Cathedral Gardens a hot stop
are flocking to see
his creations near Scottsburg
HENRYVILLE, Ind. (July 2005) When the helicopters
first circled to get a better view of Dave Daughertys elaborate
gardens, he hardly took notice. But when they kept coming back, he decided
it was time to open the doors to the public.
by Debra Maylum
Gardens attracts visitors
throughout the summer.
The Louisville Courier-Journal ran a feature on Daughertys
project in October 2002, giving the public its first in-depth look at
Cathedral Gardens. The photos were too enticing. People wanted in.
There were phone calls, helicopters. We couldnt believe
it, he admitted.
Daugherty, 69, purchased 52 acres of land in Henryville in 1993, hoping
to build a cabin there for himself and his wife. The successful Louisville
engineer and software developer was anticipating retirement and thought
the plot would allow him the space necessary to unwind and pursue his
The story of Daughertys career is a happy one. While he reluctantly
turned down a music scholarship for a more practical engineering degree,
his decision paid off. Daugherty joined the Army Corps of Engineers
in the 1960s to build dams along the Ohio River before working for local
government consulting with property developers and overseeing drainage
He eventually started EAS Technologies, an innovator in labor management
systems. At EAS in the 1980s, Daugherty pioneered one of the first automated
payroll systems. Daugherty contracted his services and software to large
businesses, including Kroger, Mercedes and the Pentagon, as well as
international corporations. He sold out in the mid 1990s to Minneapolis-based
Ceridian, a company specializing in human resources and payroll management.
This allowed him the time and money his masterpiece would require.
Retirement proved too idle for Daugherty, and he was soon toiling away
on his new property. He built his cabin, and the work has not stopped
since. He put his engineering experience to work, draining, damming
and sculpting what was once a marshy dumping ground.
Daugherty soon found that his land was rich in resources. He unearthed
a creek bed lined with brownstone, which he used to handcraft a series
of retaining walls and terraces.
With his land drained, he set about gardening. Ive built
12 separate gardens, one at a time, said Daugherty. Eventually,
he added three full-time employees to help construct and maintain his
Daugherty named his property Cathedral Gardens to reflect the spiritual
aspects of his work. Faith was influential in the construction of the
gardens, a fact evident in the religious-themed sculpture and verse
that ornament the grounds.
Along its one-mile of paved courses, the land boasts 15 acres of gardens
and 30 acres of manicured lawns, along with Daughertys greenhouses,
which produce the 15,000 annuals he plants yearly. There are ponds and
waterways, gazebos, statuary and a sound system that pipes classical
music throughout the gardens. A dozen fountains propel thousands of
gallons of water into the air every minute. The collective result is
what Daugherty calls a panoramic tribute to Almighty God.
Each garden utilizes a different theme. China Bay features
a pagoda and eastern influenced design, while Saracens Retreat
includes a Moorish-styled shelter and colonnade that evoke southeastern
Spanish architecture. Greek Garden infuses imagery from classical Greece
with lush vegetation. Christs Garden, which Daugherty built in
2000, overlooks the other areas. A fountain in the shape of the cross
sits at the center of the garden.
The latest addition is a parcel of land surrounded by a Venice-inspired
canal. Still a work in progress, the Venetian Garden will include a
pavilion with seating for 200, where visitors can watch live performances
of music and dance.
Daugherty conceded to demand in 2003 and began admitting visitors but
only began advertising last year.
It was never my intention to open publicly, but we realized after
people responded to the Courier-Journal article that there was a great
demand for this, he explained. Now we try to fulfill a need
in a segment of the population. Theres a need for grace, beauty,
peace, and tranquility. We try to provide that, and a lot of people
resonate with it.
Bob McAdams, director of the Scott County Visitors Commission, is one
of those wowed by Daugherty and his works.
Its one of the most spectacular things in the state,
said McAdams, who has recently come to know Daugherty personally.
In addition to his career accomplishments, hes an incredibly
talented artist. Its like the gardens come from the other side
of his brain.
Cathedral Gardens played host to 2,500 visitors in 2004, and Daugherty
is hoping to bring in 7,000 this season, which runs May to October.
Admission is $12. Daugherty personally leads tours, which depart at
9 a.m., 11 a.m. 1 p.m., 3 p.m. (EDT-fast time). Each section of the
Gardens is fully accessible, and visitors may choose to walk the tour
or enjoy the sights from one of two golf cart limousines.
In July, visitors will enjoy the blossoming hydrangeas and dahlias.
The dozen varieties of pastel waterlillies will also be out in full
force. Site-grown plants are sometimes available for purchase.
Cathedral Gardens also began hosting weddings in 2003, and Daugherty
expects the opening of the Venetian Garden to expand capacity for weddings
from 60 to about 200 guests. In June, Daugherty witnessed another first
a man proposed to his bride at Christs Garden. Fortunately,
she accepted, he laughed.
Daugherty was reluctant to open his private sanctuary to the public
but has been overwhelmed with the quality of visitors. A large
percentage of people are deeply moved by their experience here,
It seems guests find the gardens as sacred as Daugherty does. Of
the thousands of visitors that have come through, Ive only had
to pick up one scrap of paper about an inch long.
For more information on Cathedral Gardens, visit www.cathedralgardens.com
or call (812) 294-3193.
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