During his 33-year tenure at the Louisville Times and The Courier Journal, Bob Hill wrote more than 4,000 columns all about life, liberties and pursuing happiness.
The award-winning prose often mixed satire and humor, and Hill wasn’t one to shy away from controversy, either.
While writing kept his bills paid, his real passion was playing in the garden. Hill and his wife, Janet, bought a 150-year-old farm house in Southern Indiana nearly 42 years ago, and they have since transformed the six acres of weeds — his words — into the Hidden Hill Nursery & Sculpture Garden.
The mini arboretum and art gallery will open this year on Friday, March 30.
Hill, who retired from The CJ in 2008, tells us he’s looking forward to a new season at Hidden Hill because he’s adding a few new features.
“We are putting up a 22-foot butterfly dome and will feature butterflies all summer and fall, especially monarchs, and will add a lot of garden and folk art done by local artists,” he says. Some of those artists include Craig Caviar, Matt Weir, Samantha Griffith, Jen Pellerin, Joe Autry, Caren Cunningham and Joel Pinkerton, among many others.
Hill continues to be involved in the literary community, and on Wednesday, Feb. 28, he’ll host an open mic event that blends both his passions: prose and plants. “Romancing the Plant” is an evening of open-mic readings sponsored by Louisville Literary Arts and the Waterfront Botanical Gardens.
The readings will revolve around nature, and anyone is welcome to share their poetry or other narrative that is four minutes or less in length. The event will be held at Fantes Coffee House, 2501 Grinstead Drive, from 6-8 p.m. and is free.
Hill has served on the Botanica’s horticultural committee for seven years, and he’s been extremely involved in helping to pick the plants for the future Botanical Gardens site. He believes the gardens will add so much to our thriving downtown — “especially in education of children,” he says. “And it will boost tourism and make Louisville an even better place to live.”
We caught up with Hill before he takes the mic Wednesday night to ask him some very important questions…
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
Freestyle landscape painter — no spelling required.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
What wall? I slept on a rollaway bed with two brothers in bunk beds a few feet away in a room the size of a Squareback Volkswagen.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
To the man or woman who has spent the most time working on a city garbage truck.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
Ice cream, crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
I’d take 45 — when I still had hair, my jump shot and first developing a modicum of maturity.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
Ed O’Neill of Al Bundy and “Modern Family” fame.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
Jim Croce, John Prine, Charles Schulz, Garry Trudeau, Annie Dillard, Warren Buffett and Barack Obama.