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New Addition

Yew Dell Gardens
to break ground on greenhouse

New facilities will expand
the center’s educational program

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (January 2013) – For the first decade of its existence, the staff at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens has spent its time rehabilitating the property, developing goals for the organization, and establishing programming. Now that they have stable ground under their feet, the time has come to expand and update their facilities to better showcase what the gardens have to offer.
Yew Dell Gardens has had remarkable success over the last decade as evidenced by Horticulture Magazine listing it as one of its Top 10 Destination Gardens in 2011. “Our research and education programs have blossomed and the gardens are now enjoyed by thousands every year,” said Paul Cappiello, executive director of Yew Dell Botanical Gardens.

Greenhouse rendition

Photo provided

The above rendition shows
what the future greenhouse will
look like. Construction is
expected to begin in spring.

All of these accomplishments were done with rudimentary facilities, he said. “Can you imagine what we’ll be able to accomplish once we have up-to-date facilities?”
Expansion plans include installation of a solar-geo-thermal heated-cooled greenhouse and renovation of the potting shed building to become the Preston T. Ormsby Horticulture Center. The former potting shed will become the greenhouses’ headhouse and also provide teaching and work space, becoming the center of daily operations for the staff. A mobile high tunnel structure will enable staff to grow vegetables throughout the winter with no added heat.
The expansion will benefit Yew Dell in many ways, said Cappiello. In terms of education, “The facilities will allow us to greatly expand the quantity and quality of our classes and workshops; from herb workshops to classes on growing winter vegetables at home, to pruning and grafting and everything in between.”
The facilities will serve as exhibits as well, he said. The greenhouse will show growers how they can design and operate greenhouses having much lower utility bills. The green roof on the north side of the greenhouse will demonstrate another technique to drastically reduce greenhouse operating costs while growing a variety of plants that can thrive in this type of environment with the use of a modular tray system. The solar-geothermal system will produce energy for lights and charge Yew Dell’s electric golf carts.
The greenhouse will be “banked into the side of the hill to take full advantage of the insulation value of the ground,” Cappiello said. In addition to using De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop, Yew Dell Gardens has employed Rough Brothers of Cincinnati, a company that has been making the highest quality greenhouses for more than 80 years.
“They are recognized across the United States for their top quality design and engineering, and also for their willingness to collaborate with other design professionals,” said Cappiello.

Greenhouse rendition

Photo provided

The future greenhouse at
Yew Dell Gardens will be designed
to fit the historical nature of
the property, officials say.

The architectural firm of De Leon & Primmer are “ensuring that the greenhouse fits in with the historical nature of the property, carries the creative spirit that (Yew Dell founder) Theodore Klein instilled in everything he built here, and meets the very high architectural bar they’ve helped us set in all our building projects,” he said.
“Klein built lots of little things, like bird houses attached to buildings” said Lindsey Stoughton, Project Manager for this project at Yew Dell Gardens. “It’s important to preserve all of his character” in the new buildings. She said her firm documented such elements and then discussed with the contractor ways to incorporate them into the new plans.
Stoughton said that Yew Dell Gardens had “a lot of input on what they wanted in the design. We try to stay very connected to the client when designing.” Materials and colors were chosen from the beginning, setting a criteria that was established early on in the project.
She said the sustainable aspect and passive strategies such as natural ventilation make the design unique. Each design element was created to make the improvements as functional as possible.
The firm is responsible for the two largest and most significant projects to date at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens: Gheens Barn and Peyton Samuel Head Trust Pavilion and the Garden Shop-Visitor Center. Both structures have won the American Institute of Architects’ highest design award.
The new facilities will allow the staff at Yew Dell Gardens more room for research. “All the past plant collection, evaluation and development work has been done – quite literally – on window sills and in temporary structures,” said Cappiello. “The ability to have a fully functioning, modern greenhouse and production nurseries will greatly increase our efficiency and expand the potential of this work.”
Yew Dell Assistant Director Karla Drover said, “We are at the point where we are ready to take the next step in the world of horticulture. It’s difficult to do the work at a botanical garden without a greenhouse and efficient potting shed. We’re eager to move up to a more productive space.”
With the addition of water and electricity in the potting shed, “the staff will be able to have tables to work on at the correct height and have the tools and equipment they need access to in close proximity of where they are working,” said Drover. “The greenhouse will have equipment to enhance propagation and enough room for teaching classes. Yew Dell will be able to grow some plants that need winter protection.”
The overall total cost of the project is expected to be $1.3 million. So far, $1.1 million has been raised. Currently, “we have a $25,000 challenge grant before us,” said Cappiello. For every dollar raised in the next few months, an anonymous donor will match it up to the amount of $25,000.
Louisville gardener Mary Myers is responsible for the initial capital gift to help begin the project. Cappiello said, “Mrs. Myers is a very generous member who wanted to help us realize this essential part of Yew Dell’s growth and development.”
Cappiello said he is hoping to break ground in January and for the greenhouse and horticulture center building to be complete by early summer 2013. Other facilities will be added as time and funding allows, he said. Louisville-based Kiel Thomson Co. will serve as general contractor.

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