Last week I traveled to Nashville, TN, to take part in the yearly Garden Center Group Fall Event. I was so thrilled that I went. This is a group of Independent Garden Center owners that share information and ideas with each other. At first, I was not sure about going since, as everyone knows, we no longer have a garden center. But I think it was good that I was able to interact with old friends and say goodbye while meeting new friends and so many young people just starting out with their garden centers.
One of the highlights of the trip each year is when we all load up on buses and visit local garden centers and famous places. The first stop was the Gardens of Babylon which is located in downtown Nashville at a farmers’ market. This urban garden center and landscape company specializes in natural products and services. Their mission is simple, to improve the lives of everyone in the community by connecting them to the natural world with a focus on bringing a chemical free resource to the Nashville community.
Our second stop was a more traditional garden center, Moore and Moore Garden Center, which first opened for business in 1980. Their selection of perennials, along with houseplants was great with a complete range of flowers, shrubs and trees along with all the supplies one would need. Moore & Moore is recognized for “Cultivating Lifestyles” through their displays and creative use of space. I wonder if, when you are traveling, do you ever stop in at local garden centers? I hope so if you have time. Especially if you are in your car so you can bring home a treasure or two. After leaving, we were off to see two more places, The Parthenon and Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.
The Nashville Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition to highlight the idea that Athens isn’t the only city with a classical stone temple dedicated to the arts. Nashville’s Parthenon confirms the city’s place as the “Athens of the South.”
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens was beautiful. With the pumpkins greeting us as we drove up the long driveway, I was caught up just trying to see everything as the bus kept moving. I already knew I was going to tour the estate with a guide, since I love seeing inside these stately homes and just wondering how people lived back in the day. This home–while not as old as some–was built in 1929, right at the beginning of the Great Depression.
The family kept many hundreds of people employed during this time. Once we finished seeing the home, it was off to the gardens. The sad thing when on a bus tour is there is never enough time to see everything, and looking at their website I see that I missed many of their gardens; however, the ones I did see were so impressive. The picture above is of the most beautiful urn I saw outside the back of the estate. It was almost as tall as me! One thing not to miss if you are lucky enough to visit, is the train garden. This fabulous structure had trains going every which way and includes so many plants surrounding it. It is down a wooded pathway, so make sure you do not miss it.
I wish I had more time to tell you about all the other places I saw while in Nashville, but I will leave you with one thing. While doing the backstage tour at the Ryman Auditorium, I was able to stand up on the stage where so many talented people before me performed. I don’t think I will make it big in country music even though I love it.
Behnke Nurseries, VP