Laurel County Homecoming Honoree - Jon Carloftis - Out of Towner Award

Whether rustic or elegant, simple or extravagant, Jon Carloftis has done it all.

Raised in southeastern Kentucky near the border of Rockcastle and Laurel counties, Carloftis learned early on about a strong work ethic. He then developed his own interests and talents to become one of the most sought after garden designers today.

His works have been featured in numerous magazines including Southern Living, Garden Design, Edible Louisville, Sophisticated Living, Porches and Gardens, Country Living, Garden Structures and Container Gardens. His designs adorn rooftop gardens in New York and landscaping for residences and businesses across the United States. One of those of which he is proudest, however, is the one at his family's business, Rockcastle Trading Company, just over the Laurel-Rockcastle County line.

As a 10th generation Kentuckian, Carloftis graduated from University of Kentucky and moved to New York City in 1988. What was supposed to be a summer spent in the city before starting his business at home in Lexington ended up being a 25-year career of designing and installing rooftop gardens all over Manhattan.

Within a few years of living in Chelsea, he bought an 1850's farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania — close to all of his plant growers and carpenter, making it convenient — other than the daily trek in and out of the city. Although he has built gardens for famous people such as Julianne Moore, Edward Norton, Mike Myers, Google and many well known art collectors, his approach is very simple: First, figure out the problems that need fixed (views, noise, privacy, etc.) and then work with the interior of the space to pull the same feeling outdoors for a seamless connection. From traditional to modern, all of the gardens are built for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors through good design and knowledge of plants.

Now, the next chapter is unfolding back home in Lexington where he bought a historic 1851 historic home called Botherum that had fallen in disrepair and was boarded up. Within a year Carloftis and partner Dale Fisher received the highest honor in the state for historic restoration of the home and garden. Some amazing projects are ongoing such as the Maker's Mark Distillery and the Castle & Key Distillery renovations, Governor's Mansion gardens, Eastern Kentucky University and University of the Cumberlands main gardens, several large horse farms and many roof gardens in both Louisville and Lexington.

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