The Nashville Rose Society + Cheekwood Estate and Botanical Gardens

A Partnership in Education

By Jill Garabedian


The Rose Study Garden at Cheekwood in full bloom.
After many years of Nashville Rose Society meetings being held at Cheekwood, Ron Daniels, current Co-President of the NRS, wondered why there was not a rose garden on the grounds. Since one of the Nashville Rose Society priorities is rose education and a core value at Cheekwood is botanical education, it seemed a natural fit to have a study garden on site.

In February, 2015, Ron, the late Dr. Sam Jones, who, at the time was the Tenarky District Director, and Todd Breyer, Landscape Architect at Cheekwood, with the support of the Nashville Rose Society, had an initial meeting with Cheekwood to propose not only a beautiful rose garden but a “hands on” rose garden that could be used to teach new NRS members and the general public about caring for and planting roses. (For the full story of how the Garden came about, click here.)

‘Crescendo’ in the garden
By June of 2015, with an agreement in place that Cheekwood would donate a site and the NRS would build and maintain it, the rose garden began to take form, utilizing raised beds and a drip system. A majority of the materials were donated by local vendors and labor provided by NRS members. In August of 2015, the first 42 rose bushes were planted and the site was named the Rose Study Garden. In the Spring of 2016, 15 more rosebushes were added.

How the Rose Study Garden is Used

NRS members teach how to plant roses in the Study Garden
With the garden in place, in order to maximize educational opportunities, the NRS changed their meeting time from evening to afternoon so the last part of each meeting is utilized for in garden demonstrations. In early Spring, planting and pruning for the season, during the Summer, deadheading, feeding and spraying and in the Fall, how to winterize roses. These demonstrations have proven to be helpful to new members and have been effective in helping to grow NRS membership by offering and encouraging first hand experience for members to take and use in their own gardens. This also enables veteran members to offer mentorship to newer members, which has proven to be invaluable. Overall, the Rose Study Garden has provided a sense of community within the NRS membership, everyone has done their part, whether making labels, helping with demonstrations, planting or clean up, all have pitched in and have a sense of ownership in the garden.

NRS members have “work days” to maintain the Rose Study Garden to the high standards set by Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. The NRS has been deeply committed to the success of the Rose Study Garden and have volunteered many hours to keep the garden in excellent shape. Cheekwood has many gardens on site and the NRS has been awarded the 2018 and 2019 Century Award for accumulating the most volunteer hours of any garden club or plant society.

The NRS sponsors workshops for Cheekwood visitors on growing and caring for roses, including a “Pick Your Own Bouquet” event, with many from the general public joining the society as a result.

“Tuesday for Tots” is very popular.
To encourage the next generation of rosarians, NRS member, Lani Rossmann, has done a great job coming up with creative ideas to introduce young children to roses through Cheekwoods “Tuesdays for Tots” Program by having rose themed arts and crafts activities. “Tuesdays for Tots’ provides art and garden adventures for toddlers. Held outdoors, our last event drew nearly 150 adults and kids during a two hour arts and crafts session held adjacent to the rose garden.

What started as a dream of Ron Daniels, the Rose Study Garden at Cheekwood has proven to not only be a beautiful public rose garden but an invaluable teaching tool, utilizing practical workshops and lessons in growing and maintaining roses.

The Rose Study Garden Roses

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About Cheekwood Estate and Botanical Gardens

Cheekwood logoSituated on 55 acres, Cheekwood was built in 1929, originally as a home for Leslie and Mable Cheek, investors in the Maxwell House brand of coffee, it opened to the pubic in 1960 as a botanical garden and art museum. Annually, more than 225,000 visit the property for seasonal attractions celebrating the four seasons through the year as well as outstanding art installations, family activities and all age programming. Voted on of the top ten botanical gardens by USA Today Readers Choice Poll, upcoming 2020 higlights include Cheekwood in Bloom, celebrating the arrival of Spring, the grand opening of the Bracken Foundations Children’s Garden in March, the grand reopening of Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail in April, a Dale Chihuly installation, Chihuly at Cheekwood, opening in April, Summertime at Cheekwood, Cheekwood Harvest in the fall, and Holiday Lights during the holiday season.

For more information about Cheekwood, visit

Reprinted with permission from American Rose, The Magazine of the American Rose Society, March/April 2020.