“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” As a child, I loved the movie “The Secret Garden” and all the beautiful garden magic it depicts. Over the past year, I have grown a new appreciation for nature (especially plants) and the beauty of the outdoors. There is something about tuning into nature that makes me feel good. It’s now April, spring has finally sprung, and I wanted to share some special gardens that are part of the Dogwood Arts Festival, but that are not so secret anymore.
Dogwood Arts is a non-profit organization that promotes and celebrates our region’s art, culture, and natural beauty by hosting several events in the month of April and hosting the most celebrated event in Knoxville: the Dogwood Arts Festival. There are other events that are part of the Dogwood Arts however that you don’t want to miss out on such as the chalk(your)walk, hikes and blooms, and bikes and blooms. My most favorite part of the festival are the featured gardens. Move over Mary Lennox; these Knoxville gardens will give you a run for your money.
The two featured gardens this year are Anderson Estate and GATOP. They are open for one weekend only to the public on SATURDAY, APRIL 17TH: 10AM-5PM and SUNDAY, APRIL 18TH: 12PM-5PM. (Please note that several of the gardens require extensive walking; comfortable walking or hiking shoes are recommended.) Although this event is outdoors, masks will be REQUIRED at all times per the property owner’s request. The gardens are privately owned and there is limited parking at each garden. Guests will be admitted on a first come first served basis. This event is free, though a $5 donation per garden is suggested.
(FRED & SANDRA ANDERSON)
2723 SMALLWOOD DRIVE
KNOXVILLE, TN 37920
Set on a hilltop overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains, Anderson Estate is a plant collector’s garden. It features an extensive hosta collection with over 500 varieties and also includes a wide assortment of azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, conifers and a native plant display garden. The kitchen garden with 11 raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and berries is home to an apiary. The property also includes a cemetery from the 1800s, an Enchanted Forest, and a professionally landscaped frog haven with a bubbling brook and waterfall.
DR. ALAN SOLOMON
2541 RIVERSIDE DRIVE
KNOXVILLE, TN 37914
Included in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens, GATOP (God’s Answer To Our Prayers) features many hundreds of botanical specimens such as conifers and hollies, extensive displays of wildflowers, perennials, and ground covers, as well as numerous water features and large marble outcroppings. Complimenting this unusual garden are stainless-steel, iron, bronze, and stone sculptures. The site features one of Knoxville’s oldest marble quarries.
Open Gardens and Camera Sites
With over 20 acres of themed gardens, Baxter Gardens was a literal secret garden. It is a private residence (the reason it was a secret to me), but they open their garden to the public for the whole month of April from 9am-dusk daily. It felt like the Biltmore gardens of Knoxville. From the statues, water features, flowers, and hilltop views, it literally felt like I was in a fairytale and I didn’t want to leave.
For more information on Baxter Gardens and to view the list of other open gardens (get out of the car and enjoy a stroll through the garden) and camera sites (photos only, please do not enter the property) go here.
I hope you take the time this month to enjoy the art and nature of the Dogwood Arts Festival. You can find the addresses to these gardens on the Dogwood Arts website and their Facebook page. Please be sure to read and follow their COVID rules and guidelines.