We went to Nashville to visit our daughter for several days. While there we decided to explore the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. Christopher T. Cheeks and his wife moved to Nashville in 1880. Their cousin, Joel Cheek, developed a superior blend of coffee which was popular in the best hotel of Nashville, called the Maxwell House Hotel. This hotel had been built by Colonel John Overton and named for his wife Harriett Maxwell. The Cheek family was an investor in the coffee. In 1928, Postum (now called General Foods) purchased the Maxwell House coffee brand for more than $40 million. The Cheeks‘ investment had given them good return and they purchased 100 acres in West Nashville for a country estate. The estate, completed in 1932, included a 30,000 square foot Georgian-style mansion and extensive formal gardens which became Cheekwood. Cheekwood opened to the public in 1960. Cheekwood Gardens is a community leader in conservation and reclamation. They removed invasive exotic species and replaced them with many native plant colonies.
In Nashville they call the estate “the house that coffee built.” The 55-acre garden (220,000 m2) has great horticultural diversity. There are 10 specialty display gardens. The mansion can be visited too but we did not. This will be for a future visit. When we arrived and parked in Parking Lot B, in the center of the map above, we saw a great number of people with dogs. This was the “Cover Dog Search” sponsored by the Nashville Lifestyles magazine. The winning entry will be featured on the cover of the May issue of the magazine.
There was a long line of dog owners with their pets. So many dogs! tiny to huge, all different breeds and colors.
When they reached the top of the line a photographer would take the picture of the dog, with its number. The magazine readers can vote online for their favorite dog (you can look at the dogs here– my favorite is no. 175.)
We left the crowd and walked toward the reflecting pool.
From there we could hear many frogs croaking. We walked down to this frog pond to see if we could watch the frogs.
My! I have never seen so many frogs – swimming, croaking and courting.
One frog jumped near my husband and he caught it for a little while so our grandsons could look at it closer – they were fascinated.
Then the little boys ran up a meadow to look at the lions which we could barely see on top of the hill.
The lions were looking toward the mansion – keeping an eye on it I guess.
The meadow was covered with tiny wild flowers; daffodils and narcissi could be seen here and there.
I called my grandsons to tell them that I had seen a rabbit – so they came running – but what a rabbit…
Actually this is a sculpture called “Crawling Lady Hare” by Doug Hollis. The brochure says “We may expect art to show what is real – but who is to say our visions and dreams are not?” This artwork is part of the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail. But we were walking toward the Japanese Garden, so I’ll follow this trail another day.
The Japanese Garden was peaceful and lovely – such a soothing place. I could have stayed there a long time.
It was a very warm afternoon – 85 degrees (29 -1/2 C) but not humid. Everywhere I looked was another photograph begging to be taken – and I did – now it is hard to decide which ones I should show here. Ahead were many beautiful magnolias. By the way, the magnolia has about 210 species and it was named after French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715.) Pierre was born in Montpellier, a city in the south of France. His father was a pharmacist and his mother came from a family of physicians. Pierre enrolled at the old University of Montpellier (founded in 1289) where a botanic garden had been established in 1593 by King Henry IV of France. Magnol invented the concept of plant “families.” He wrote several treatises allowing rapid plant identification. Up to then it was believed that all species had arrived on earth by “divine creation.”
Our grandsons had run ahead toward the colorful pansy beds. I took their picture, then, a little girl stood in front of me and asked if I would take her photo, too. I was pleased to oblige. Her name was Katy – see her below.
These pansies were very small but so pretty. There were other flowers and flowering bushes too.
A couple of sphinxes were at the end of the pansies walkway.
Ahead were more varieties of magnolias. Some of their names were: Jon Jon, Ann May, Western Lily, Saucer, Elizabeth.
Some had great fragrances.
There were some inviting stairs, going… where? No, my knees would not make it back.
The grandsons had found a fountain and were studying its contents.
Further on there was an herb garden.
Upon entering the Visitor Center we were greeted by large indoor plants and a lovely sculpture of 3 children.
There was an Orchid Show in the adjoining hall and it was a lovely display.
In summer they also have “Live at Cheekwood Gardens.” Last July Joan Baez gave a concert there.
Joan Baez playing at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens on 29 July 2010
Postcard copyright Anderson Design Group