In 2014, KEMFI (Kentucky Executive Mansions Foundation, Inc.) joined the Commonwealth in celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion. The Governor’s Mansion is consistently rated one of the most beautiful in America, however private funds are needed to help keep its integrity for future generations to appreciate. The goal for the Governor’s Mansion Centennial Celebration is to raise $1 million in an endowment for the proper upkeep of the “people’s house” for the next 100 years.  

Over the past few years, Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens has worked with the mansion’s ground crew to enhance new and existing gardens with plant donations, as well proven plant material from Proven Winners, one of our partners in making gardens more beautiful. Theses gardens are now nationally recognized as a Proven Winners Signature Garden. For as little as $50.00 a year you can help the Governor’s Mansion’s preservation and cultural enrichment effort to maintain these gardens, and more. Learn more about how you can help by visiting the KEMFI website (, or by taking advantage of a very special offer from Flower Magazine.
And a very special thank you to a good friend, Margot Shaw, the Editor of Flower Magazine ( Dale and I were fortunate to meet Margot several years ago during a short trip to Manalapan, Florida to meet Bucks County friends Renny Reynalds and partner Jack Staub ( We bonded instantly over common friends, gardening, flowers, and of course, dogs. It was Cate & Lily’s (our yellow labrador pups) first trip to Florida. A dual effort, search and rescue mission for Cate pushed over the retaining wall and into the inlet bay by Lily sealed the deal. Since this time, Margot has been a great supported of our work, as well of our home state of Kentucky. Flower Magazine’s recent sponsorship of, and her participation at the Kentucky Governor’s Summer Solstice Event was priceless.


flower-for-charity copy

To read more about this beautiful Proven Winners Signature Garden, visit our website,




Every once in awhile, we do an event that fills the room with good feelings, happiness and appreciation. The Summer Solstice celebration at the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday, June 21st was one of these special moments…

Not only was it for a great cause of raising money for the upkeep of the most beautiful Governor’s Mansion in the United States (while many other states are closing theirs due to budget constraints), everyone that attended had THE BEST TIME. Ann Evans, Executive Director of the Governor’s Mansion, knows how to throw a party with delicious food and refreshments while Beth Sebastian put together a centerpiece on the huge table that was the size of a Prius… it blew people away! Gorgeous! Roainn Ridley charmed her audience with ideas for all kinds of floral designs and John Morris from LV Harkness showed us how to set a table for summer get togethers ranging from informal to “you will never forget this luncheon in your life”. Proven Winners own Pat Seibel, Jon Carloftis and the Mansion’s Head Gardener, Sandy Perkins took us on a tour of the grounds that showcased the native plant material as well as the annual display in the Floral Clock and Formal Gardens that have never looked better. Stacey Hirvela of Proven Winners also gave an informative talk on her new book “Edible Spots and Pots” which taught the crowd how to have their favorite fruits and vegetables in the smallest of spaces.

But, perhaps the talk that put it all together was the exciting and informative one by Katy Moss Warner. Katy was the director of Disney World Horticulture from 1976-1990 (she must have started as a tot) so she taught us how horticulture can bring people back to a place over and over again. Also, President Emeritus of the American Horticulture Society, she is influential in the worthwhile program America in Bloom. If you create beauty in your towns and cities, both the citizens and visitors gain from this effort and it has a snowball effect of getting everyone involved. As in the words of another person who has made us stop and smell the roses, Martha Stewart, “Now that’s a good thing.”

Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, 2013 James Beard Award Winners for their Canal House Cooks Everyday were the the speakers during lunch. What they are so good at, other than creating, cooking, photographing, designing their books….is being able to make people remember their favorite food stories and inspiring them to make more!

The big happy feeling of the day was seeing the 5 limestone urns graciously donated by Longshadow Garden Ornaments. The urns are the focal point of the formal garden and were much needed. Daniel and Charlotte Ward spoke to a full audience on how to integrate ornaments into their own spaces…very informative and inspirational.

Read more and see photos on our events page HERE



THANK YOU – Many thanks to the more than 1,300 people who visited our home and gardens at historic Botherum, our Kentucky home and office, on Sunday, June 22, 2014 during the Kentucky Open Days Garden Tour of beautiful Lexington and Frankfort, Kentucky gardens.

Through this program, garden enthusiasts were able to explore two private gardens in Lexington (Botherum & Mt. Brilliant Farm), as well the Governor’s Mansion Garden in Frankfort for self-guided tours. All proceeds went to benefit the Garden Conservancy. The Garden Conservancy was established nationally to help preserve America’s Exceptional Gardens. We remain honored to participate in this program. Road trip anyone? Join Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens on Saturday, June 28 at our Bucks County, PA farmhouse for the start of the Bucks County Open Days Garden Tour. Read more and see photos on our events page HERE




Kentucky is lucky to have the most successful producer in film history to call our state his home.

Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer have restored much of her grandmother’s hometown of Bloomfield, Kentucky. With charming antique stores (Nettie Jarvis Antiques), a Kentucky Proud general store (The Old Sugar Valley Country Store), a local pizza store, tearoom (Miss Merrifield’s Tea Room), meeting hall (The Olde Bloomfield Meeting Hall) and more, you must go visit this wonderful town. We love it!

