After reading Elizabeth Lawrence's The Little Bulbs: A Tale of Two Gardens last year, and finding out that her friend, Professor Carl Krippendorf, had lived near Cincinnati, I wanted to visit his home and property. The correspondence between the two of them during the middle of the 20th century was fascinating to me.
They talked about bulbs that I grew in my own garden and by living just a few hours north of Krippendorf's Lob's Wood, reading of his horticultural experiences was extremely relevant. Though Cincinnati is a zone warmer than I am here in Northwest Ohio, we grow a great many of the same things.
Last year, Mom, Kara and I planned to visit Krippendorf Lodge and Lob's Wood during our trip to the Cincinnati Flower Show. But the weather held other plans for us and 'almost snowing' just didn't seem like the best time to visit this special place, so we decided to save it for another time.
Rowe Woods) was on the agenda for the Garden Writers Association Region III meeting at the end of April. I couldn't think of a better activity to get me out of bed early on a Friday morning than to traipse around Carl Krippendorf's beloved woods with my fellow garden writers.
History of Lob's Wood
Carl Krippendorf was the son of German immigrants, born in Ohio in 1875. As a young child, he developed typhoid and was advised by doctors to spend time out of the city, out of the dirty air, so he went to live outside of Cincinnati with friends. He fell in love with the woods and in 1898, purchased 97acres of it. He built a home for his bride, Mary, and they lived in what would later become known as Krippendorf Lodge for 64 years.
During this time, Professor Krippendorf corresponded with garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, who lived in North Carolina. They compared notes on their gardens and specifics about plants and bulbs they both grew. Lawrence wrote of their gardening relationship in Lob's Wood, published in 1971.
The property is now part of the Cincinnati Nature Center, having been sold to them in 1965, by Rosan Adams (Carl and Mary Krippendorf's daughter), shortly after the Krippendorfs' deaths. Their legacy is preserved at what is now called Rowe Woods.
We met in the welcome center, where we were given a short history of the nature center and a copy of Elizabeth's Lawrence's book, Lob's Wood. Then for the next hour, we walked down the trail to Krippendorf Lodge and on beyond, through the woods and Professor Krippendorf's gardens.
What a beautiful setting, with its natural ravines and native growth! Even the plantings in the woods looked like they'd always been there.
As we had other gardens to visit, our time in Rowe Woods was much too short, but I got enough of a taste of things that I'm certain I'll return, with Romie in tow. He would love this place, I just know it.