Gardening for the Greater Good

The annual Kilgore Home & Garden Tour offers access to Louisville’s most beautiful gardens while helping those in need


By Laura Ross
Photos by Page Penna


The Kilgore Home and Garden Tour has offered peeks into lush gardens and homes across Louisville for 21 years. The popular event is produced by volunteers for the Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center, a mission of Second Presbyterian Church and St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church. The non-profit counseling center was founded in 1987 through the vision of Betty Moss Gibbs and is named in memory of her father, Ben Kilgore.

Betty and her husband were avid gardeners, so a natural fundraising effort grew out of their passion for gardening and became the Kilgore Home and Garden Tour. The event has raised thousands of dollars to ensure no one needing mental health services is ever turned away from Kilgore for an inability to pay.

Usually held in May, but beset by the pandemic, Kilgore took a calculated risk and held the 2020 event in June and only offered outdoor gardens. “It was a smash hit,” said Ken Fleming, executive director of Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center. “People wanted to get out and do things. They needed to see gardens and smell the flowers to give them a feeling of relief.”

This year’s tour will feature two homes and six gardens on June 12-13. Guests are encouraged to pace themselves through the gardens and maintain social distancing. A special treat on June 11 includes Flower School 101 with Michael Gaffney, featuring a two-hour demonstration and lecture with the famed author, personality and executive director of the American School of Flower Design. The Kilgore Home and Garden Tour is held rain or shine and tickets for the tour, Flower School and raffle can be purchased on the Kilgore website and at select retail locations.

“We use the garden tour as a good foundation for how we approach counseling and therapy as we help people navigate their journey through their challenges,” said Fleming.

All proceeds benefit Kilgore’s counseling services, which treat children, adults and families struggling with mental health issues and addiction. “We have seen quite a few people recently,” said Fleming.  “We had a record-setting year of folks with anxiety, depression, overwhelming parenting issues and the stress of the pandemic, working at home and trying to manage school. It has affected the entire family structure.”

“These are people who need healing,” he added. “Like the gardens we feature, you must plant a seed, water it and manage it. It’s a reflection of what you go through in therapy.”

Kilgore’s therapists often combine psychotherapy and spiritual approaches. “It’s a unique layer of guidance that spans all faith traditions,” said Fleming. “We have a chaplain on staff and several therapists who’ve studied theology or attained divinity degrees. We treat both mind and soul.” 

Kilgore’s team of counselors and therapists includes psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists and pastoral counselors. Kilgore treats families, with specialized counseling for children, adolescents and the elderly, and provides psychological testing, behavior consulting, relationship and marriage counseling and addiction counseling. 

“We put the entire family on a better path,” explained Fleming.

As the world navigates difficult waters through the uncertainness of the pandemic, Fleming stresses the need to realize if you’re drowning in worry, addiction or anxiety, to ask if you need a lifeline. Kilgore can provide the steps to recovery. 

“Even though we have different faces, we face the same challenges mentally and spiritually,” he said. “Kilgore Samaritan Counseling is here to help you breach those barriers. It’s easy to go to a doctor and get fixed for a broken arm, but when it comes to mental health, too many people say, ‘Oh, I’ll get over it.’  Our approach is intricate. We combine the body, mind and spirit to help people overcome those barriers and say, ‘Hey we are all on this boat together.’ It always helps to talk with others.”

The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center
918 Ormsby Lane
Louisville, KY 40242

Kilgore Home and Garden Tour
June 12 and 13, 2021
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rain or shine

Gardens on the 2021 Tour:
4023 Norbourne Boulevard
5105 Dunvegan Road
The Gardens at the Avish, Avish Lane off River Road
7915 Westover Drive
1208 Evergreen Road
108 Mt. Mercy Drive, Pewee Valley, Kentucky

 The Kilgore Home and Garden Tour is a self-guided tour. Guests may begin at any of the addresses listed.

Flower School 101 with Michael Gaffney

Friday, June 11 at Second Presbyterian Church, 3701 Brownsboro Road

Flower School 101 features a two-hour lecture and demonstration where Michael will create ten arrangements. Additionally, there is an opportunity for 50 people to attend a two-hour class where Michael will show you how to create three of your own arrangements.

Flower School:
Morning Lecture: 9–11 am; Limited attendance for $75
Book Signing: 11–12 pm
Morning Lecture and afternoon Workshop: 1–3 pm; Limit is 50 people for $150
Tickets: kilgorecounseling.org