Governor Bill Haslam has signed a bill designating the University of Tennessee Gardens as the official botanical garden for the Volunteer State. The UT Gardens are operated by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and can be found in three locations: the UTIA campus in Knoxville, the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson, and the recently added location at the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville. The new location is to be formally announced Friday at the Cumberland County 2013 Flower and Garden Show.
The UT Gardens mission is to cultivate an appreciation of plants through horticultural displays, educational programs and research. Every year more than 100,000 visitors travel to UT Gardens locations to attend one of the many special events and educational seminars or simply to explore the beautiful grounds. The gardens also serve as an outdoor laboratory where researchers evaluate the performance and landscape appeal of each plant.
Dr. Susan Hamilton, director of the UT Gardens, is elated about the statewide recognition. “Everyone associated with the gardens, from faculty, staff and student interns, to the many volunteers, Master Gardeners and donors, has worked hard to present an outstanding collection of public gardens. To be recognized as the state botanical garden is a great honor,” she said. “The designation also heightens awareness of one of Tennessee’s best botanical resources.”
Ms. Hamilton thanked State Senator Becky Duncan Massey, of Knoxville, and State Representative Jimmy Eldridge, of Jackson, for being the primary sponsors of the legislation.
The designation passed unanimously in both the state senate and house. Previously, Tennessee did not have an official botanical garden. A botanical garden is defined as a garden where experts study, exhibit and teach about plants.
The original UT Gardens location in Knoxville is celebrating 30 years of landscape research and education. Established in 1983 by the UT Department of Plant Sciences, the UT Gardens have grown into a nationally recognized research and teaching site. They are recognized as one out of 51 official All American Selections (AAS) test sites in the United States, conducting evaluations assessing heat and cold tolerance, flower production, plant uniformity, flower and plant size, pest resistance and landscape appeal. Such information is important to commercial plant and seed companies and essential to the success of commercial growers, landscapers and gardeners, allowing the Tennessee green industry to flourish and for gardening to remain the number one hobby in America. In addition, public horticulture is among the fastest growing concentrations of study in the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
The gardens are also recognized as a certified Tennessee Arboretum.
All UT Gardens locations are open to the public and free to visit, although some events are fee based. Plans for additional displays as well as additional locations are in the works. For more information about the UT Gardens, including upcoming events, visit http://utgardens.tennessee.edu or follow on Facebook.
The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.