Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

| April 20, 2011

Yew Dell Botanical GardenMy significant other and I have a-wedding-a-month until November (and two in June), so I took this calm before the storm and ventured out to Yew Dell Botanical Gardens seeking solace from everyone else’s wedding bells – only to be slapped in the face by nature.

It could have been the castle fit for Narnia or the 61 acres of picturesque landscape, but upon arriving, I felt as though I had stepped into “The Princess Bride.”

Beginning with one tree in 1941, commercial nurseryman Theodore Klein and wife, Martha Lee Klein, spent the next 50-plus years developing their private estate into what we now know as Yew Dell.

Yew Dell has a wide range of garden styles and more than 60 unique propagated plant varieties, and the Kleins also collected more than a thousand unusual specimen trees and shrubs now displayed in the arboretum. One of the more beautiful landscape structures has got to be Holly Alley. Klein trained two rows of American hollies into an evergreen tunnel, which leads back to his Secret Garden and just screams bridal aisle!

Originally created to grace the entrance drive to the property, the Serpentine Gardens house a collection of evergreens tied together by taxus – or in layman’s terms, yew, which is where we find the property’s namesake.

Yew Dell Botanical GardenKlein’s extensive horticulture knowledge went hand-in-hand with his self-taught craftsmanship and is responsible for the structures scattered throughout the property. From the castle Klein built as a pool house for his family to his personal home, the land is rich in soil and history, which only adds to the appeal.

Since Klein’s death in 1998, constant efforts have been made to preserve the history of the land and to create a growing interest in this public garden. After experiencing the spectacular array of foliage first-hand, I see why. Once you uncover something as amazing as Yew Dell, you simply want the world to know – or at least the greater Louisville area to know.

As part of the Garden Conservancy, a national, nonprofit organization, Yew Dell has transformed this once private garden into an oasis for anyone to enjoy. From formal topiary to traditional English walled gardens, there is plenty of inspiration at Yew Dell.

As captivating as the history of Yew Dell is, I wondered what happens after the picnic?

Not much for sitting in the grass all day? No worries. Yew Dell has you – and your kids – covered.

Yew Dell Botanical GardenStarting April 21, they will begin a series of concerts in the Peyton Samuel Head Trust Pavilion, featuring the Harry Pickens Trio, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, Bourbon Baroque and more. There’s nothing like experiencing bluegrass music right in the heart of the bluegrass.

For your children, or the child at heart, Yew Dell recently launched a new educational program titled Children in the Dell. Every Saturday morning (with the exception of May 7) until Oct. 22, the gardens will open up from 10:30 a.m. to noon for children 5 and up to join educators on adventures. Activities include  nature hikes, flower planting and scavenger hunts.

Yew Dell Botanical GardenIn need of some hand-picked gardening goods? On April 30, Yew Dell will host its annual plant sale and garden market. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers will be on-hand to serve as a source for your landscaping needs. Anyone can enjoy a variety of vendors, children’s activities and food.

With Yew Dell membership packages ranging from $35 to $1,000, you can find something to cure your green thumb craving or simply a go-to picnic spot.

Yew Dell is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

To schedule a tour, call 502.241.4788 or visit

Interesting Arcana

Castle Terrace, the site of the original built-in pool, came complete with windows that allowed Klein’s children to swim underwater and waive to the cows in the fields below. Long since filled in, the terrace now provides an excellent view to the Overlook Garden, Meadow and Woodland with a mile of hiking trails.

Contact writer Lauren DePaso at or 502.498.2051.

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Out & About

About the Author (Author Profile)

Lauren DePaso
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.

Comments are closed.