A Beautiful Journey

We had an amazingly beautiful weekend here in the Kentucky Bluegrass.  It's days like this that remind me of why we choose to make this our home.
My good friend Paula and I knew that Saturday was going to be perfect for an afternoon drive down to Livingston, Kentucky. Our destination, the
 Rockcastle River Trading Company. 
We could not have picked a more perfect day for a visit with the gracious proprietress Lucille Carloftis and her incredible family.
Rockcastle River Trading Company is the center of the Carloftis family homestead and a charming place where Lucille and other members of her fine family welcome visitors along US 25 to explore their well-edited selection of gift items, home & garden decor.
The beautiful setting encourages you to wander, relax and stay for a while. When we arrived, we were greeted on the patio by Lucille's son, garden designer, Jon Carloftis, and by her darling granddaughter, Carly.
Carly & Paula
Paula, who is also a dear friend of the Carloftis family, and I stayed long into the afternoon enjoying pimento sandwiches, homemade cookies, walks throughout the homestead and wonderful family stories with good people who are the epitome of southern hospitality.
Lucille's gorgeous cherry tree was in full bloom and served as a lace canopy over the walk from the residence back to the store.
Photo Helen Norman
Lucille will be the first to tell you that she is not a gardener, however, her son Jon Carloftis is an honest-to-goodness gardening celebrity. To quote from her book, A Beautiful Journey, "Momma," he said, "these ladies here in Lexington are real gardeners. Please don't call everything 'bushes.'"
Most days, he is outside like any gardener, getting his hands dirty, whether it's on his own property or on a client’s New York rooftop.
While Carloftis splits his time between Livingston and his home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he admits he’s made a name for himself designing gardens for “some of the wealthiest people in New York,” but he doesn’t consider that the hallmark of his career.
There is one special place that’s his touchstone. “It’s called the Rockcastle River,” he says. “I can go there, and really get inspired real quick.”
Jon Carloftis is every bit the down-to-earth Kentucky boy he attests to being. He is amazingly humble and told me that he would love to come by and see my garden and stonework next time he is in Lexington!
Despite his hectic schedule, he makes time to speak regularly at Kentucky garden club events, and he has also donated his talents to gardens at the University of Kentucky Arboretum and to Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate.
 Giving back to Kentucky is a way to pay tribute to his family and the source of his lifelong love of nature. For someone to be so committed to giving back to his home state is really inspiring. He has also devoted his many talents towards three incredible books.
Jon's latest book, Beautiful Gardens of Kentucky, which I purchased while there, is one I look forward to sharing with you all.
Paula and I had a delightful afternoon with the Carloftis family. It was such a pleasure to spend time with each and every one of them. Before we said goodbye, Lucille read to me an excerpt from her book, A Beautiful Journey. As I listened, I was reminded of the power of storytelling and that this incredibly gracious woman has a deeply moving story to tell. I look forward to reading and traveling along.
Thank you, Lucille and your kind family for a beautiful afternoon and A Beautiful Journey.

Rockcastle River Trading Company.
Located off I-75 at exit 49 on US 25, or a leisurely drive down US 25 south past Livingston on the left just before the Laurel County bridge.