21st Century Parks


Louisville, KY


Landscape Architecture, Site Development

Tucked inside The Parklands of Floyds Fork’s nearly 4,000 acres, Woodland Garden is a hidden gem – a little bit of Alice in Wonderland in Louisville, Kentucky. With winding trails, stone walkways and three rondels, the 14-acre garden invites visitors to take the road less traveled and lose themselves in discovering the living landscape. Working with Bravura Architecture, Gresham Smith helped design the garden’s planting areas and developed a plan for maintaining the woodland’s more than 200 kinds of trees, shrubs and other native plant species. The resulting world-class garden is one of the Parklands’ busiest amenities, a peaceful place where visitors can slow down and explore the wonder of the woods.

acre garden
plant species
A garden with pavers and plants

A Commitment to Authenticity

Throughout the project, we took special steps to preserve the park’s existing vegetation and thoughtfully incorporate man-made elements. For example, our team filled in natural areas with more than 27,000 plants and arranged stones to disappear down a sinkhole, complementing the garden’s more than 125-year-old towering oak tree and the site’s existing topography. The varied spaces strike a balance, creating intimate spaces within the immense area.

A map of the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden

Taking the Scenic Route

Our team helped design the garden to feel like a series of rooms, each with their own unique experience. Nearly a mile of stone pathways wind through Woodland Garden, offering countless views and experiences. Whether visitors stop at the hydrangea falls, the dry fern woods, the sinkhole meadow or the boulder garden, our project team’s hope is that visitors will slow down to stop and smell the roses.

circular stones in a garden

Rooms with a View

To further create a sense of rooms, the garden has three rondels—small, circular areas—tucked inside the park. The first space, named the Kentucky Coffee Tree Rondel, is paved with circular stones that mimic the pattern at the bottom of a stream bed and is enclosed by coffee trees, a dry-stone retaining wall and benches for sitting in the shade. The next, Scarlet Oak Rondel, is paved with Kentucky limestone and is enclosed by oak trees that turn a brilliant red in the fall, while the last, Redbud Rondel, is comprised of large stones in a loose circle and native redbud and dogwood trees.