Kendall Sculpture Garden | Purchase, New York

Posted by on April 25, 2001

Lucky delegates to this May’s GCA Annual Meeting in Rye, New York, will have the opportunity to see the remarkable Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo’s International Headquarters. This tour is one of the optional Sunday morning events being offered by our club’s volunteers.

I first learned about this unexpected garden about ten years ago, when I went to PepsiCo in Purchase to get yellow fever shots for a trip to Southern Africa. For some altruistic reason, PepsiCo offers this service to travelers.

PepsiCo welcomes the public with open arms to stroll through this vast garden area, providing plenty of parking and a chart of the paths, lake and details of all the sculpture and specimen trees. It is reached via Route 684 to the Westchester County Airport Exit and then following the signs to SUNY-Purchase. (PepsiCo is right across the road.)

The landscaping was done by Edward Durell Stone, Jr., son of the famous architect, who designed the building.

Wandering around the main building, I saw, in quick succession, a Henry Moore, a Jacques Lipshitz, an Aristide Maillol. Then as I left the building, I saw out a large window, an arresting orange Alexander Calder stabile, way out on the lawn. I began to realize how big this garden really was. First I drove around, and then I parked the car, and walked for over an hour, in the rain. The whole place is so captivating that I didn’t even notice the rain.

There is a birch garden, a Gold Garden, an Ornamental Grass Garden, a Perennial Border, and a Water lily Pond, among others. All are startling in one way or another. Garden clubbers will really enjoy all the plantings and placements.

Throughout the entire 168 acres, there are 20th century sculptures. There were about 42 of them at the time I was there, including many greats: George Segal, Claes Oldenburg, Jean Dubuffet, Tony Smith, Louise Nevelson.

As one follows the path around the lake, one is startled by Louise Nevelson’s huge, black 25 foot tall “Celebration II.” It is surrounded by black-leafed copper beech trees in a semi-circle, and completely under planted with deep burgundy ornamental grasses. The effect is eerie, but unforgettable. This is just a small indication of what awaits you at the Kendall Sculpture Gardens. We are very lucky to have a place like this nearby. It is reminiscent of Storm King, in a slightly different setting.

If you haven’t been there, put it on your list, and take a Garden Club friend. It’s only a little over an hour from most of our homes.

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