If you want to meet Jerry Bruckheimer in person and get a signed copy of his new book, WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES/Four Decades of Filmmaking, bring your whole family for a day of fun this 4th of July weekend… Hope to see you there!

– Jon

[ Visit the event page here ]


Jon and Ann were making the rounds in Louisville to make sure all the great people there know about the festivities at the Summer Solstice Garden Celebration this coming Saturday! Tickets are still available so hurry and get them today! We’ll see you there tomorrow!

Live on Wave 3

Live on WDRB


Hurry and get your tickets today!


Tickets for the Summer Solstice Garden Celebration
are $100.00 and include 2 meals and
4 hours of plants and entertaining classes!
To purchase tickets and for more information visit
or by phone call 502-564-3000 and ask for Mackenzie Brown.All proceeds will further the Governor’s Mansion efforts for preservation for future generations.


And here’s Jon with Ann Evans, executive director of the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, once again to tell all about the festivities at the Summer Solstice Garden Celebration this coming Saturday!

Watch it here:


[ link to watch ] 

To purchase tickets and for more information visit
or by phone call 502-564-3000 and ask for Mackenzie Brown.

All proceeds will further the Governor’s Mansion efforts for preservation for future generations.


Jon paid a visit to LEX18 on Tuesday, along with the lovely Ann Evans, executive director of the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, to help promote the upcoming Summer Solstice Garden Celebration.

Watch it here:


To purchase tickets and for more information visit
or by phone call 502-564-3000 and ask for Mackenzie Brown.

All proceeds will further the Governor’s Mansion efforts for preservation for future generations.



Join Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens and some of our favorite partners: Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton (Canal House Cooking), Stacey Hirvela and Pat Seibel (Proven Winners), John Morris (L.V. Harkness), Roianne Ridley (MacKenzies Florist), Daniel and Charlotte Ward (Longshadow Classic Garden Ornaments), Katy Moss Warner (America in Bloom) and of course Beth Sebastian, Sandy Perkins and grounds crew (Governor’s Mansion) in making life more beautiful at the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion Summer Solstice Garden Celebration, a celebration of our mansion’s 100 year anniversary as well the designation of it’s gardens as a Proven Winners Signature Garden, one of few in the United States.

Tickets are $100.00 and include 2 meals and
4 hours of plants and entertaining classes.
To purchase tickets and for more information visit
or by phone call 502-564-3000 and ask for Mackenzie Brown.
All proceeds will further the Governor’s Mansion efforts for preservation for future generations.

We are fully stocked, including the hard-to-find Breast Cancer Awareness, special edition birdhouse, and our newest addition to the collection, the Jon Carloftis Herb Crocks by Louisville Stoneware here at Rockcastle River Trading Co.

The Jon Carloftis Collection of Birdhouses and Herb Crocks

Jon Carloftis is pleased to collaborate with Louisville Stoneware (founded in 1815) to debut a line of functional artwork for the garden. Louisville Stoneware uses centuries-old ceramic techniques to create these collections.

Each piece in Jon’s collection is made from natural stoneware clay up to 250 million years old and harvested from deposits in Kentucky and Indiana. From these raw beginnings to an exquisite finish, no fewer than twenty pairs of artisan hands touch each piece.

Jon’s collection was featured in Architectural Digest, Better Homes & Gardens, Design NJ, Southern Living, and The Herb Companion.


Come on over and check them out!

Stoneware Carloftis Herb Crock_photo by Abby Ott-4web




2014 Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Preservation Awards

The house known as “Botherum” has had a storied history, one that continues in the hands of its current owners, garden designer Jon Carloftis and his partner, Dale Fisher. “I’ve wanted that house since 1984, when I bartended a party there. I’ve loved that house ever since,” Carloftis told the Herald-Leader, in 2012.

Botherum was constructed in 1851 as the residence for Madison C. Johnson. The single-story home was designed by John McMurtry, a Lexington architect and builder, and is unique in that the design incorporates Greek, Roman, and Gothic architectural elements.

The 36-acre estate was sold in 1886 to J.C. Woodward, who subdivided much of it into the Woodward Heights neighborhood. The house was listed in the National Register in 1973, while the surrounding historic district was listed in 1980. The property was altered in the latter part of the 20th century before sitting vacant for 20 years.

Renowned architectural historian Clay Lancaster once wrote that “Botherum is a jewel of architecture, which contains the finest interior of its type in existence.”

The home is a blend of “delightful and eclectic interiors,” wrote the author of the nomination. “Each chamber is a study of spatial transitions, connectivity to the exterior, and natural lighting. This is why the property offered such potential for a garden designer with the skill to uphold the outdoor’s promise to the interior spaces.”

According to a recent article in Garden & Gun, “Carloftis took care to restore the home’s original layout. Crews spent more than 15 months repairing leaks and fixing the plaster walls. ‘There were 400 cracks in the drawing room alone,’” he told the magazine.

The rehabilitation project has been heralded for its authenticity and drawn widespread interest. When the home was featured during one of the Blue Grass Trust’s monthly Dee-Tours, more than 800 people showed up!

In recognition of the preservation of one of Lexington’s most historically and architecturally unique residences, this Preservation Project Award is presented to Jon Carloftis and Dale Fisher for Botherum.





Continue to get all the latest news
in the Jon Carloftis Fine Garden world…
Sign up today!