Skip to content

Great Garden Getaway



By Gay Lyons

What do one of Knoxville’s oldest houses, a research laboratory at the University of Tennessee and a former nursery business have in common? 

Crescent Bend House and Gardens, University of Tennessee Gardens and Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum are open to the public, and each is delightful in its own way.

Crescent Bend’s story began when the Drury Armstrong Paine family moved into the home in 1834. University of Tennessee Gardens is the flagship garden designated the State Botanical Gardens of Tennessee since 1983. The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is located on 47 acres of the former Howell Nurseries, a family-owned business from the late 1870s until 2002.

Their proximity makes it possible to take a tour of all three gardens in a couple of hours. You can linger much longer, of course, and we hope you will, but if you’ve not visited these gardens before, it’s not a bad idea to take a quick tour and see what each has to offer. 

We think you’ll find plenty of reasons to return to each of them for walks, picnics, family field trips, gardening tips, sunsets—really, any excuse you can come up with to come back to these special, distinctively Knoxville gardens.

So, hop aboard and join us on the Great Garden Getaway.

Crescent Bend House and Gardens 

During the Civil War, the house, located at 2728 Kingston Pike, was used by both Union and Confederate armies as a command center and hospital. Crescent Bend is also noteworthy for possibly being a safe house on the Underground Railroad. 

Its three-acre formal Italian garden, which includes nine terraces and five fountains that overlook the majestic crescent bend of the Tennessee River, was completed in 1982. Crescent Bend House and Gardens hosts many events, especially weddings.

From March 21-April 18, you can visit the 17th annual Tulip Time at Crescent Bend, featuring over 25,000 tulips. Seasonal plantings and manicured lawns and hedges add to the overall effect. 

Be sure to step inside. The Armstrong-Lockett House Museum at Crescent Bend contains an extensive collection of fine antique art and furniture as well as an outstanding American and English silver collection dating back to the 16th century.

University of Tennessee Gardens 

Initiated in 1983, this 10-acre garden at 2518 Jacob Drive, off Neyland Drive, serves as a living laboratory for teaching, research and demonstration. Awash in color during the growing season, the gardens test new varieties of plants including annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, roses and vegetables. 

Because the garden is located in the mid-south where gardening and landscaping can be challenging, the test gardens are important proving grounds in determining what plants reach the commercial market. Visitors can see what plants thrive and flourish here, get ideas on garden design and learn how to use plants in their own landscapes and gardens.

Specialty gardens include the Beall Family Rose Garden, Tranquility Hosta Garden, Children’s Garden, Rock Garden and Kitchen Garden. Educational programming includes summer camps and year-round classes for children and workshops and events for adults. It’s also a popular event venue.


Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

Located on 47 acres of the former Howell Nurseries, the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, located at 2743 Wimpole Avenue, features walking trails, display gardens, unique and historic horticulture and over two miles of distinctive stone walls and timeless buildings. 

Special gardens include the Martha H. Ashe Garden, Row Garden, Paulk Peony Garden and the Knoxville Garden Club’s Danae Garden. The new Dogwood Center is a popular venue for indoor events. 

The Secret Garden, opened in 2016, commemorates two women: Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), author of the “The Secret Garden,” and Andie Ray (1967-2015), who was inspired by the author and named her popular boutique on Market Square Vagabondia after Burnett’s novel of the same name. After Andie’s death, her parents Rich and Jane Ray initiated this special space in her memory.

 

More Stories

  • Cocktails for a Cause

    Casey Fox, Jesse Mayshark and Amanda Mohney, the team behind Libacious Cocktail Catering, are on a mission. “We want people who organize fundraisers to think about what they can do to provide a richer experience,” said Jesse. Read More
  • Grant Boyd

    Doing the right thing has always been a way of life for Grant Boyd. As Senior Vice President for The Trust Company of Tennessee, it comes through naturally in his everyday work with his clients. “The Trust Company of Tennessee is a family of financial advisors who have a common goal of doing the right thing, showing respect for others and consciously following through with promises made,” Boyd said. Read More
  • Gem Hospitality Celebrates 10th Anniversary

    GEM Hospitality, formerly Glass Entertainment Management, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a new logo and company name and a redesigned website. GEM Hospitality offers corporate hospitality, incentive trips and unforgettable experiences to the world’s greatest sporting and entertainment events. Read More
  • Editor's Letter

    Megan Venable and Liz Lyons, two members of the VIP Knoxville event coverage team, recently texted me a selfie proclaiming “Wearing our uniform!” I fired right back with a photo: “Wearing mine, too!” Read More