The Jerry & Karen Kral Garden

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Each summer our Bonsai Society of Upstate New York Inc gathers and has tours to interesting gardens or nurseries in the greater Rochester, New York area.

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This evening we had the privilege to visit the garden of Jerry & Karen Kral who have developed a common size city yard into a “horticultural Zoo.”

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Jerry Kral was a high school science teacher for 30 years and seriously became interested in collecting plants in 1992. His garden has expanded twice by purchasing the home next door and also the house behind his home. He subdivided the properties, developed the garden areas and resold the original homes, with smaller yards. Their garden now has one acre full of beautiful plants and is the most visited private garden in the Rochester, New York area. A few years ago he hosted over 600 visitors to see his unique garden.

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He loves and enjoys his plants and garden and freely shares his passion with others. Jerry is quite active and has been an officer for numerous organizations including the American Conifer Society, North American Rock Garden Society and the Greater Rochester Perennial Society, among others. Their garden has been featured in many national magazines as well as on television because of the beauty.

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Variegated Japanese Snowbell, Styrax japonica cv.

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Jerry designed and constructed the entire garden himself. He had the largest residential delivery of stones, over 500 pallets full of Pennsylvania fieldstone for walls and Pennsylvania blue stone used for pathways. The “Great Wall of Kral” surrounds the garden on three sides consists of over 175 pallets two ton stones and 30 yards of gravel. It took Jerry over 1,500 hours over a year and a half period to complete the wall which is three to eight feet in height and three to four feet wide. All solid rock and hand built.

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He is a true collector of interesting, rare and little known plant material. Now he has well over 1,000 different species and cultivars. There are over 360 different conifers and about 700 different deciduous trees, shrubs, broadleaf evergreens and perennials.

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Four different Ginkgo cultivars

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The Jerry & Karen Garden consists of at least 50 garden rooms interconnected by over a half mile of stone pathways flanked by garden sculpture, fountains, fish ponds and waterfalls. Unique sculpture and other touches of whimsy greet visitors as they walk the paths. Every place you look unusual plants are seen, and if you look more closely additional garden art and plant material can be appreciated.

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Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Fairy Hair’

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Jerry & Karen Kral are proud of the garden they developed during the last 27 years and they should be. They love their plant material and unique garden they designed, planted, re-planted, watered, pruned and weeded. They freely share their passion for unusual plants and how they can be incorporated into garden settings.

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