Saturday, March 4, 2023

Orchids in Nashville, Tennessee

Lately I have been reading articles listing the advantages of walking. The health benefits are plentiful. With my monthly commutes between Nashville and Atlanta and the constant clearing of the two houses I have not been very active outdoors. Even though I live in a "walking area" of Nashville, the sidewalk is narrow and uneven. I have to constantly look at the ground to make sure I don't stumble. In addition many automobiles pass by and I am not keen to breathe motor exhaust pollution. Thinking of nicer surroundings for walking I remembered that when our younger daughter and family moved to Tennessee they took us to visit the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. I looked them up and realized that Cheekwood is only 6 miles from my house or a short drive away. On February 10, 2023, I visited the gardens and became a member.
This is what Cheekwood says about their gardens: "Explore our Gardens - Cheekwood offers year-round beauty on an historic property with 55 acres of awe-inspiring gardens, expansive vistas and art. Visitors enjoy programming for all ages, exhibitions, family activities, and year-round festivals celebrating the four seasons. Within its thirteen distinct gardens and woodland sculpture trail, a wide variety of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and trees combine with rotating seasonal displays to provide a place for reflection and inspiration." Of course being early February there were few flowers to admire. At a distance I saw a tree with what I thought were some blossoms. It was a Pussy Willow tree (salix caprea) and its catkins (long, thin cluster of tiny, petalles flowers growing on some trees) were shining in the sun.
Next to it was a redbud tree already showing rosy pink blossoms. On the ground, some hellebores brought color among the fallen leaves.
Walking further on I saw a sign advertizing "Orchids in the Mansion."
I walked up the hill to the historic mansion to have a look. As you entered the mansion, the railing of the grand staircase in the foyer leading to the second floor was decorated with orchids.
White orchids were arranged in a bowl in a center table.
The 1930's Georgian-style mansion contains several rooms that have been restored with authentic furnishings. I'll visit them more thoroughly at a later date. This time my focus was directed to the orchids. Some of the historic rooms contained orchid arrangements.
The orchids were mostly exhibited in what they called the "loggia." But since it was enclosed in the second floor I would call it a classical "orangery," a tropical and tall conservatory place. As you entered you were totally surrounded by orchids... you were immersed in clouds of white and purple.
It was a harmony of orchids dripping down the ceiling,
climbing the walls,
resting on the ground, at eye level and everywhere in between... blooming orchids all around.
The predominantly white orchids were framed with tropical plants offering a diversity of texture to the arrangements.
But there were other shades of the Phalaenopsis or Moth orchids such as pink, light purple, yellow and striped coral or mixed with deep purple.
Leaving the gardens I recognized some star magnolias. Unfortunately they were framed with dark cryptomeria trees that did not look healthy - very brown and dead looking. There are many brown shrubs and trees all around Nashville now because of this past harsh dry and hot summer followed by unusually freezing days this winter.
After going back to Georgia for a couple of weeks I came back to Nashville this last week. Last Tuesday February 28, 2023, was very warm and sunny. It was close to 80 F (26.6 C) - a record breaker for Nashville, when in the west and north of the US they had and still have feet of snow and ice (although that is not good to have such warm weather as it is usually followed with storms and tornadoes; like yesterday, I lost power from early afternoon until this morning.) I went to have a last glimpse of the orchid exhibit before it closes tomorrow. The warm weather had made a difference in the gardens - it was a riot of spring flowers and trees in bloom everywhere. I went to the exhibit first and walked through the gallery to a couple more of the historic rooms.
The orchids were still looking very fresh. I had brought another Nikon camera and took more photos. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
On the grounds below the mansion, fragrant blue hyacinths were at the base of pink saucer magnolia trees.
Walking slowly toward the exit I encountered narcissus, flowering quinces, pink hyacinths and more pink magnolia trees in bloom. It was hard to believe we were in February and not already into spring.
Here and there were pockets of daffodils. I understand that 100,000 more daffodil bulbs were planted last fall. They should be in full bloom soon.
But already there was a small field of daffodils around the transparent, open stainless steel body sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa (born in 1955.) It is called Silent Music II, maybe as a nod to Nashville, the "Music City."
Driving out of the gardens I passed by the sign announcing the upcoming "Cheekwood in Blooms" from March to April. I'll come back with my cameras and take more photos of lovely flowers. Now it was time to renew and refresh myself with a small meal at an old-fashioned lunch spot.
Below is one last orchid, Orchid and Hummingbird, by Martin Johnson Head - American, 1819-1904.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. I could almost smell all the flowers. I’ll have to visit the botanical gardens during my next visit!

