Cheekwood Rose Study Garden

In Partnership with
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Finally, A Rose Garden!!

by Ron Daniels, N.R.S. Member, A.R.S. Consulting Rosarian, Master Gardener

Listen to Chris VanCleave’s RoseChat broadcast with our own member, Ron Daniels, as he tells Chris about the partnership between the Nashville Rose Society and the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. Click here for the podcast page, then click the Play button.

Cheekwood logo

Being a member of the Nashville Rose Society (NRS) for many years, I’ve often wondered why we didn’t have a rose garden onsite at Cheekwood. Our NRS has its meeting at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens which is a semi-famous landmark in Nashville, TN. It’s actually the former home and gardens of the Cheek family who were known for their Maxwell House Coffee fame. We’ve had our monthly rose meetings and rose shows there for many years, but no rose garden on the property. Not one!! This really bugged me and I think I know why.

I am a Master Gardener in Sumner County, Tennessee. Every month during the growing season we plant and maintain local gardens at non-profit sites in our home county and community. The result has been unity and enthusiasm for sharing gardening with others. So, I set out to investigate how and why there was no rose garden in this beautiful garden in Nashville also known as, Music City USA! My goal was to see if we could not only have beautiful roses for Cheekwood visitors, but one that we could use to teach new NRS members and the public about planting and caring for roses with a “hands-on garden”!! I could hardly wait!

Our Mission is Shared with Cheekwood

I shared my mission with NRS members and thanks to their help we were able to arrange a meeting with the powers to be at Cheekwood to talk about a possible teaching rose garden at Cheekwood. So, on a cold winter’s day in February 2015, Sam Jones who was our Tenarky District Director, Todd Breyer who is the Landscape Architect at Cheekwood and who was on board for our garden and myself, had our initial meeting. We shared with them our idea and they were pretty receptive to our request! We walked around the grounds and they showed us two possible areas that could be used for the new rose garden! We were very encouraged, but knew that we did not have the green light to start digging! The Cheekwood staff explained that they would have to get final approval from the C.E.O. at Cheekwood and they would get back in touch with us. Our wait began and our excitement was as strong as ever!

After a few weeks they contacted me and gave us the green light to build the new rose garden, great news! Did I mention that they had a few requests and conditions? They requested an agreement from us stating that we would furnish all materials, labor, a preliminary drawing and layout and that NRS members would maintain and care for it. We were excited about receiving their approval and reported the good news back to our NRS members!

I started contacting vendors and friends of the NRS about donating materials to build the garden. Believe it or not, they all agreed to donate to help our garden become a reality! Our NRS paid for the labor and miscellaneous expenses. We started grading also known as, “moving the dirt” on May 29th and completed the project on June 26, 2015. Our excitement was filled while our NRS garden began taking form! It was September 14, 2015 that the real fun and excitement began! Our members planted 42 rose bushes and we will plant an additional 10-15 roses in the spring of 2016. Cheekwood had requested we plant 60% Earth Kind (no spray) roses, and the rest could be Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Miniatures, Floribundas, Minifloras, Shrubs, Old Garden Roses (OGRs), Climbers, and Rugosa. (For a complete list of roses currently planted in the Garden, click here.) Our new NRS rose garden is a hit! All of our NRS members loved it – especially the new ones!

NRS garden

We meet the first Sunday of the month from 2:00pm – 5:00pm. We spend part of our meeting time in our new garden teaching, learning, and mentoring. As of a couple of weeks ago, our new garden has an official name, “ROSE STUDY GARDEN in Partnership with Cheekwood”.

This garden was definitely worth all the planning and work. It has given us a sense of community. It has renewed our goal to share the love of roses with others. It has given us a tool to encourage others to grow roses and the benefit of hands on experience in knowing they can do it! Another bonus is our membership has increased!

Contributors to the construction of the Rose Study Garden

Belgard Stone Co. Furnish – stone for borders
Southern Nurseries, Terry Flatt – Holy Cow soil mix
S & W Greenhouse, Jeff Smith – roses
Todd Breyer, Landscape Architect – drawing for the garden
NRS members – cost of labor to lay stone, grading, spreading soil and the drip water system
Of course there has been a lot of volunteer work by NRS members