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Abandoned / Forgotten Gardens in Tennessee

Posted by brandon7 7 TN (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 19, 12 at 21:16

I wonder if anyone knows of any former public gardens or special (once noteworthy) gardens, that are now forgotten or overlooked (or have been significantly transformed).

One example that I've run into quite a few times is the Alfred Fanton (A.F.) Sanford Arboretum over in the Boxwood Square/Lake View Drive area of west Knoxville. In the 1930's this was a 20 acre arboretum with 2,500 species! Today, only a few mostly unnoticed unusual trees in various people's yards remain.

Another example, although recently brought back to everyone's attention, is the Howell nursery in east Knoxville. This garden's history goes back into the 1700's (before Tennessee was Tennessee). Now the Knoxville Botanical Garden occupies part of the site. There are some very unusual (at least to this area) trees on the site.

Finally, I can think of at least two once well-known hybridizers/collectors from the Knoxville area that left a substantial amount of plant material that may soon be lost. Harold Elmore left a considerable collection of hollies to the UT Arboretum, but I'm not sure what will happen with his private collection. Some members of his family are taking care of it for now, from what I hear. Another similar plantsman, Dr. Frank B. Galyon, left us with new plants of all types from magnolias ('24 below' and many others) to daffodils ('Millie Galyon', etc). I know that some of his magnolias are at the UT Arboretum, but I don't know if many records of his work there are left or if his work is preserved anywhere else. Does anyone know anything more about these two guy's gardens or other hybridizer's/collector's gardens that are no longer around or in jeopardy?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Abandoned / Forgotten Gardens in Tennessee

A couple years ago I was able to visit Dr. Galyons former home. The new owners weren't home at the time but we had permission. The magnolias were in bloom. Everything was pretty overgrown and crowded. The new owners apparently like the place and plan no changes. I was surprised at the size of the lot, quite small. There is a huge needle palm at the driveway entrance and the next property has a respectable (for TN) Quercus henryi.


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RE: Abandoned / Forgotten Gardens in Tennessee

Brandon, thanks for this post. It's very intriguing. I'm not from here originally, and haven't heard of any such gardens or botanical areas (with the exception of the Howell Nursery, from my readings about the Knoxville Botanical Garden) but hopefully if others have they will respond. Are the hollies and magnolias (that you mentioned) at the UT Arboretum being moved or in danger of being taken out? It almost seems like there needs to be an "official" list of such gardens (sort of like what is done with the endangered buildings of historical significance). Hopefully, others will post.


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RE: Abandoned / Forgotten Gardens in Tennessee

The Elmore Holly Collection (the collection at the UT Arboretum) is being well maintained - probably even better than most arboretum holly collections. Fairly good record-keeping involving this collection has been ongoing, and the collection has been slowly growing (more additions).

The last time I heard discussion about Dr. Galyon's collection at the arboretum, many (and probably most) of the records had been lost. Some signage (for what was known) has been redone, not long ago, but many trees are unknowns and not marked. There was thoughts that some of the records might have been archived...somewhere...maybe, but I don't have high hopes that they will be found. Since the last time I was in a discussion about that collection, the arboretum has gotten a new director. I don't know if he has made any effort to find the records or if there's even much of a chance of finding anything now.
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I think it was the summer before last when I last drove through the former site of the Sanford Arboretum. I was driving, so couldn't spend too much time looking at all the trees to see if they might have been originally part of the arboretum. Also, I felt a little weird stopping and staring at people's yards, without explanation. I did see a few trees that looked like good candidates, but probably missed many more.

I don't know if anyone has seriously looked at (or surveyed) this site in more recent years. I bet most people (even the ones that live around there) don't even know about it.


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RE: Abandoned / Forgotten Gardens in Tennessee

I know of none, but I wonder if there are some revered old gardens along the earliest Dogwood Arts Trails when the beautification project began.


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RE: Abandoned / Forgotten Gardens in Tennessee

The really terrible freeze in the mid 1980's when temps went down to -27F for three nights and never got anywhere near 32F did a horrible thing to many, many plants that were growing well here. I have talked about it being a sieve effect that simply removed many plants that people had come to appreciate. Talking to people who gardened through it also led me to understand why many chose not to replant certain groups of plants.

Visiting Camellia Forest over near Chapel Hill NC, they had the same bad spell of weather only theirs was about 15 F degrees warmer.

The other sieve event was in the late 1890's when to the south of us, Mobile Bay got so cold that it froze over in its northern part.

I expect there are other kill offs, but those are the two that I've found that I think really affected what plants we may have had and can no longer find.


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