Saturday, May 8, 2010

Carl Krippendorf's Lob's Wood - A Special Visit

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.

 Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata)

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.

As is often the case, all things come to those who wait, and Lob's Wood (now called 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.

Our Visit

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.

 Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), growing in abundance on the floor of Rowe Woods, has gone to seed.
We got to see a little of the first floor of the lodge and the views through the front porch French doors were almost as good as being outside.


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.


Sandy said...

Looks like a great place to visit! Thanks for taking us along with you.

thom browne said...


Lisa at Greenbow said...

This looks like a marvelous place. You always seem to find such wonderful places to visit. I am so glad you take us with you.

Happy Mother's Day.

Carol Michel said...

I surely did enjoy that brief visit and can't wait to go back to see it again, this time for a longer walk through it.

garden girl said...

What a wonderful place Kylee! Thank you for sharing your visit. I LOVE Elizabeth Lawrence. It's so cool reading her letters. These days, garden blogs often remind me of some of the correspondence between gardeners of the past.

Kylee Baumle said...

Sandy ~ My pleasure! I wish I really could take you all with us!

thom ~ It sure was!

Lisa ~ Thank you, Lisa! It was just beautiful and so peaceful. We are definitely going back there!

Carol ~ Exactly. That short visit was just enough to whet our appetites, wasn't it? I absolutely LOVE places like that and when I walk through them, I try to imagine what it was like when the original owners lived there. So much history...

Linda ~ You would have loved it! I know should drive to my house, then we can drive down there and visit it together. Carol can drive over from Indy! It could be a party!

Yes, blogs seem like that to me, too!

Dee Nash said...

Kylee, thanks so much for this virtual visit. As you know, I'm a big Elizabeth Lawrence fan too. It's nice to see Lob's wood through your eyes.~~Dee

Anonymous said...

Kylee, this is a excellent story about the Krippendorf family. Sadly Rowe Woods is no longer the beautiful place you visited. A huge part of the woodlands are now gone to the Emerald Ash Borer. It was sad to watch these huge majestic trees die. Rowe Woods is now more about commercialization and money than it was in 2010.

Kylee Baumle said...

Anonymous ~ I live in the land of the emerald ash borer, too, and it's sad how many trees have been taken down by this insect. I was just at the Cincinnati Nature Center on October 7th, to hear a speaker there, but I didn't get a chance to look around, as we had to get back home. (It's a 3-hour drive down there.)

We're going to try and go back down in the spring next year for a relaxing, meandering visit.

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