April Showers Brought The Flowers

By Head Gardener, Karen Mann

With the Kentucky Derby a distant memory, we look forward to the anticipation of the Belmont Stakes and the possibility of a Triple Crown winner in the Kentucky bred thoroughbred, Justify.  If Justify is successful and is adorned with the Triple Crown, he will be draped with a blanket of white carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus). Although not white, the mass planting of pink flowers that blanket the hillside at the Donor Fountain in Beckley Creek Park is actually a related species to the carnation. Found in the carnation family, Dianthus, or Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), grows low to the ground, blooms profusely and smells like cloves and other spices. While the Dianthus caryophyllus, the florist’s carnation, is grown in a greenhouse, it grows tall and upright and is commonly used as a cut flower in floral arrangements. In this case, the carnation will be used as the final jewel for a much-deserved champion - Justify.  


Along with the Dianthus, other spring perennials have been blooming intensely throughout the park and are worth noting.  Listed below are the most visible, as well as the many locations within The Parklands that they can be found. Happy viewing!


Locations: Beckley Creek Park, Creekside Gardens 

Beckley Creek Park, Donor Fountain meadow 

Pope Lick Park, The Trailhead 

Broad Run Park, Cliffside Garden Beds 

Several species of Baptisia, or False Indigo can be found growing in a number of different locations throughout The Parklands.  Native to the Eastern United States, baptisia is a member of the legume family.  It has an attractive blue-green foliage and an incredibly unique flower, which resembles the lupine.  The flower also attracts butterflies and makes for an eye-catching cut flower. 

Creeping Buttercup 

Locations: Turkey Run Park, Seaton Valley meadow 

Broad Run Park, Lowland Plain 

Found throughout the meadows in The Parklands, Creeping Buttercup displays an intense burst of yellow brilliance in open meadows, as well as along stream banks and moist woods. The Creeping Buttercup prefers full or partial sun and can spread aggressively. The flowers are often fragrant and can grow to be 1-3’ in height. 

Lance-Leaved Coreopsis 

Location: Beckley Creek Park, Creekside Gardens 

Lance-leaved Coreopsis is a native wildflower. It's a useful pollinator, providing a food source for wildlife, as they tend to drink the nectar and eat the seeds. The blossoms of the coreopsis are also useful as a natural dye. 


Location: Broad Run Park Cliffside Gardens


Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower,  or Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit', no doubt stands out at the Cliffside Playground and Spray ground.  With its assorted yellow, pink and red blooms, it's a real eye-catcher. The flowers are often used as cut flowers; however, please refrain from cutting ours. Please leave them for the birds, butterflies and other pollinators that also enjoy this beauty!

Butterfly/Common Milkweed 

Locations: Pope Lick Park Trailhead 

Broad Run Park Cliffside Gardens 


Common Milkweed is a species of milkweed that is native to Eastern North America. It is also known as orange milkweed because of the butterflies that are attracted to the plant because of its color and production of nectar. Milkweed is a host plant for the Monarch butterfly.  The Common Milkweed plant can also be found blooming in most all the meadows throughout the parks.

Purple Prairie Clover 

Location: Beckley Creek Park, Creekside Garden 

Purple Prairie Clover is a member of the legume family and is beneficial not only as a pollinator, but it adds nitrogen to the soil. It has a stunning purple flower with golden flecks and is a pollinator favorite and it is a host plant for the Dogface Butterfly larvae.  It also provides nectar to different species of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Siberian Iris 

Location: Broad Run Park, Cliffside Garden Beds 

The Siberian Iris is a beardless Iris and it has sword like leaves with deep violet, blue flowers. They tend to thrive in any type soils but are suitable for wet soils. It finds itself at home in the garden beds at Cliffside adjacent to the Splashpark. 


Locations: Beckley Creek Park, Creekside Gardens 

Beckley Creek Park, Donor Fountain Meadow

Spiderwort is a very hardy native plant, which is great for use in borders, edging woodland gardens and containers. The three-petaled flower only remains open for a day, blooming in morning hours and closing at night. The flowers continuously bloom for up to six weeks.   


Location: Broad Run Park, Cliffside Garden Beds 

Thermopsis is native to North America. It blooms in late spring to summer, with yellow flowers resembling those of peas.  It is referred to as False Lupine and has been used by Native Americans to produce yellow dye and as a treatment for stomach disorders. 

Woodland Phlox 

Location: Broad Run Park, Limestone Gorge 

The bright lavender flowers of the Woodland Phlox really light up the Louisville Loop at the Limestone Gorge. Unfortunately, most of the flowers have faded, but the nectar from the phlox is a favorite of hummingbirds.  Long-tounged insects, including butterflies and bumblebees, only pollinate the flowers. Many other insects visit the phlox to feed on the pollen, which is produced near the end of the tube. The phlox is not only a remarkable sight, but it is delightful to smell. It will often be noticed before it is seen!  



Location: Broad Run Park Cliffside Gardens 

Yarrow is a lovely addition to the gardens. With its red and yellow blooms, yarrow is actually an herb! The showy flower heads consist of many tiny, tightly packed flowers and have fern-like leaves are very aromatic. Legend has it that yarrow is named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to heal the bleeding in his soldiers’ wounds. 


Locations: Beckley Creek Park, Creekside Gardens 

Broad Run Park, Limestone Gorge


 Zizia is commonly known as Golden Alexanders. It's a member of the carrot family, is a late spring bloomer and attracts early pollinators and other beneficial insects. Its leaves are a food source for the swallowtail butterfly larvae.  Although not actively blooming, it can be found on the hillside adjacent to the Limestone Gorge parking lot. 


About the Author

Picture of Karen Mann

Karen Mann

Karen has worked at the Parklands of Floyds Fork in many capacities. Originally hired as an Attendant in 2013, she has also worked in the PNC Achievement Center at the front desk and The Gheens Foundation Lodge as an Event Concierge. As of September 1, 2014 she has taken on the position as Head Zone Gardener. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor degree in Technical Horticulture and a minor in Floriculture. For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved in providing a hands-on atmosphere for her husband and three children. During this time she maintained a successful, profitable small business as a lawn maintenance contractor as well as a private residential gardener. Along with a passion to make a difference, Karen shares the same enthusiasm as her colleagues, as they continue to contribute to the growth and progress of The Parklands of Floyds Fork. When not at the Parklands, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, pets and just being in the outdoors.

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