Cheekwood BG is an estate garden and was originally owned by Leslie and Mable Cheek. The couple moved into the house in 1933, which closely resembles English houses of the 18th century. The estate was deeded to the Cheek’s daughter, Huldah Cheek Sharp, in 1943, where she lived with her husband, Walter Sharp, until the 1950s. At that time they offered it up to become a botanical garden and art museum. The estate officially opened as a public garden in 1960.
Within the fifty-five acre garden, there are several themed-gardens — a color garden, an herb garden, a wildflower garden, a Japanese garden, and many more. Guest are also invited into the house, which displays the current art collection.
The large home is a picture of formal at it’s finest, yet the gardens are a contrast of informal. While some of the plant material would be found in formal garden landscapes, such as boxwoods, they are used in a typical natural area.
Favorite garden: The Color Garden
Next time you are in the Nashville area, take a few minutes and stroll through Cheekwood. Cheekwood Website
Although us seven new students just started at Auburn in May, we wasted no time getting right into the thick of the public gardens industry. One of the first things new students in our program do is attend the American Public Gardens Association conference, or APGA. This conference, if you have never heard of it, is where public garden professionals from every aspect of the industry get together in a designated city for a week of learning, sharing, and networking. It provides us, as graduate students seeking future internship/employment opportunities, a great gateway into this wonderful industry.
So far our experiences can only be described as fantastic! We have had the opportunity to meet with executive directors, education coordinators, marketing directors, horticulturists, etc. of gardens across the nation, and even some international gardens. From education to marketing, conservation to development, there are tons of networking opportunities for all areas relating to public gardens.
Not only do we meet people from all of these facets of public horticulture, but we get to listen to them share their expertise and experiences at a variety of sessions ranging in topics from leading organizational change, to art in the gardens. There are also professional development workshops, more geared toward specific sectors of public gardens, if you have a specific interest in mind.
After an informative first day at the conference, the takeaway message I received was to continue to advocate. Advocate for not only yourself, or your garden of employment, but for the industry as a whole. It is a surprisingly tight knit circle for such an all encompassing industry, and people genuinely want one another to succeed. Success for one garden means success for all of them, because it gets the word out about the importance of things like the healing aspects of nature, getting children involved in learning where their food comes from, or conserving endangered species of native plants. All of these topics fall under the umbrella of public horticulture, and that is what is so appealing to me about this industry. No two gardens are alike, and the more diverse, out of the box thinking we can foster, the more likely we all are to succeed.
So as our cohort continues this week to soak in all of the information we can, I hope that you will all take a moment (or several moments) to think about the importance of public gardens in our communities. Providing jobs, increasing pride, and beautification are just a few things they can do to make our communities a better place, and we can not wait to learn how we can help in that inspiring task.
Welcome to the new Auburn Public Horticulture Graduate Student Blog!
This blog will be used to transcribe all of the awesome things that we as graduate students get to do here at Auburn and around the country. You can expect to see blog posts on a weekly basis written by the numerous students in the program. For the first post of every month, one of the students will highlight a public garden that they have been to in the US or other countries. So if you are really interested in public gardens, tune in for some really good info about some really cool gardens. We will also be writing “personal profile” posts to help you get to know us a little better.
Who are we?
We are all graduate students at Auburn University focusing on Public Horticulture. We hail from many different places including Texas, Florida, Connecticut, Mississippi, Alabama, and China! We are all united together by our passion for plants and people! There are seven newbies (myself included) pictured below that have just started the program this summer. There are also several students from the past two years that have paved the way for us just as we will do for the next group of students next summer.
What do we do?
We are all graduate students working on an M.S degree in Horticulture and we will all take the same core classes that give us a Certificate in Public Horticulture. Each of us will also have our own specialized research projects and graduate assistantships.
Where are we?
We are located in the wonderful city of Auburn right on the East coast of Alabama. We have the privilege of straddling the Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone which can make traveling either a joy or a pain depending on which way you go.
Please join us in our many horticultural adventures by following us and leaving comments for us!