'Twilight in the Garden'

Gheens Bank Barn to be unveiled
at Yew Dell Gardens event

The facility, pavilion highlight 33-acre estate

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

Oct. 2006 Kentucky Edition Cover

October 2006 Kentucky Edition Cover with Yew
Dell Gardens Executive Director Paul Cappiello

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (October 2006) – Betsie Taylor views the new Gheens Barn and Peyton Samuel Head Pavilion at Yew Dell Gardens as the ultimate educational experience for horticulturalists and hobbyist gardeners alike. Before it even opens, the historic barn has been booked well in advance to play host to a wide variety of events.
The Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association held its seventh summer outing there on Sept. 23. This event caters to industry folks, said Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association Executive Director Betsie Taylor.
“A lot of people in our industry knew Theodore Klein,” said Taylor. So it is only natural to her that they would come to Yew Dell Gardens to study and continue the horticultural legacy that Klein began.
Klein was an internationally known and respected nurseryman and plant expert who devoted much of his life to horticulture. His 33-acre estate in Crestwood, Ky., called Yew Dell Gardens showcases his passion for trees and plants, and is a repository of historic trees.
Klein created a private horticultural collection of more than 1,137 plant specimens that are showcased in stunning gardens throughout the acreage. He developed new versions of holly, redbud, sugar maple, yew, dogwood, weeping katsura and witchhazel.

‘Twilight in the Garden’

• 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at
Yew Dell Gardens, Crestwood, KY
• Tickets: $125 per person or
$1,250 for tables of 10.
• Includes: Light buffet, cocktails,
live music, silent and live auctions.
• Information: (502) 241-4788 or

The Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association members would like to one-day partner with Yew Dell, said Taylor. “There are endless possibilities” of what can be done at Yew Dell, she said.
The completion of the Gheens Barn and Peyton Samuel Head Pavilion has been eagerly anticipated. A ribbon-cutting celebration is planned for the “Twilight in the Garden” gala on Oct. 13. The Gheens Barn, originally built as a bank barn, has been rehabilitated to incorporate audiovisual facilities, meeting space and breathtaking views overlooking a meadow in the valley below the building.

Yew Dell Gardens Garden

Photo by Don Ward

Yew Dell Gardens offers visitors a
tranquil and peaceful place to stroll
among trees, plants and garden fountains.
The gardens contain more than 2,000 rare
specimen trees, shrubs and perennials,
including some that the late
Theodore Klein personally
introduced to the nursery trade.

The Peyton Samuel Head Pavilion is connected to the barn by a glass bridge. It will include an outdoor stage, catering facilities and public restrooms, amenities that are greatly needed when staging events at the barn and connecting pavilion.
This is the third year for the gala, said Leslie Buddeke, director of development and marketing. “It is the largest fund raiser for Yew Dell.” Buddeke said she hopes to raise $70,000, an amount that will support the operating budget.
This garden cocktail attire gala will consist of a live and silent auction, a jazz band, food catered by The Silver Spoon, and donor recognition. Buddeke said approximately 400 guests are expected. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to stroll through the gardens,” she said.
The Gheens Barn is a “much needed facility for us,” said Buddeke. It will be used primarily as an educational and meeting facility.
It will enable the majority of educational programming to take place on site, said Yew Dell Gardens Executive Director Paul Cappiello. It will bring back to life a central part of Klein’s vision.
The Gheens Barn is an example of a bank barn and provides a unique historical character to the property, said Cappiello. Traditionally, bank barns were built into the side of a hill and contained two levels. The lower level housed animals, while the upper level held a threshing floor and storage. Klein built the barn in the late 1940s and used it as a dairy barn.
Construction was not intended to begin last fall when it did. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit, the price of building materials rose, and Cappiello thought it would be wise to move ahead and begin the project ahead of schedule.
Roberto de Leon and Ross Primmer of Deleon & Primmer Architecture Workshop drew up the designs for the Gheens Barn rehabilitation. This company did so much more for us than we asked them to, said Cappiello.
De Leon said this was a “fun project.” The quality that made it so unique was the collaborative participation from everybody involved, said de Leon. From his perspective, the fact that everyone pulled together made it so rewarding.
Everything that could be salvaged was, said de Leon, in order to preserve Klein’s legacy.
The barn carries his style of eccentricity and is still adorned with his amazing handmade birdhouses.

Yew Dell Gardens Castle

Photo by Don Ward

The Yew Dell Gardens Castle was built
in the 1950s as a pool house.

The design for the Gheens Barn and pavilion developed over time as the design team visited the barn throughout the different seasons. “The building fluxes with the seasons,” said de Leon.
The barn and pavilion are a combination of rustic versus utilitarian.
The design team wanted to preserve the historic character of the barn. “We preserved details most would overlook,” said de Leon. The team was able to preserve Klein’s air of whimsy, wit and sense of delight.
“I encourage people to come out and see Yew Dell,” said de Leon. “A lot of people do not know its there.” Many are surprised at what is literally in their own backyard.
The renovation project began with a price of $200,000 to $300,000 but exceeded that amount as construction continued. It was funded through grants from the Gheens Foundation, Peyton Samuel Head Trust, James Graham Brown Foundation as well as other foundations and individuals.
“We were very fortunate to have a wonderful team like Primmer and de Leon,” said Mary Rounsavall, Yew Dell board of directors president. The barn and pavilion will function as a rental facility for weddings and corporate retreats. It is also an important piece of income, said Rounsavall.

Gheen Lab

Photo by Don Ward

The new pavilion overlooking a valley
provides a serene setting for events.

The barn was rehabilitated for several reasons, the main one being that “we need it,” she said. It was falling down, and though it would have been more economical to destroy it and build a new one, that would have taken away from the nuances of the building.
It will also be available as a community resource, Rounsavall said. Plans are in the works for children’s summer camps and classes to be held at Yew Dell gardens next year. “It was an honor to save an old building.”
Cappiello will still head research on different varieties of plants, which will result in an opportunity to work with breeders and nurseries all over the world.
Such research is conducted to determine what varieties of plants perform best in this climate.
“This is an excellent facility for the community to have available to them,” said Cappiello. “There are not a tremendous number of facilities like this. That’s why it’s so important to get people on the grounds.”

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