In the Pink
Jon Carloftis honors mom Lucille with garden at Lexington hospital
BY Aayat Ali
At 87 years old, Lucille B. Carloftis is the famous southeastern
Kentucky entrepreneur and matriarch of the Rockastle River Trading Company.
She’s an author, mother of six, and has had Lexington Mayor Jim Gray celebrate her birthday (Valentine’s Day) as Lucille Carloftis Day. She’s also a breast cancer survivor.
Her son is famed Lexington garden designer Jon Carloftis, and he recently
honored her by designing a recently-dedicated garden at Baptist Health in her name — going with a wild and somewhat untamed approach to represent his mother’s free-spirited Clay County roots.
Lucille’s lessons have always made a lastingimpression on her children. To this day, Carloftis says, he owns female dogs, because that’s how he was raised: “Mama had six foot tall boxwood shrubs and she didn’t want boy dogs marking them.”
During his childhood in Livingston, Carloftis would make the hour-long trip to Lexington with his family several times a week. “Mama used to bring her cleaning to Chrisman’s, and we would shop at Stewart’s and Embry’s.”
Jon Carloftis is famous for local projects from Dudley’s rooftop to the Apiary, from Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate to the UK Arboretum. His designs regularly show up in Southern Living and Garden and Gun, and he has a client roster that’s included everyone from Julianne Moore to Google. Alongside all of his accomplishments, he’s known far and wide as someone who loves Kentucky, and who loves his Mom.
“Guess where we would be without Momma and Daddy? Nowhere. Amazing idols [who] taught us how it is,” Carloftis tells his friends.
In September, the Carloftis family joined Jon and Lucille in the opening of the garden, which also marked the opening of the hospital’s new cancer center.
Her daughter Carcille Burchette told a story of her mother driving herself from Rockcastle County to Lexington several times a week for radiation treatment without the help of anyone.
Detailed with red twig dogwood plants, evergreens and blue-potted plants, the bright colors will allow patients to appreciate the garden even in the upcoming winter months. Designed for respite and relief, the garden can be appreciated from inside, or patients and family members may step outside to rest on surrounding benches and enjoy the scenery as well as the three stone fountains.
The garden’s plaque shines a positive light for others affected by breast cancer, describing Lucille as a “willful spirit” with a “forever smile.”
It is possible that willful spirit might have been passed on to her progeny, as Jon Carloftis told us a few years back about his garden philosophy when it comes to his beloved Labradors, “Let them pee on the boxwood. It’s just plants!”
Jon Carloftis was featured on the cover of the June 2013 printed issue of Ace.
This article also appears on page 6 of the October 2016 printed issue of Ace.
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