Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens

About us

Drop by Rockcastle River Trading Company to experience
a vanishing way of Southern Life!

About Rockcastle River Trading Company:

Nestled along the banks of the Rockcastle River and surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest is one of Kentucky's best kept secrets, The Rockcastle River Trading Company. It is owned by one of its own native sons Jon Carloftis who many know as the ingenious rooftop garden designer of New York City and his gracious mother, Lucille. While some might call this unique enterprise a shoppe, it is in truth much more.


The Rockcastle River Trading Company is located in the countryside on a rolling plot of 50 acres that is in actuality the lands of the Carloftis family homestead. It may be best to begin with a few quotes from Southern Living magazine. “The Rockcastle River Trading Company is definitely worth the stop for any traveler visiting the state of Kentucky.” Look for this great stop off the interstate (I-75)... Rockcastle River Trading Company invites you to take a break to stop and wonder its gorgeous grounds... Its beautifully landscaped gardens are a touch of Eden."


The barn-red store sits humbly facing the Old Dixie Highway with its back to the Rockcastle River. A small allee of trees invite you to ramble up to its porch. Remarkable statuary and handmade pottery line the walkway. Whether it is early spring or late autumn, the trees proudly display their seasonal vestments. To the left of the store, an early American vegetable and herb garden are centered on a restored blacksmith shop. To the right a potting shed, once the centerpiece of the Southeastern Flower Show in Atlanta, Georgia, sits quietly as if it was built on-site a century ago. Fountains and urns, sundials and ironware are creatively incorporated among the gardens for shoppers to browse and purchase. There are even the family's miniature horses grazing peacefully along the river-side pasture. (Unfortunately, they are not for sale.)


Upon entering the Rockcastle River Trading Company one is immediately greeted by the aroma of cinnamon, magnolia or honeysuckle, (depending on which fragrant candle Lucille Carloftis has decided to enjoy for the day). Displays and vignettes feature luxury items for the home. Quality lines of products only are displayed here. You will find Peacock Alley (sheets and bedding), Match (fine Italian pewter tableware, frames, and bathroom accessories), and Vietri (Italian tableware and cookware). You'll also find the best of Palecek and Jamie Young (table and floor lamps), Pre de Provence (French- milled soaps and lotions), Elizabeth W (perfumes from San Francisco), Trapp candles, glass bell jars, and one many of a kind antiques and artisan wares. Jon Carloftis hand picks every single item for the store.


He also showcases his favorite garden tools, statuary, pottery, casual and outdoor furniture and garden supplies, certain to satisfy the standards of the most discriminating gardener.


Along with browsing through this most extraordinary store, visitors are encouraged to roam the grounds and explore the beautiful gardens that Jon has designed to showcase the property. Set amongst the native forests and indigenous plantings Jon has brought in additional and unusual specimens. The grounds reflect his dedication to respecting old heirloom varieties while embracing the newer hybrids and cultivars. The mingling of the two is a vision that will inspire any gardener; weekend variety or trained professional.


Visitors to the trading company are free to meander across the wooden footbridge through the carriage house from the store. On the other side of the bridge lies the Carloftis family home. The house, based on actual historic plans for a Massachusetts salt box design is still lived in today by members of the Carloftis family.


Just beyond the family home, down a winding path, lies a remarkably preserved one-room schoolhouse. It serves as a guest house for the many family and friends who visit the home each year. Guests can also view one of the family's greatest treasures; a rustic post-office built by Jon's great, great uncle in 1916 and moved to the property in the 1970's.


The Rockcastle River Trading Company was originally located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky in the early 1990's but was moved back to its country roots; the place of it's inception, in the year 2000. It dwells there still and will for many years to come.


At the very heart of the store is Lucille Carloftis. She runs the store each day, come rain or shine, where she is always ready to greet her guests with a smile and a story or two (or three) of the old days. Her impeccable Southern manners and genteel charm are evident in every detail of the enterprise. And if Jon is the verdant illustrator of The Rockcastle River Trading Company, then Lucille remains its inspired author.