Walking trails, display gardens, unique and historic horticulture, and over two miles of distinctive stone walls and timeless buildings. Home of Knoxville’s Secret Garden, which bears some likeness to the hidden garden in "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who began her professional writing career when she lived in Knoxville.
Crushed Gravel Trail: 0.9 mile
The enchanting walking trails at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum saunter along secret garden pathways and alleys. Amid beautiful display gardens one can find unique horticulture— every season beautifully showcased. Over 2 miles of distinctive stonewalls border the trails, taking you past whimsical round stone buildings and stone-sided greenhouses.
The Secret Garden:
The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum’s Secret Garden was made possible by a generous gift from Richard and Jane Ray in memory of their beloved daughter Andie. Inspired by one-time Knoxville resident Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden, the nearly one-acre garden incorporates reminders of Andie and her passions.
The Secret Garden is defined by large hedges of holly, arborvitae and Leyland cypress as well as the original Howell Nursery stone walls. Just outside the garden boundary is an herb garden named for Mary, the novel’s main character. It contains a planter surrounded by catmint, rosemary, thyme and other perennial herbs.
Enter the Secret Garden through a door custom made by the KBGA’s Executive Director Jim Richards. Keys are cast into the concrete at the foot of the door. A clay robin by artist Janet Harper welcomes visitors to a small garden room with potted plants and a cutting garden full of flowering perennials and animal statuary. A sign on the stone wall pays homage to Andie and her life well-lived. Andie owned the popular Vagabondia boutique, named after another Burnett novel and Burnett’s Knoxville home dubbed Vagabondia Castle. The shop sign is displayed along with a bronze replica of one of her favorite trademark hats.
A path winds through the cutting garden, around Mary’s Maple tree and a large bluebird nest and egg created by a local artist. It continues downhill to a little library and a reading garden with a small sitting area and larger reading circle. The fully-accessible, boulder reading circle is surrounded by ornamental shrubs with the Botanical Garden’s bamboo maze as its backdrop.