Real-Life Magic at Yew Dell

Photos by Tim Valentino

By Graham Pilotte  |  Out & About

If you’ve ever wondered what inspires the idea of an enchanted garden, your question is answered. Yew Dell Botanical Gardens are 60 acres of pure magic located in Crestwood. As a botanical garden, they include display gardens, unusual plants and even a tiny castle. And, especially for this time of year, there may be no more charming place to go.

The magic of Yew Dell lies in the wide expanse of nature that surrounds visitors. Jackie Gulbe, Yew Dell’s director of marketing and events, encourages anyone to come to the gardens. “It’s a great place for people,” she says. “You can be a die-hard horticulture professional and come see plants you don’t see anywhere else, or you can be a novice who’s not totally sure what your level of interest is.” No matter what, there is something for you to explore at Yew Dell. “We have display gardens, an arboretum, a woodland area with a hiking trail and a pond,” Gulbe says. “It’s just a great place for people.”

Yew Dell Director of Marketing and Events Jackie Gulbe with writer Graham Pilotte.

Yew Dell is also set apart by both local and national recognition. “We were voted one of the top 10 destination gardens in the U.S. by Horticulture Magazine,” Gulbe says proudly. “We’re also on the national register of historic places, and USA Today voted us one of the Top 25 places for unique architecture.” A stroll through the area reveals walls, greenhouses and even a cabin and the small castle, all with unique charm.

The gardens were perfect for a Mother’s Day celebration, and even though Mom’s big day has passed this year, why not make Mother’s Day year-round? As Gulbe asserts, “It’s a great place to come after lunch, or after church. You can come and bring Mom for a walk or a picnic, or to the garden gift shop to let her pick out a gift.” The small, unique shop at the front of the gardens features everything from garden accessories to home decor to jewelry — the perfect spot to browse after your visit.

For newcomers, visiting can be as flexible or as structured as you want. “You’ll stop by the garden gift shop and check in with staff,” Gulbe explains, “and you can take a self-guided tour. Our staff is generally out working, and they’re used to answering questions from A to Z — everything from plants to history to architecture.” She recommends about an hour to explore the core of the gardens, and the same for the hiking trail or arboretum; although, of course, you can spend as much or as little time as you’d like.

For a more structured visit, Gulbe recommends taking a look at the programming that Yew Dell offers — there’s everything from pre-registered yoga classes to casual scavenger hunt lists. “We have a book and blanket checkout for some quiet time, or kids’ backpacks with magnifying glasses and sketchpads, all free to check out at the gift shop,” Gulbe suggests.

And while at the gardens, be sure to find its most classic features, its tiny castle not far from the entrance being just one.

Another beautiful place is the Holly Alleé, a hidden path bordered by rows of holly trees. Gulbe also recommends taking time to visit the arboretum. “It’s well worth it,” she says genuinely. “I can’t even explain the feeling you get when you walk through the collection of trees.”

So when you’re next looking to add a little bit of enchantment to your daily life, Yew Dell is ready and waiting. Whether you’re visiting on Father’s Day (June 18 — mark your calendars!) or another special occasion, the gardens are a beautiful way to add some magic to the everyday. “You can get as involved as you want, spend an hour or spend the day,” Gulbe says. “It’s good for your brain and for your overall well-being. Being in nature soothes you somehow.” Taking a day to unplug and slow down allows the deeper charm of Yew Dell to soak in. “It somehow touches people with an appreciation for nature and everything that nature brings,” Gulbe says. Real magic, after all. VT

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

6220 Old LaGrange Road