| About Baxter Gardens
Baxter Gardens is a private residence which opens its gardens to the public during the month of April as part of the Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, and is comprised of fifteen gardens which can be toured during the festival with the assistance of a printed map and guide or QR code provided onsite.
The gardens were constructed, beginning in 1992, on the south facing crest of Black Oak Ridge in Fountain City, in North Knoxville. The first garden designed and constructed was The White Garden, modeled after a similar garden at Sissinghurst Castle in England. The English Garden influence is strong throughout the gardens. Another major influence on the design of the gardens has been Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed and built Biltmore Gardens in Asheville, N.C., as well as Central Park in New York City and The Public Gardens in Boston. Olmsted emphasized designing in harmony with the topography of the site, complimenting and respecting what nature has given you.
Baxter Gardens has received thousands of visitors over the years and has been recognized in several garden publications, most notably Southern Living and Garden Design.
The popularity of the gardens has brought new challenges, most notably protecting the gardens from damage from the heavy – and sometimes wayward- foot traffic. Crowds reached 25,000 in April 2021, leaving their impact. Many of our visitors are garden lovers and come to enjoy the plants, the designs, and perhaps get ideas for their own gardens. We love this, and this was exactly why we opened our gardens for the Dogwood Festival initially. We hope you will all continue visiting and enjoying our common love.
However, in 2021, we experienced a huge increase in visitors coming for photographs in the gardens, as well as by families using the gardens for outings and recreation. While we are highly complimented that our gardens are attractive for these purposes, we are not set up to handle these “public” functions and the crowds that go with them. Therefore, we will respectfully request that beginning in April, 2022:
- Individuals, prom couples, engaged or married couples and families will continue to be welcomed to have special occasion photos taken here. We’re honored you would do so. However, no “staged” photography will be allowed. No professional equipment such as reflectors, etc. is permitted. The use of confetti, glitter, props that create debris, etc. is strictly prohibited. No commercial photographers will be allowed to “set up shop” on our property, advertising the scheduling of appointments, etc. Our gardens are not a second, free, outdoor studio for business use. Sadly, this past April, the garden visits of many were spoiled or diminished by a small number of photographers who took inappropriate advantage of the open gardens for their own purpose.
- We warmly welcome families to come enjoy the gardens, and we will continue to do so. Unfortunately, a major source of the physical damage to the gardens was caused by unsupervised children. We have worked hard to build pathways through the gardens to display all the plants, sculptures, etc. We need everyone to stay on the paths during their visits. Do not climb on rocks and sculptures. Do not throw rocks into the fountains. We need parents to supervise their children. It took several months to repair and restore the gardens back to their normal condition due to the heavy foot traffic that occurred off the pathways and through vulnerable plant beds last year. Some plants had to be replaced.
- Please respect privacy signs and do not step over chains indicating “No Access.” Keep in mind this is a private residence.
We want to emphasize that 95% of our visitors are respectful of the fact that these are private gardens, and it takes a huge effort to be prepared to share them with the public each April for the Festival. We are greatly appreciative of this. Our pleas to commercial photographers and parents are meant to preserve and ensure the garden experience for everyone.