When you think about Nashville, strolling elaborately lush gardens might not be the first thing that springs to mind. But this Southern city has some of the prettiest darn gardens anywhere around. Read on for the full list, sourced from our local insiders.
Back in the 1880s, Christopher Cheek ran a Nashville-based grocery business that was hugely successful; the enterprise was all in the family, and its offshoots – such as Maxwell House coffee founded by his cousin – eventually formed a lucrative conglomerate, which sold for millions a few generations later in 1928. After the sale, Christopher Cheek’s son Leslie purchased 100 acres (40ha) in West Nashville to erect a grand country estate. The colonial-revival mansion, a Georgian-style limestone home with formal gardens, was completed in 1932. Today, the estate is open to the public, attracting around a quarter of a million visitors annually. The big attraction is the garden, with iridescent crepe myrtle blossoms, big round boxwoods, rows of perky daffodils and Southern natives such as redbud shrubs and purple trilliums. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
The Gaylord Opryland is an opulent icon. And while the resort has all the trappings you’d expect of a four-star hotel, it has one thing most don’t: an indoor garden that feels like a tamed wilderness. The glass ceiling allows natural light to pour down from above and greet the exotic growths sprouting beneath along the banks of an artificial river, which is home to no fewer than 800 varieties of fish. You needn’t be a guest to stroll through this forest of fragrant fruit trees (such as Hawaiian papaya and Indian banana), century-old manicured bonsais and bright clusters of orchids. For $10 (£8), you can take a boat ride through the river inside – but be sure to know what you’ll ask the Wishing Banyan Tree for when you glide underneath. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
While its residents spent most of the year on their Louisiana plantation, their antebellum mega-home – totaling 36 rooms, comprising 19,000 square feet (1,765 sq. m.) – spared no expense for their summer residence. Inspired by Italian villas, the Acklen clan mansion included extensive gardens, an aviary – even a zoo. When constructed in the 19th century, the mansion was a bit off the beaten path. Today, however, as Nashville has developed, the grounds sit right on the city’s outskirts. So it’s a great escape near town. Saunter through this historically preserved locale to take a gander at the many flowers, gazebos and sculptures along its footpaths. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
The work of the Nashville Tree Foundation isn’t in one place – since 1986, the organization has planted more than 10,000 trees across 26 designated arboretum sites throughout Davidson County. They focus on planting fully developed native and heirloom species to flourish for many generations to come. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso
This arboretum (a botanical collection made exclusively of trees) includes 360 trees spanning 152 species. Tours of these gardens, led by the owners, Randy Allen and wife Carolyn Martin Allen, are free. The site is notable for its extensive varieties of bamboo, and for its popularity among local wildlife – including mink, deer, muskrats and raccoons. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso