Early on in my stay in Lexington, I found my way to the beautiful traditional English parterre garden at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate. While there’s a charge to tour the mansion–and it’s certainly well worth it–the lovely walled garden on the grounds of Ashland is free. The garden gates are unlocked at 10:00 a.m. and remain open until 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday during the season.
If there’s a downside, it would be that the garden is frequently overrun by photographers shooting wedding or graduation photos. But that’s not really a problem if you enjoy people watching. 🙂
You enter the formal garden through beautiful iron gates. It’s divided into six sections, called parterres, a design which dates to the 15th century gardens of the French Renaissance. There are paths around the perimeter of the garden and around and through the parterres.
While this is not the original Ashland garden, there have always been formal gardens on the estate. Statesman Henry Clay brought back landscaping ideas from trips to England. The present garden, begun in 1950, reflects a garden style that was popular in the 19th century. It is maintained by the Garden Club of Lexington.