Research & Science

Horticulture & Sustainable Landscapes

Hor·ti·cul·ture (ˈhôrdəˌkəlCHər/)

Noun: the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants.

Thoughtful Conservation

What is an Arboretum?

Bernheim’s prestigious Arboretum is a repository for unique, rare, and endangered species of plants that are native to our region and introduced from many parts of the world. Quercus georgiana (Georgia oak), Betula uber (roundleaf birch), and Magnolia obovata (Japanese bigleaf magnolia) are just a handful of the many wonderful species displayed within the Arboretum.

We proudly partner with other research institutions and state agencies to exchange and safeguard germplasm to preserve ex-situ (from other locations) collections as well as native Kentucky plant populations.

Visit our beautiful 600-acre arboretum and experience the wonder of over 3,500 accessioned plants. Our plant records database will help locate your favorites. Be sure to check out our most notable collections:
Quercus (oak), Acer (maple), Fagus (beech), GingkoMagnoliaIlex (hollies), Aesculus (buckeye), and conifers.

Learn more in Making a World Class Arboretum

Collections Map

Restorative & Intentional

Sustainable Practices

Sustainable horticulture comes in many forms at Bernheim. Our team is intentional about designing and creating spaces where restorative ecosystems can thrive and regeneration occurs naturally. We actively live this out by:

  • Performing biodiversity studies in support of plant and insect diversity
  • Opting out of insecticides and fungicides
  • Planting with purpose: each area of the Arboretum is unique and we match plants to each site
  • Focusing on reducing our carbon footprint in all aspects of our work
  • Using technology for data collection and review
  • Focusing on propagating and growing species of regional ecotype to offer back to the region
  • Implementing a closed-loop system for organic debris (compost, mulch, and even wood for buildings)


Growing Sustainably

The Edible Garden

Explore our one-of-a-kind Edible Garden – a 2.4-acre site just across from Bernheim’s Visitor Center that connects people to one of the oldest, most popular pastimes – gardening! This vibrant educational space yields thousands of pounds of food each year. Learn how this essential garden makes the environment healthier by meeting the most rigorous green design standards in the world.  

Garden Guidelines for your Visit

Respecting nature enhances your adventure and ensures the preservation of all plant collections within Bernheim Forest and Arboretum. Engage with this etiquette – thank you! 

Creating Connections

Beyond Our Borders

Bernheim’s horticulture team creates lasting partnerships centered around diverse plant palettes and the ecosystem services these plants provide. Green roof management, biodiversity studies, tree inventory and assessment, community engagement, training and consulting are ways we engage with surrounding communities.

Community Partners:

  • American Life Building
  • Novak Center for Children’s Health
  • YouthBuild Louisville UCC
  • Change Today Change Tomorrow
  • Parks Alliance Louisville
  • Nelson County Schools Ag Collab
  • Gallant Fox Brewing Co.

For more information on becoming a community partner, please contact Renee Frith at

Rooftop Garden at Novak

Nationally Recognized

ArbNet, Level IV Accredited Arboretum

Botanical Gardens Conservation International Accredited Garden