Yew Dell Gardens

Klein's renown gardens now open
on a limited basis; public opening planned

By Helen McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (March 2004) – Spring has breathed new life into the multitude of plants, trees and shrubs at Yew Dell Gardens. The secluded North Camden Lane estate has opened on a limited basis to encourage an awareness of what Oldham County has to offer on a horticultural level.
“It will take us a while to get to the point where we’re open every day,” said director Dr. Paul Cappiello. Cappiello said he is currently concentrating his efforts on building a volunteer core, assembling a staff and using summer interns to establish a horticultural program on the 33-acre estate. He is putting all the essential pieces into place, “little by little.”

Paul with Theodore Klein

Photo provided

Paul Cappiello (left) with the late
Theodore Klein at Yew Dell Gardens.

Cappiello’s main focus is just to “get the word out. There are many people who don’t know this wonderful place is here.” He envisions Yew Dell Gardens as one day becoming a horticultural mecca for display gardens and an arboretum, and as an educational resource.
Yew Dell Gardens was the home of the late Theodore Klein, a local nurseryman and internationally known plant expert. Always willing to share his vast knowledge of trees and shrubs, his specialty was holly and yew plants, which he was constantly researching and developing new versions. Klein’s generosity was shown in the many holly species he donated to Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.
After Klein’s death, his estate fell into disrepair and was eventually purchased by the nonprofit Yew Dell, Inc. The group was formed with the goal of restoring the grounds, and it has raised $2.4 million in public and private funds toward a goal of $4.8 million.
As part of a series of opening events for 2004, Saturday tours are scheduled for the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon. The first tour was held Feb. 14, and Cappiello said a large crowd assembled for a tour that included evergreen hollies, conifers and witch hazel. These tours were designed to highlight plants that look best and are blooming at the time of the tour, he said.
These Saturdays are also volunteer days for the many friends of Yew Dell who assemble on the grounds at 9 a.m. ready to work. Volunteers have “done so much of the work,” said Cappiello.

Paul Cappiello

Paul Cappiello

The community has come together in other ways to reestablish the gardens at Yew Dell. Volunteers have given of their time to work in the office, and business owners in the horticultural industry have been tremendously involved as well, he said.
A volunteer committee has been assembled to train interested participants. Beginning in April, there will be a weekly Wednesday workday beginning at 9 a.m. to encourage volunteers who may not be able to attend Saturday morning volunteer days.
A series of lectures held off-grounds also offer a glimpse into the educational opportunities to be held at Yew Dell in the future. Last fall, Frank Cabot, noted gardener and founder of the Garden Conservatory, was the first lecture speaker. Horticulturalist Bill Hendricks headlined a second lecture. A third is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 11 at Lyndon City Hall. For $10, guests will learn about Maine wildflowers from William Mitchell, a professor affiliated with the Main landscape-horticulture program.
Yew Dell’s first public open house for 2004 will be held June 13. A plant sale, tours and lectures are also planned for this date. Cappiello said he is in the process of planning more classes and lectures for the rest of the year, to offer an “early glimpse” into Yew Dell’s potential.
Cappiello said a charter membership drive was instituted in November 2003, with five levels of membership.
Within the last year, several grants have been awarded to Yew Dell, Inc. to further restoration efforts. The James Graham Brown Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to address many of the physical needs of the property. Renovation and capital improvements to the gardens and to existing structures on the estate include the main house where Klein lived, a mini-castle that was once a pool house, greenhouses and a rare, historic bank barn.

Yew Dell map2

Yew Dell Gardens
location map

Cappiello said one of the biggest current projects is renovation of the bank barn. When completed it will be the largest single enclosed space on the property, ideal for on-site lectures. Cappiello said that after meeting with architects, he hopes to begin structure stability work this summer. “All of the buildings need some type of rehabilitation work,” he said.
A $75,000 Gheens Foundation Grant will go toward funding the bank barn project. Funding from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust in California will go toward signage and the charter member campaign. The Peyton Samuel Head Family Trust awarded money to be used for labeling species with permanent display labels, and assessing and renovating greenhouses at Yew Dell. Contributions from the W.L. Lyons Brown Foundation totaled $60,000 for rehabilitating the mini-castle, and $20,000 was received from the Kentucky Division of Forestry.
Local garden clubs have adopted garden spots at Yew Dell, said Cappiello. Glenview Garden Club, a member of the Garden Club of America, has awarded $20,000 to Yew Dell for the stabilization and restoration of a walled, terraced garden behind the main house, said Glenview Project Committee Chairperson Barbara Sandford. Of the total amount, $10,000 was awarded immediately, and the balance is pledged contingent upon the success of the annual Glenview Garden Club’s Garden Tour to be held June 5-6.
Proceeds for this garden tour are taken “from the community and go back into the community,” said Sandford. Many members of the Glenview Garden Club volunteer and serve on Yew Dell, Inc.’s board of directors.
The Glenview Garden Club has held workshops at Yew Dell’s castle, led by Cappiello, said president Ward Tabler. She can foresee many more educational opportunities in the form of workshops and meetings at the estate.
Tabler said Yew Dell is “really what the Glenview Garden Club stands for. We place an emphasis on education.” Yew Dell is “such a hidden jewel,” she said.
Cappiello is also excited about Yew Dell’s involvement with a group in the state that coordinates the Theodore Klein Plant Award. This award promotes new and better landscaping plants for the region, he said. “It’s a nice thing to be involved with.”

• For more information, call (502) 241-4788 or visit: www.yewdellgardens.org.

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