Wildflower Wonderlands at Tennessee State Parks and Gardens
Looking for a fun way to enjoy Tennessee’s beauty this spring? Start your season off on the right foot – literally – by heading out on a wildflower walk.
According to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, the state grows some 3,000 species of wildflowers, which are classified by botanists as either monocots or dicots. Monocots, typically characterized by parallel-veined leaves and flowers with petals in multiples of three, include species such as lilies and daffodils. Dicots can be recognized by net-veined leaves and four or five petals, and include buttercups, roses and honeysuckle.
Bringing color and beauty to each landscape they grace, wildflowers can be found and enjoyed in a variety of locations. Discover where you can find flowers in your neck of the woods, or plan a trip to visit some of these fantastically floral areas that range from botanical gardens to state parks.
Overlooking the Tennessee River, Crescent Bend in Knoxville features formal Italian gardens with thousands of flowers. This three-acre garden, located on the property of the Armstrong-Lockett House, also includes nine terraces and five fountains. Visit in late March or early April for the annual TulipTime, when a rainbow of tulips are in bloom.
Located in Morgan County, Frozen Head State Park comprises 13,122 acres in the Cumberland Mountain range and is home to nearly 60 miles of trails that feature some of the most abundant wildflower areas in Tennessee. The park also offers small streams, waterfalls and additional vegetation.
The Great Smoky Mountains offer a variety of trails ideal for viewing wildflowers, such as the Oconaluftee River Trail, the Middle Prong Trail and the Little River Trail. Check out guided wildflower walks, including the 64th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, slated for April 15-19, 2014.
Norris Dam State Park in Anderson County also offers guided wildflower hikes on the last Saturday in March and the first Saturday in April. Participants can learn to identify more than 30 different kinds of wildflowers as they explore the natural beauty of this 4,038-acre park on the Norris Reservoir.
Offering 55 acres of gardens and greenery, Nashville’s Cheekwood Botanical Gardens has been featured in Southern Living magazine. In addition to its many gardens and trails, Cheekwood is home to a woodland wildflower garden, called the Howe Wildflower Garden. This garden is said to be most vibrant in April and features a variety of herbaceous and woody native plants and a trillium collection.
Located in Byrdstown, Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park hosts spring wildflower hikes led by park rangers. Visitors are invited to explore the Bunkum Cave Trail and enjoy learning about folklore, as well as medicinal and edible uses for the flowers seen on the hike.
Follow the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville down through southern Middle Tennessee to see dozens of varieties of wildflowers dotting the landscape. Evening primrose, blue violets and black-eyed Susans add color to scenic historic parkway.
The Memphis Botanic Garden is home to multiple gardens, including the Wildflower Woodland, which comprises native flowers that one might find strolling through a nearby forest. This garden blooms from late March through April and includes labels with many of the plants it features.
Also in Memphis, Dixon Gallery & Gardens offers the newly renovated Woodland Gardens, the largest of the art museum’s five gardens. The Woodland Gardens feature a variety of woodland plants, including wildflowers, and offer guided tours throughout late March.