2011 Search for Excellence Demonstration Garden Award Winner- 1st Place

Grassmere Historic Gardens- Davidson County, Tennessee

Visitors attend a class at Grassmere Gardens taught by the Master Gardeners.

Grassmere Historic Garden is located within the property of the Nashville Zoo.   Because of this, Davidson County Master Gardeners are in a unique position to draw people to the garden who may not have made a special trip just to look at plants.

Informational Brochures online as well as at the garden

Master Gardeners had cared for the gardens for years, but a few years ago, with a new group of Master Gardener volunteers, we made a conscious decision to take the garden from just a collection of plants and turn it into an educational setting; a real teaching garden.  We began by installing informational signs for the rose and herb gardens, but since the vegetable garden is the centerpiece, we made moveable signs since our crops change with the seasons.  As we researched our plantings, we decided to develop informational booklets on the various gardens; we have them on the medicinal herb garden, the antique rose garden, and we are now working on the second edition of the vegetable booklet.  The zoo is in the process of redesigning their website, and we have requested a page of our own so that we may post our booklets online.

With so many visitors, the volunteers within the garden are constantly asked questions.   To be prepared, we send out regular emails to the team  and then meet to discuss in detail what we are doing and why.  We get CEU credit for this, and are better prepared to deal with visitors.   And of course, since we are a demonstration garden, we are always trying different methods, and visitors are always interested in that.

Vegetable Classes Respond to Huge Public Demand

A couple of years ago, we began offering Saturday classes for two months in the early spring.  Perhaps it’s because of the local food movement, or just concerns over knowing what we eat, but the requests we received directly and from our feedback forms led us this year to really emphasize growing vegetables.  We taught separate classes on cool season crops, what to start from seed indoors, and on individual crops: tomatoes, squash and melons, corn and beans, and potatoes.    The potato class happened at the time of the first planting of that crop, so that we were able to demonstrate two different methods of planting for the class that day.    The zoo advertised the classes for us, and every Saturday morning we would have our regulars, who came every week, as well as visitors who just happened to wander by and stay to hear what was going on.

Davidson County Master Gardeners harvest the produce from their vegetable garden.

Written by Susan Hiles, Davidson County Master Gardener

For information about Grassmere Gardens and the Nashville Zoo visit http://www.nashvillezoo.org/grassmere-historic-home

For more information about the Davidson County, TN Master Gardeners view their website at http://www.dcmg.org/