DJan said...

So very beautiful. It is an amazing array of orchids and other flowers still to come. I look forward to seeing more in future posts. Bravo!

Cloudia said...

So beautiful! Walk among the flowers

Hels said...

There are many beautifully shaped or coloured flowers, but they tended to go in and out of favour over the decades. However orchids have mesmerised us for a VERY long time.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Besutiful place to walk!

Linda P said...

I'm glad you have found somewhere pleasant and safe where you can take a walk. The Cheekwood Botanical Garden looks a beautiful place to visit. The photos you took of the orchid displays in the mansion are stunning. I remember a visit to the Eric Young Orchid Foundation in the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands and seeing beautiful displays. The foundation has won awards for growing orchids especially exhibits displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. You may be able to see a Youtube video of them. I look forward to seeing more of your photos of orchids when you return to the botanical gardens.

Jeanie said...

Well, these are all lovely. And I think it was such a smart idea to join the gardens. I know it's lovely here having the campus close at hand, so easy for nice walks with decent pathways. I suspect the garden has all that and more -- beautiful blooms of one kind or another, almost year round!

Glenda Beall said...

What a treat! seeing all those orchids and all the other flowers. I think I need to take a trip to one of our gardens and feast on those beautiful flowers. Thanks for taking me with you and I look forward to another of your visits to this garden.

Marja said...

Oh I love walking I walk at least 3 times a week. I also take heaps of photos on my walk. That garden and house you went to looks fantastic I love gardens. The orchids are beautiful and nice to see these spring flowers. We started on autumn again.

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, We have been to Cheekwood and it is just a lovely place with the grounds being definitely over the top. Our son and his family lived in nearby Brentwood for a short time and we'd heard about Cheekwood and wanted to visit. When we were in town one time, Cheekwood had a huge Chiluly art glass exhibit going on so with that extra attraction we toured the grounds and the home. Very nice indeed! As for blueberry pancakes, I love them but my better half just doesn't care for pancakes. Walking...I do as much as a I can but my Afib sure slows me down. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Mae Travels said...

What a great place you found! Jaume Plensa the Spanish artist keeps turning up as I wander. A very large sculpture of his is installed in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art near where I live, and some very interesting water sculptures were (are?) in Chicago the last time I was there. Enjoy these gardens!

best... mae at

David M. Gascoigne, said...

It is going to be a while before we see orchids here. The ground is still covered by a blanket of snow, but the daily temperature now generally nudges zero or a little above, and it is slowly melting, especially when there is strong sun. The cardinals are singing in the treetops and several migrants have returned, so Spring is on its way. The moisture from the melting snow will be great for the soil. Bon dimanche. David

Nadezda said...

I enjoyed watching and reading your story about this amazing orchid show and the park, Vagabonde. Good thing it's close to your home in Nashville. I also used to be fond of breeding and growing Phalaenopsis orchids. They are very responsive to care and attention. I like how the colors of the plants are chosen, they decorate the whole mansion.
Your magnolias are already in bloom, wow! My magnolia is not tall and is now completely covered in snow. But in May it blooms with beautiful pink flowers.
All the best!

Lowcarb team member said...

Such a beautiful place to walk, lovely photographs.

All the best Jan

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