Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

I love a good “TRAIN STORY,” don’t you? The story of the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens is just that! Mabel Wood was on a train from New York to Nashville, Tennessee, when Leslie Cheek bribed the porter, with a box of cigars, to find out the name of the beautiful young Mabel. Two years later, in 1896, they were married in Clarksville, Tennessee. They soon settled down in Nashville, where Leslie worked for his father’s company, C.T. Cheek & Sons, the largest wholesale grocery distribution center in the Southeast, United States. The Cheek family also owned the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company, creators and brewers of MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE  and TEA. You know, the “good to the last drop” folks.…….. The specialty blend of coffee was named and marketed by the best hotel in Nashville, the Maxwell House. The brand was so successful, that it launched the local business into nation-wide production and it was President Teddy Roosevelt, who claimed it was “good to the last drop!”

The Cheek-Neal Company was sold in 1928 to the Postum Company for $45 million and re-named General Foods. The Cheek family became very wealthy. Leslie and Mable decided to build their own place and named it, Cheekwood. They moved into the mansion in 1932. Tragedy struck in 1935, when Leslie Cheek died. Left alone were Mabel and the two children, Huldah and Leslie Jr. Mabel Wood Cheek passed away in 1946, leaving the Cheekwood Estate to her daughter. On May 31, 1960, Cheekwood opened as a public garden and fine arts center with the support of the Exchange Club of Nashville and the Horticultural Society of Middle Tennessee. The pre-existing Nashville Museum of Art had disbanded and transferred their entire permanent collection to Cheekwood. The 55-acre botanical garden and home is one of the finest examples of American Country Place estates. Cheekwood presents world-class art exhibitions and spectacular garden settings…….. I can’t wait to see the one-mile holiday light display over the Christmas holidays and the 150,000 bulbs in the Spring! Cheekwood is definitely one of Nashville’s top cultural attractions……….

As you enter the gardens of Cheekwood, it is all about color!

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee
Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee
Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

To add to the colors, we also had the artwork of blown glass from sculptor/glass blower Dale Chihuly. Chihuly picks one garden a year to showcase his glass blowing skills. See my previous post to learn more about this famous artist and other pieces at Cheekwood now. Isn’t this section of the garden just amazing?

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee
Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and these vivid pieces remind me of a thousand snakes……. as we walk to the Sculpture Trail…….

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

Every Victorian garden had to have a sphinx piece, Sphinxes with female faces were favorite garden pieces in the 19th century.

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

A Cheekwood sign about how they lay out the gardens and featured colors………

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and turning down this walkway……….

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

more snakes…………

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and I really liked the used of the ornamental peppers here, which tied all the colors together!

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee
Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

walking this way…………

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

we find another Chihuly piece……….I liked the use of the black/green/purple grasses too.

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

This gives you an idea of the layout at Cheekwood……

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

What do we find here on the Cedar Loop?

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

A human rabbit? There is probably a scientific name for a piece like this, but I don’t know what it is…….Do you?

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and the glass red stick fence……..to keep her where she is………

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee
Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

This map gives you a better feel for the house plan at the top of the 55-acre garden……

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

Following the Cedar Loop up to the house we pass the big stones with writing on them……..and you get the first glimpse of another Chihuly piece……

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and up close, looking down……..

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

Another Chihuly piece near the mansion………

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and the mansion itself, which is now an art museum. There were Chihuly pieces inside, but our tickets, this time, were just for the garden……..Another COVID situation for us………

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

Looking down at the Japanese Garden………..more Chihuly snakes……I think he loves snakes. What do you think?

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and the Fountain Gardens were close too.

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee
Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

Everyone should have spitting turtles!

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

I’m not sure, but I think this could have been a prayer chamber of some kind…..

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

and my last snake photo, I promise!

Cheekwood Gardens, Nashville, Tennessee

Our tickets were limited and timed, due to the COVID restrictions in place. I fell in love with the wide, gently rolling span of the gardens and the selection of plants. We will be going back and I promise to show the garden in other seasons! If you are a gardener, this garden should be on your bucket list!

PS The drive to this garden alone is worth the trip. Following a road chocked on each side with homes that are the best, until you see the one next door, I couldn’t believe the size of the homes or their gardens either. Then the road abruptly stops at the perfectly manicured golf course. Turn right, following the road with fine condominiums and townhouses on the right and the golf course on the left, until the road finally ends at the entrance to Cheekwood! Unbelievable!

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Those gardens are spectacular thanks for sharing them. I saw some of Chihuly glass installations at Kew Gardens a couple of years ago and was blown away by the scale and colour of them. Spectacular

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know Dorris, aren’t they something?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful place to visit!

    Like

  3. I’m all for red in a garden…..and there’s plenty of red in these stunning pictures. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa says:

    I really like the “snakes,” in moderation. Maybe a bit less than it looked like there were? Striking. I don’t care for the bigger works. The “snakes” colors are fabulous.

    Like

  5. Katharine says:

    I saw the Chiluly exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Some of it I loved, and some I really didn’t. I definitely think the red coloured glass rods are the most effective, especially near those glorious Cannas. Thanks for sharing the detail and history of this amazing garden.

    Like

  6. March Picker says:

    I’ve been to Nashville a few times, but never Cheekwood. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you’ll have to go there!

      Like

  7. Nate says:

    Wow! So cool! I’ve never even heard of it before!

    Like

  8. What an amazing experience it must have been to see those sculptures! The colours are incredible, and add a real pop to the entire garden! It was interesting to read about their meeting on the train, and wonderful that such a place has been preserved and open to the public. I just loved the human rabbit! Cleverly made, and what a size! My favourite view is the yellow/ purple/green “tree” hat leads the eye down the pathway with all the soft colours on either side of the pathway. The fiery glass tree is just stunning!! Thanks for sharing your adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it!

    Like

    1. The Chihuly pieces are really worth seeing but I think the landscape of Cheekwood just makes the area come alive! ! I see now on Cheekwood’s website that they have pumpkin houses in the garden……..I hope we can make it over there to see that! I may have to buy a membership!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pumpkin houses?? I’m definitely going to look at their website too!

        Like

  9. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the tour around Cheekwood Estate – a fabulous place.

    Like

  10. What a beautiful garden, so colourful. Thanks for sharing

    Like

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