The Nashville Unit maintains two wonderful gardens…
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Both of our gardens, Cheekwood Garden and Centennial Garden, are popular venues for weddings and special events and maintained by volunteers who are members of the Herb Society of Nashville. Our volunteers work at the Herb Study Garden at Cheekwood on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with an occasional Saturday or evening shift as needed; they typically work at Centennial on Wednesday mornings. We are assisted by the staff at Cheekwood who consults with us on the Herb Study Garden, and enlist assistance with the maintenance of our fountain and heavier tasks.
Our members are required to work two 2-hour shifts per year in the garden at Cheekwood and one 2-hour shift at the Centennial garden. The number of volunteer hours recorded for the Herb Study Garden at Cheekwood has been recorded at over 600 hours per year; at Centennial, over 300 hours.
Once a year in the spring we have a very successful herb and plant sale to raise money for the care and maintenance of our two herb gardens. In addition to the sale of many variety of herbs, we sell member-grown plants, heirloom vegetables, and a small number of highly desired annuals and perennials. Members are expected to be well-versed on the needs and uses of the plants they sell; our most knowledgeable members provide expert consultation. The sale is held at the Nashville Fairgrounds and is open to the public.
Herb Day, held in Autumn at Cheekwood, is a long-standing community outreach program that we offer. Speakers are brought in to share their expertise in areas related to the use and enjoyment of herbs. Vendors offer an assortment of crafts, garden-related items and gifts. Attendees enjoy a box lunch and a tour of our herb garden. Additionally, we offer an assortment of Walk and Talk tours in the Cheekwood garden, covering topics such as 'Herbs With A Deadly Twist', 'The Herb Industry of The Shakers, and 'Herbs With Animal Names' for children. Under the tutelage of our Education Committee, members are encouraged to create their own Walk and Talk tour based on their expertise and interest. Our membership has expressed interest in more community outreach directed toward children. Thus, in the fall of 2015, a hands-on program for children will be held in the Herb Study Garden at Cheekwood, and plans are underway for traveling demonstration.
Centennial Garden – Summer 2015
In 1977, a contest open to all Herb Society members was held for the original garden concept. Waneta Strickert’s design was selected by two members of the Metro Park Commission. Within twelve months, the center portion of the garden was planted and was dedicated on Memorial Day weekend of 1977. It was redesigned by Holly Shimizu and planted in 1998. The garden area is adjacent to what was once a community swimming pool and surrounds the wading pool, which is now a pond near the art center. Throughout the past decade many changes have been made. An herb of the month has been selected by the garden chair along with the featured herb of the year. Today it is a beautiful, quiet refuge in the middle of a busy urban public park.
Cheekwood Garden – Summer 2015
The installation of this Herb Study Garden first began in 1982 with money from Herb Society of Nashville and a design by James Coile, a locally renown landscape architect. It was expanded and redesigned in 2000–01 with the guidance of landscape designers Holly Shimizu and Osamu Shimizu of Washington, DC and landscape architect Stephen Wells of Nashville. The design features segments of the magnificent Ionic columns from the Tennessee State Capitol, an arbor that has been replaced and redesigned in 2015, and the addition of a water feature.
Herb Study Garden Design
The Herb Study Garden at Cheekwood is devoted to the study and evaluation of herbal plants to determine those that can be successfully grown in middle Tennessee. Through maintaining and displaying our study garden, our society carries out our mission of promoting the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research and sharing the experience of its members with the community. Architectural features include: limestone relics of columns that were once a part of the state capitol (on loan to Cheekwood from the state), fountain, and arbor. We also have a pretty little garden shed nestled in the wooded area where we store all our tools and soil enhancements.
The plan includes twelve different areas, each with distinctive features, including: Culinary; Blue & Silver; Display; Texture & Fragrance; Native American; Colonial America; Relic; Upper Shade; Middle Shade; Shed Shade; Trellis & Potted; Backside; Z Wall; and Pond/Fountain.
The growing zone for our area is considered 6b. The original soil consisted of heavy clay which over time has been either amended or removed and replaced with garden soil.