The Gardens

Formal Gardens

Throughout history, designed gardens have been a source of pleasure and delight as well as a way of establishing order in nature. Formal gardens are usually organized along a central axis with borders and pathways to define space. They are known for symmetry, repeated plant palettes, and structural focal elements such as fountains, planters, and art. Formal gardens within botanical gardens are also a way of maintaining and displaying horticultural collections.


This area has been named the Lowlands because it is geographically the lowest part of our entire 96 acres. Water runs downhill throughout the Garden and collects here in pools, streams, and ponds. We shape the beds to catch the water as it travels, using it to nurture our vegetable and ornamental crops. Water always means life, making this the best spot in the Garden for viewing natural wildlife—birds, butterflies, frogs and fish—or finding signs of mammals such as squirrels, raccoons and possums. Relax here, take a breath, and enjoy the sounds of nature in two of our most diverse and bountiful gardens.

Japanese Garden

Japanese gardens are designed to celebrate the beauty and wonder of nature and nurture your spirit as well as your senses. Rocks, water, and other elements are thoughtfully arranged to capture the essence of the greater natural world. Plants are selected not to provide a multitude of color with flowers but to embrace seasonal changes with bursts of color in the spring and fall and soothing shades of green in the summer. The greater focus is on form and texture that can be appreciated throughout the year.

My Big Backyard

Welcome to My Big Backyard! This family garden is a place for jumping, splashing, digging, creating, daydreaming, discovering, and simply enjoying time spent outdoors. Sixteen different themed areas provide opportunities for playing in nature. A special thanks to The Little Garden Club of Memphis for being instrumental in creating and supporting My Big Backyard.

Shade Gardens

Shade gardens provide a welcome oasis in the South but can be a challenge to design. You can have colorful blooming plants in a shade garden, but most of them (ephemeral wildflowers, azaleas, dogwoods) flower in early spring before leaves have developed fully on the tree canopy. Certain hydrangeas are the exception, flowering May through July. Summer color can be accomplished with impatiens and begonias as well as the colorful foliage of coleus and caladiums. Most of the beauty of a shade garden in summer, however, comes from subtle contrasting textures like the frilly fronds of a fern next to the smooth surface of a hosta leaf. You can view these plants and more in our extensive collection of shade gardens.

Urban Home Garden

This area of the Garden serves as a resource for home gardeners, showing best gardening practices—the tried and true as well as some that are cutting edge. The emphasis is on addressing the particular challenges of creating a productive, inviting landscape in an urban environment.

The Woodland

The Woodland is a representation of a temperate deciduous forest biome, specifically an Oak-Hickory forest, found across the Eastern United States. This forest type contains an array of different species, outside of oak and hickory; our four-acre area alone hosts an abundance of dogwood, cherry, boxelder, sassafras, persimmon, ash, and pawpaw. Growing underneath you’ll find jewelweed, mayapple, and ferns accented by the spring bloom of phlox, trillium, bluebells, and other ephemeral wildflowers.