It's probably my age, and definitely Covid played a part, but over the last few years my interest in gardening has gone way up. The kid whose mother had to all but drag her into the garden for weeding is now instructing her children on native plants and soil quality, and it's hard to measure the amount of comfort I derived last year durig the pandemic to watch tiny things bloom. It was the best picture of hope I could ask for.
This year I'm excited that Discovery Center will host the Secret Garden Tour for the community once more. With six gardens on the tour, each featuring unique plants, flowers, creatures, and purposes, they're a beautiful picture of hope in bloom with lots to delight and inspire visitors of all ages. Young guests will also have the opportunity to complete the Children's Secret Garden Tour Scavenger Hunt and return it to the Discovery Center for a special garden-themed prize!
Get a sneak peek of the gardens on tour this year and make plans to take the tour June 5 and 6.
1. Murfreesboro Community Garden, 806 East State Street, Murfreesboro (Behind Key Memorial United Methodist Church)
This plot will be inspiring for home gardeners with its rustic rows of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. In June 2014, Autumn and Aaron Maynard were introduced to a plot of land generously offered by a local church and the State Street garden was born. In 2015, Murfreesboro Community Gardening developed a board and became a 501(c)3. Since then, it has been worked by almost 1,000 volunteers, had its own shed built, and grown hundreds of pounds of fresh local produce free of charge for the community. With enormous support from individuals, groups, and companies, the garden celebrates its eighth year in June 2021.
2. Monarch Meadow, 2018 Winslow Court, Murfreesboro
A butterfly garden in the city? Yes, please! Monarch Meadow is certified by Monarch Watch of Kansas University as a Monarch Butterfly Waystation. In 2013, after learning that the Monarch butterfly migration was threatened and endangered, owners Gladys Paradis and Linell began growing native and tropical milkweeds which are the only plants a Monarch caterpillar will eat. In addition to seven types of milkweed, visitors will find wisteria, tiger lilies, irises, hibiscus, canna, purple coneflower, gladiolas, phlox, day lilies, Sweet William, Brown-eyed Susans, butterfly bushes, bee balm, pink clover, dianthus, balloon flowers, ice plants and much more.
3. Eden's Edge, private garden of Kate and Gary Patrick, 322 Osborne Lane, Murfreesboro
Eden's Edge was created by the Patricks in 2004 although the majority of it was built after 2010. More than four acres are filled with multiple curving beds of daylilies, iris, peonies, grasses and many other shrubs and perennials. The Patricks have used natural and organic methods whenever possible, reserving "chemical warfare" for the most extreme issues! The soil is heavily amended with organic matter to lighten the heavy clay. Close planting suppresses weed growth and provides shelter. The Patricks' goal is to provide refuge and solace from the outside world and provide beauty as well as ample habitat for all sorts of creatures.
4. Wild About Wildflowers, private garden of Ran Powers, 410 Clubridge Court, Murfreesboro
My kind of garden—simple, native, and lovely— this small suburban yard features over 100 middle Tennessee wildflowers. It is a young landscape with plants that have lived through only one or two complete growing seasons. Here you will see all Middle Tennessee native plants, instead of commonly used plants from Asia and Europe seen in most suburban landscaping. Powers' goal is to support a “living landscape” of native birds, insects and florals to better aid the local food web and the wildlife it sustains.
5. Blooming Joy Flower Company, 5710 Sledge Road, Christiana
The gardens of Blooming Joy Flower Company began in early 2018 as an idea in the heart of owner Kara Jamison to learn how to grow cut flowers to bring others joy. Initially focusing on annual seed production flowers, the gardens took on a different during the pandemic. The extra time at the farm allowed for large perennial garden instillations. With more than 1,000 perennials for cut flowers, the gardens have taken on a magical look just a year later. The focus of the gardens is for cut flower arrangements for customers and garden education on social media. Nine different gardens exist on the farm of just under seven acres focusing on cottage garden style.
6. Discovery Center, 502 SE Broad St, Murfreesboro
At Discovery Center guests are invited to take time to enjoy the rasied-bed gardens which provide produce for the center's animals and ingredients for the popular Snack Attack and SPARK! programs. Descend the outdoor stairs and step across the Lily Pad Pond and journey along the boardwalk into the wetlands by its artful stepping stones. Bring a camera to capture many of the creatures thriving in the wetlands!
Ready to go? The Secret Garden Tour will be held Saturday, June 5 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, June 6 from 1-4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at explorethedc.org/sgp or at any stop of the tour. Tour maps and children's scavenger hunt booklets may be picked up at any of the garden sites.
Make it a weekend! Make plans to attend the Secret Garden Party June 4 at the home of Ken and Judy Stone, or bring littles to the Enchanted Garden Princess Tea at Discovery Center June 6 at 1 p.m. Tickets for both events are available at explorethedc.org/sgp.
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.