Are you a naturalist at heart – a lover of all growing things?
Do you have an adventurous spirit – with an attraction to exploring places that are “off the beaten path”?
If you’re planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountain region in Tennessee, you’re in luck! Not only are these ancient mountains beautiful and full of history, but there are several amazing garden destinations hidden away here, too. They are just waiting to be discovered by an adventurous phytophile like you!
There are lots of things to do in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, but the crowds and fast-paced tourist destination energy can become tiring. Sneak away for a day and explore one of more of the following best gardens, and we know you’ll feel refreshed.
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is a beautiful, 47-acre public garden located just a few minutes outside of the bustling city of Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s open 365 days per year, as the temperate mountain climate allows for plants to grow all year round.
When visiting this garden, you will be pleased to find a wide array of installations to enjoy, including display gardens, historical buildings, and extensive walking trails. They feature unique horticulture, native to the area, and also offer events throughout the year – including volunteer days, luncheons, and even cocktail hour in the garden!
Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens
The Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens is yet another treasure nestled off-the-beaten-path in northeastern Unicoi, Tennessee. It is the passion project of wildlife artist Johnny Lynch and his family.
This special garden, located on a lovingly restored 75-acre pre-Civil War farm, is a haven for wildlife. When you visit, you’ll experience the joy and freedom of wild birds, peacocks, and butterflies at every turn! You’ll also enjoy the tranquil sound of rushing water when exploring the property, as multiple beautiful water gardens are installed throughout.
Ardinna Woods Arboretum and Butterfly Garden
Ardinna Woods Arboretum and Butterfly Garden is a hidden gem located downtown in the historic city of Jonesborough, Tennessee. One of the prime offerings of this Arboretum are the two collections of more than seventy tree species native to the Southern Appalachian region.
Named after the Celtic goddess, Ardinna, protector of forests and the hunt, this beautiful garden is not to be missed. And, if you are visiting with your family (including small children) in the spring or summer, be sure to visit their Butterfly Garden as well! There’s nothing so joyful as feeling the light landing of a butterfly on your shoulder – and these experiences offer great opportunity to teach kids the value of conserving nature, as well.
Dixon Gallery & Gardens
If your travels to the Smoky Mountains take you through Memphis, Tennessee, stop at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, a unique institution in the heart of Memphis, offering a curated art exhibition as well as sculpted outdoor gardens.
Founded by The Dixon family, well-known philanthropists and community leaders in Memphis, the Dixon Gardens were designed to reflect traditional English gardens. The pathways link together, leading you through the thickly-treed forest canopy, revealing only one portion of the garden at a time. It’s a wonderful place to go and lose yourself in the beauty of nature – while still in the center of a culturally-rich city full of music.
The Great Smoky Mountains region is full of enriching experiences that nourish the soul and inspire the mind. And, as you can see, there’s much to see for a naturalist, gardener, or phytophile of any age.
Enjoy your travels – and always remember, when you’re ready for an adventure, make sure to head off of the beaten path.
Featured image-Smoky Mountains / Pixabay