The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum also known as KBGA is a not for profit urban community situated in Knoxville, Tennessee. Spanning 47 acres, KBGA contains history of horticulture dating back over 200 years. Located in close proximity to downtown Knoxville, KBGA relies on membership schemes, volunteers and donations from visitors and corporate sponsors to maintain its no admission fee approach. KBGA is open all days of the year and provides a garden map for those visitors opting to self guide themselves. Group tours can also be arranged when booking ahead. The gardens are publicly accessible to all. KBGA hosts a variety of events throughout the year such as weddings, private parties and annual events.

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The history of KBGA started over 200 years ago with land in 1780 being purchased by David Wessel Howell. Mr Howell planted an orchard on the land and started up a family farm selling fruit and vegetables to local businesses and families. Next, he sold the seeds, small plants and trees from his land so others could grow trees and plants. Generations passed with the farm being handed down and eventually formed into KBGA 2001 originally with only 16 of the acres being purchased. In 2004, the 28 others were purchased.


The Joe Howell house dates back to 1929 when the land it is located on on was purchased by Jon Howell. The house construction began with only four rooms with a final total of 26 rooms seeing it completed in the fifties.The gardens surrounding the house have been renovated to match the authentic design such as the brick borders. Visitors can view many of the original features still present such as evergreen shrubs, stonework and double brick edging.

Another attraction is the Stone Terraces. The terraces were designed in the style of terraced English gardens of the 1950’s era. The stone walls, round gatehouses and layout represent natural garden landscaping in tune with the environment around it. Three large trees are also found by the terraces, a Kentucky coffee tree, southern magnolia and tulip poplar.

Further stonework located on the premises is the Master Gardener Beds. The space contains unusual and unique plant varieties which were planted and designed by a group of Kox County Master Gardeners. Created in 2011, these beds have an additional use as working teaching area for garden clubs and master gardeners. Further examples of beds and stonewalls is the Row Garden. Built in 1938, the garden consists of plants growing within neatly partitioned beds built by reclaimed concrete plates locally. Surrounding the garden are stone walls thought to be the oldest remaining walls from the original nursery.

Dating back nearly 70 years is the martha H. Ashe Harden. Originally a creation of the Joe N. Howell Landscape Nursery. Redesigned in 2007, the project removed overgrown plants, filled spaces with new plants and worked on the current plant bed design and plant materials. Now, visitors can view the neatly maintained plants in a picturesque setting.

Situated in on the land is the Welcome Center and Danae garden. The center is comprised of a 5,000 square foot building which was originally the nursery’s plot barn, before being renovated. The center holds events and is open to the public who can tour the patio and garden space.

The butterfly Meadow allows visitors to view 50 species of native Tennessee plants and both sides of the beds in the meadow. Next to the meadow is a classroom for children to learn about their natural surroundings.

Ongoing programs and education

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum has a range of lessons, courses and workshops for all age groups. The topics covered range from landscape design, health and wellness, the arts and vegetable gardening. On the grounds, visitors will also find the Center for Urban Agriculture. Spanning 10 acres, the facility allows for novice or experienced gardeners to grow food. Within the center are five areas, The Market Garden, Amphitheater Garden, Family Garden, Every Child Outdoors Youth Vegetable Garden and Terrace Garden. The residents of Knoxville are provided fresh vegetables and fruit from these gardens and also learn about agricultural training, entrepreneurial opportunities, value added products and nutritional education.

Back to: Knoxville, TN

2743 I Av, Knoxville,TN 37914, Phone: 865-540-8690

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