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The Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle

The Sunny Bank I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit this garden because I've heard so much about it. It did not disappoint. The garden was created by Elisabeth Carey Miller and her husband Pendleton who purchased the house in 1948. Mrs. Miller was a self-taught gardener who used her artistic skills (she majored in Art History) to create the stunning garden which features a dense canopy of native conifers. She became a plant collector and tracked down unusual specimens and was known as a well-respected plantswoman in the horticultural community. The front entrance Visiting this garden is not exactly easy. It is situated in a restricted community and there is a limit to the number of visitors per year. You must make an appointment on the website at designated times or you can find a tour group like I did. The address isn't listed either although even if you had it, you would have to get past the security guard at the gate to the neighborhood. I think if I lived in

A visit to Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville

We recently visited the Cheekwood Home and Gardens in Nashville. This was my second time there (I toured it a few years ago with the Master Gardeners). Although we missed the tulip display, which I heard was spectacular, the gardens have a lot to offer. It is worth a trip if you are in the area.

The name "Cheekwood" derives from a combination of the names of the husband and wife who built it - Leslie Cheek and Mabel Wood. The Cheeks were an entrepreneurial family - Leslie's father was a wholesale grocer and his cousin developed Maxwell House coffee. The Cheeks were investors and in 1928, General Foods purchased the Maxwell House brand for $40 million. 

The Cheeks purchased 100 acres in West Nashville to build a country estate. They hired New York architect Bryant Fleming to design both the house and gardens. The home and grounds were inspired by great English homes of the 18th century and the project was completed in 1932.  Leslie Cheek died two years later after moving in and his wife lived there for another eight years before deeding it to her daughter Huldah Cheek Sharp. The Sharps lived there until the 1950s when it was turned into an art museum and botanical garden.

The house/museum is interesting (my favorite display is Mrs. Cheek's snuff bottle collection). There is presently a bamboo art collection that is quite awesome. But, on to my favorite part, the gardens!

The gated entrance sits beneath a massive oak tree -


We were too late for the tulip display - I can just imagine the sea of color along this walkway and at the entrance to the Visitor's Center - 

A beautiful young dogwood just inside the entrance -


And farther into the gardens, we came upon this lovely double-flowered dogwood variety "Plena" which I don't see that often -


A dramatic hedge of Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrophepalum) - 

Next to the house is a boxwood garden and a stone grotto and water feature -


A woodland garden with native plants and azaleas -


A thatched-roof cottage -


A terraced garden -  


A woodland garden with Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia), Japanese maples, boxwood and ferns -



A portion of the Herb Garden - 


More Japanese Maples and garden art -


It was a beautiful day to see a garden. For more information on Cheekwood, visit their website.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Happy to hear you enjoyed your visit to Cheekwood, Phillip!

    Wish you'd let me know that you were going to be in my neck of the woods...

    (PS - Yes, the Tulip display was spectacular. I think they claimed 100,000 bulbs this year, but I didn't try to verify that fact.)

  2. It's been some time since we've visited Cheekwood, but fond memories were rekindled by your post! Larry

  3. Makes me want to go even more. Its on my list of things to do. I also wanted to see the tulips this year but sure something else will be nice to see later on. Great photos.

  4. When the Sharps moved from Cheekwood, they bought land in northern Williamson county. There they built a very modern house and left the landscape natural--the total opposite of Cheekwood. In later years, Mrs. Sharp gave this land to Cheekwood except for her house and a few acres. The property is now operated independently as a nature center, Owl's Hill. Each are beautiful in their own way, but I have always loved Cheekwood.

  5. A place where everyone loves to visit, even day by day! I once visit the Cheekwood gardens when my sister moves in Nashville and the beautiful memories of being here is one of the best! The tulip border and the thatched cottage are one of the corners I attract with! Exquisite!

    Sebastian of
    Tropical Life Style

  6. Cheekwood is special to me. I was sent to Nashville for a conference at about the same time I was contemplating a career change. I hated the conference and on the second day played hooky and went to Cheekwood, and the visit pushed me closer to starting a new life.


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