By Rachel Bertone
Overflowing with gorgeous color and landscaping, the 96-acre property at Memphis Botanic Garden, located right next to the University of Memphis, dazzles visitors with 28 specialty gardens, providing an in-depth look at a variety of flowers, plants and trees.
According to a number of scholars, the first botanic gardens were actually just herb gardens. The Memphis gardens expanded their own herb garden, which was one of the original sections, in October of 2011. Visitors can now explore the three area’s of the attraction’s expanded garden.
The developed areas of the herb garden contain 750 species of plants all together, and act as a giant testing ground to see which types of herbs will survive in the Mid-South climate. The garden is divided into three sections: the formal area, the meadow and a woodland area.
The formal garden, a traditional European-style herb garden, features around-the-world herbs such as thymes, germander, rosemary, sages and lavender. The meadow is home to more robust plants such as shrub roses, comfrey and indigos. The woodland, sectioned by continents, contains a comprehensive array of woodland herbs from around the world, including medicinal, dye, cosmetic and utilitarian plants.
After wandering the herb garden, visitors can experience another popular garden on the property – the Anne Heard Stokes Butterfly Garden. The space incorporates a variety of plants that are designed to attract the pretty insects. A major portion of the plants are native and the garden includes herbs like parsley, fennel and chives that act as food for butterfly larvae. Plant species like coneflower, goldstrum, daisies, and asters serve as sources of nectar, while passion vine and red honeysuckle provide color and fragrance.
Walk through the Daylily Circle to see a collection of approximately 500 different daylilies. The Four Seasons Garden features a number of beds that contain annuals, perennials and tropical plants. In December, the garden’s Holly Collection is one of the most popular spots, and the collection is one of the most extensive found in any public garden.
Along with gorgeous plants, flowers and educational opportunities, the garden puts on a number of events throughout the year. They celebrate Bird Month in February with classes and a photography contest, and put on an annual “Daffodil Dash” 3-mile run in March. From late April through October, guests can shop for some of the freshest local produce, meats, baked goods and more at the garden’s Farmers Market. They also hosts a “Live at the Garden” summer concert series each year with a star-studded lineup scheduled to perform outdoor concerts.
Memphis Botanic Garden is perfect for families too, with the “My Big Backyard” section catered for kids. Little ones can learn about the important roles that plants play in the home and explore shapes and colors in a hands-on garden.
The Memphis Botanic Garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the spring and summer, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the winter. My Big Backyard opens at 11 a.m. on Mondays. For more information, visit www.memphisbotanicgarden.com or call (901) 636-4100.