Stop and Smell the Tennessee Irises at Ellington Agricultural Center

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In a peaceful clearing on the spacious grounds of Ellington Agriculture Center in Nashville, irises of more than a hundred varieties and colors pop up from the ground every spring.

“It’s kind of like a secret garden – not everybody is aware it’s there,” says Darnell Hester, vice president for Region 7 (Tennessee and Kentucky) of the American Iris Society and an avid iris grower on his Springfield farm. “You can see so many new and popular iris varieties on about one third of an acre.”

The iris garden is located at the end of a scenic nature trail and features a stunning white gazebo, which has made it one of Nashville’s most popular outdoor wedding destinations.


Iris Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center

The garden is maintained by around 40 volunteer members of the Middle Tennessee Iris Society, an affiliate of the American Iris Society.

“We are responsible for weeding, fertilizing and replanting to keep the iris plants growing,” Hester says. “The society also has a flower show in May and an iris sale in July. Both are held at the Ellington Agriculture Center’s Jones Auditorium.”


Iris Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center

It was the annual iris sale that prompted Hester and his wife, Judye, to join the Middle Tennessee Iris Society in 1989.

“We saw an ad for the iris sale and wound up buying some plants,” Hester recalls. “Now we have our own iris garden on our farm where we grow more than 1,000 iris varieties, including ones we hybridize.”


iris, flowers, Ellington Agricultural Center, Nashville, TN

Iris blooms begin to appear in mid-April and reach their peak around the second week in May. Ellington Agriculture Center is located at 440 Hogan Road, just 10 miles south of downtown Nashville. The center is open during normal business hours Monday through Friday, and admission is free. Visit them online for more details.

Interested in joining a local chapter of the American Iris Society? Call Hester at (615) 384-6593.

You might also like these posts:

Iris City Gardens in Primm Springs
Tennessee Iris Festival in Dresden

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