As a native of north central Kentucky Kris Stone has years of experience with the common everyday challenges of maintaining a healthy landscape in the difficult climate of the Ohio Valley. Currently Kris resides in Northern Kentucky just outside of Burlington and is the Director of Boone County Arboretum.

Kris holds a Bachelor's of Science in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Kentucky, maintains certification as an ISA Certified Arborist, and is an active board member for the following organizations: KY Arborist Association, Northern KY Urban and Community Forestry Council, KY Exotic Pest Plant Council, Friends of Boone County Arboretum, and technical advisor to the Boone County Urban Forest Commission. Kris is passionate about his life long love of plants and enjoys spreading his knowledge and experience to the public he serves.


Recent Blog Posts

Mar 09
Spring Slowy Awakens   (1 comment)

Feb 10
Early Bloomers Burned   (2 comments)

Nov 17
Fall is for Fruit!!  

Sep 16
Beautiful bayberries!  

Jul 15
Keep watering!  

May 12
Plant Profile: Japanese Snowbell  

Mar 25
Yellow Magnolias  

Feb 06
February Flowers  




Yellow Magnolias
by Kristopher Stone - posted 03/25/12

In the spring, few flowering trees can be as stunning in our area as the early spring blooming magnolias. For me personally, the yellow flowering selections are the most exciting and most under utilized in Kentucky landscapes.  In recent years a stunning new selection known as 'Butterflies' has made a big splash in the nursery trade industry and can be located for sale relatively frequently.


'Butterflies' is a hybrid of M. acuminata x M. denudata ‘Sawada’s Cream’, and is a deciduous, upright magnolia, featuring 3-4" deep yellow flowers. This selection blooms well as a young plant and matures at 25-30’. Hardy to zone 5 (-20oF).  ( ( 


If 'Butterflies' is too bright for your color needs perhaps the one of the most well known older selections of yellow flowering magnolias known as 'Elizabeth' is a better match. 


Magnolia x 'Elizabeth' is a deciduous magnolia tree with a pyramidal form that matures to 20-35’ tall and features fragrant yellow flowers in early spring. 'Elizabeth' is a cross between cucumber tree (M. acuminata) and Yulan magnolia (M. denudata). Primrose yellow flowers (each to 3” across) have tinges of yellow green near the bases. Flowers tend to occur at the ends of branches, and open before foliage emerges.  Hardy to zone 5 (-20F). 






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February Flowers
by Kristopher Stone - posted 02/06/12

Nothing says spring is coming better than a bright yellow patch of crocus blooming in late winter! This shot was taken the first week of February, and many of them are still blooming.    


Jelena Witch-hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) 'Jelena' is quite stunning. This photo was taken the first week of February at Boone County arboretum in Northern Kentucky. The mild weather this winter has really caused our spring blooming witch-hazels to explode into bloom throughout the region. Jelena however, is a favorite with its extra long petals that are a glowing coppery orange in color. 

This is H. x intermedia 'Diane' for those who like more of a reddish flower. 

H. x intermedia. Even un named hybrid witch-hazel can be quite stunning. As you see in the background however some of these hold so many leaves that the flowers are hidden, this is why named selections are very important when it comes to witch-hazels.    

 Here we have H x intermedia 'Arnold Promise', as it was just starting to open flowers.

Dawn Viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense)  'Dawn'.  This is always the first of the viburnums to bloom in Kentucky.  The flowers almost always get burned by freezing weather, but its still a welcome sight to remind us that winter is almost over.  This plant started blooming in early February and is still trying to bloom!

And last but not least, yesterday at my own garden, my favorite hellebore opened up its blooms finally.  Some of you may remember this plant last year when I blogged about it on February 23, 2011.  Back then, it was just starting to expand out the flowers.  I would say that we are 1-2 weeks ahead of last year on this plant, though other plants in my garden and at the nearby arboretum are up to 3 weeks ahead of last year! 



The first viburnum blooms this year have started opening on our Dawn Bodnant Virburnum. Not to worry, this plant always blooms very early in response to mild weather. As you can see in the picture, the bright pink buds open pale pink before fading to white. The flowers are also fragrant. This 8-10 ft tall and 4-6ft wide shrub also offers good red fall color as well as the very early bloom period when most other plants are still at rest.   Thethe



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Oustanding Bark for Winter Interest
by Kristopher Stone - posted 01/19/12

Sometimes you need some awesome winter interest to get you through those dreary winter days in Kentucky. While a good display of colorful fruit can be hard to beat, I think beautiful winter bark has more staying power because it never goes away. Yep, bark is pretty much bird proof!  Here are two of my favorites that I think could be used more in landscapes within our region:

China Snow Lilac (Syringa pekinensis) 'China Snow'- To me, this is one of the most stunning of all our plants in terms of winter bark interest at the Boone County Arboretum. The shiny deep copper-bronze bark that peels in elegant curls is simply amazing to see. This small to medium sized tree lilac puts on a nice show of huge fragrant white flower clusters in late spring (June) and can sometimes sporadically re-bloom later in summer. Fall color is usually yellow. When coupled with good drought tolerance, this makes an excellent alternative to flowering cherries which have similar bark. Below is a close up image of the bark on one of our China Snow lilacs at Boone County Arboretum.


Fox Valley River Birch (Betula nigra) 'Little King'-  . ---    Of course any good gardener knows that birches have long been considered the kings of colorful bark as a genus. Unfortunately many species can be a bit finicky in our Ohio Valley climate, or they grow too large for the average home landscape. Well, problem solved by Fox Valley River Birch (also know as Little King). This slower growing, and very compact version of River Birch is a much better choice for smaller landscapes, or where a less imposing specimen is needed. The tree pictured below is only about 10-12 ft tall and wide after about 12-15 years of growth here at the arboretum. We think 15-20 ft tall and wide might be a good eventual size for the plant. You can see the difference in this selection compared to Heritage river birch in the left background of the picture of the whole plant at the Arboretum.



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