It’s springtime in East Tennessee and all the flowering trees are in full bloom! This is my favorite time of year to take the kids on a garden tour. Though we love exploring the gardens year-round, there is truly something magical about a flowering garden in the springtime. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids out in nature. These are also some of my favorite spots to snap some spring photos of our family. Here are my favorite gardens to explore in Knoxville including a hidden gem only open to the public one a year in April!
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
2743 Wimpole Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37914
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is a 47-acre, public garden, which is free to the public, in East Knoxville. The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk. There is a visitor center that is open from 9am-5pm Monday – Friday. There is parking right off Wimpole Avenue, where you can easily access the Joe Howell Residence (visitor center). There are beautiful stone structures, terraces, and gardens around the residence including a Paulk Peony Garden (expect blooms in May), Joe Howell Residence Garden, Row Garden, and Martha H. Ashe Garden with azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds, and hydrangeas (expect blooms in April and May), and the Stone Greenhouse with a magnificent wall of ivy.
Across the street are more extensive walking trails, gardens, and forests including the Dogwood Nature Trail, Secret Garden, and the former site of the the CB Howell Nursery, which includes the Eco Garden, Family Garden, Terrace Garden, and World Garden. The Eco Garden is also known as the “Every Child Outdoors” Garden and there are regular events hosted here as a part of this program.
2518 Jacob Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996
UT Gardens are located along Neyland Drive. They are also free to the public and open daily from dawn to dusk. UT Gardens is a great place to head with little ones because of it’s size and accessibility. They have a Children’s Garden, which the girls love with a little playhouse, things to climb on, and space to run around.
We also love the Beall Family Rose Garden (blooms in April and throughout the season) with its small koi pond water feature, the arboretum walk, and the several themed gardens along Neyland (one of which has a rustic truck, which makes for a fun photo op). There are so many various flowering plants and trees to enjoy. There are also Yoshino cherry trees, which bloom in late March.
They also host events including Friday Fun Days on select Fridays in April and May, which are designed for kids aged 3-5 to explore the gardens.
3901 Sam Cooper Ln, Knoxville, TN 37918
Baxter Gardens in Fountain City is actually a private residence, but its open to the public annually for the entire month of April in conjunction with the Dogwood Arts Festival. So basically its Knoxville’s hidden gem! There are over 32 acres and 9 gardens to explore here located on Black Oak Ridge. The gardens remind me of Biltmore or Versailles, especially the Maze, Ellipse Garden, and Balustrade (must stop here for the gorgeous, labeled mountain views).
My favorite part of the gardens is Azalea garden. It is stunning and worth a trip just to see the shaded hillside covered in white, purple, and pink blooms. It’s also right off the parking area, so its easy to see if you can’t walk the whole grounds. The Dogwood Ramble is another favorite especially with it’s extensive beds of phlox.
There are several other private gardens that open to the public as part of the Dogwood Arts Festival. These are on rotation every year as featured gardens with a suggested $5 donation.