Alan Carmichael makes the acquaintance of a giant iron grasshopper at a party at UT Gardens.
I pass by the UT Gardens on Neyland Drive several times a week coming and going from downtown Knoxville to parts west. They are mostly a blur to me.
But once a year, we attend a fantastic fundraiser there that really puts us up close to the fascinating things going on in what became last year the official botanical gardens of the state of Tennessee.
The UT Gardens in Knoxville and their sister gardens in Crossville and Jackson function as outdoor laboratories to evaluate the performance and best landscape use of every type of plant from trees and shrubs to annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses and aquatic plants. Ever wonder what the purple part of the garden is as you fly by on Neyland Drive? That’s the kitchen garden.
The UT Gardens were established in 1983 by the UT Department of Plant Sciences. Apparently, gardeners know that Tennessee is one of the most challenging places to grow a garden because of the extreme summer heat and humidity combined with variable winters where plants experience repeated freezing and thawing. The test gardens at UT help determine for leading seed and plant companies what plants ultimately will perform well enough to reach the commercial market.
The theme of this year’s Gardens Gala fundraiser was “A Rainbow of Iris.” As part of the program, Tom Parkhill, a Tennessee tall-bearded iris breeder, was honored. Parkhill lives and breeds plants in Knoxville’s Island Home neighborhood and has introduced 19 new varieties of iris into the gardening community.
And the party was pretty great, too!
This little water garden was very relaxing.
Iron roses in the rose garden.
Sweet petunias in stunning pots lined the stairs down to the party site.
Ben and Sara Hedstrom Pinnell were checking out the gardens, as well.
Very inviting setting.
HGTV Home is a major sponsor of the UT Gardens this year and was a presenting sponsor of the Gardens Gala. These Arcada yellow begonias from the HGTV Home plant collection were waiting to be planted in the shade garden.
I loved this cute vine heart that marked the kitchen garden.
The chives were thriving.
As was the parsley.
Isn’t this an interesting display in the bioenergy garden?
Alan decided to relax a moment before we headed to the party tent and the silent auction.
This is Alan’s favorite flower. What a stunner.
The party was in full swing when we got to the silent auction tent.
The buffet table of appetizers was bountiful. I loved that the crudites were served in little flower pots.
John Gill and Margie Nichols are major garden lovers.
Jackie Wilson and Dr. Alan Solomon both have fabulous gardens.
From left, James Newburn, assistant director of the UT Gardens, Jessyca Williams, Bill Pittman and Tina Rolen.
Betsey Bush, left, with Sara and Jack Rose.
Music was by the UT Faculty Jazz Trio. From left, Taylor Coker, Keith Brown and Mark Boling.
Vern Yip, center, of HGTV was the keynote speaker. He’s with Sam Adams and Jean Hulsey.
This is Karen Ellis showing off the evening’s signature cocktail called, appropriately, “The Bearded Iris.”
It contains 1-1/2 ounces Absolute Citron vodka and 1/2 ounce of Monin lavender syrup. Yum.
This is a sight you want to see at a UT event! Carol Costello is a professor in the UT Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management who teaches culinary, wine and beer courses. She’s awesome.
Some of the passed appetizers. Don’t they look great?
Alan, right, with Morton and state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey.
UT President Joe DiPietro with Angela Sebby.
When we moved to the dinner tent, we found these gorgeous salads. Have you ever seen one so colorful?
All the centerpieces were different.
Everyone got packets of beautiful note cards to take home.
Tony and Tonja Johnson
Take one look at the size of this entree and you’ll know we didn’t leave hungry.
Betsey Creekmore, left, with Fay Bailey.
From left, Patrick Kelly, Robyn Ulrich and Karen Ellis.
Riley and Pandy Anderson.
Vern Yip with Candy and UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington. Yip was a pre-med major and two weeks shy of entering medical school when he decided to become an interior designer instead.
Alan’s favorite course.
Norman Hammett and Lisa Stearns.
Auctioneer Bear Stephenson always gets chuckles — and lots of cash.
Andrea Cartwright and Dr. Alan Solomon.
Fran Scheidt, left, and Mary Mishou.
James Newburn and Jimmy Brimer at the end of a successful event.
If you like plants and gardens, this is the place to be. Bear Stephenson did a great job with the auction.
Or if you like huge bugs, as Alan apparently does!
That may be the most beautiful salad I’ve ever seen. Love the photo of the redwood bench and the blue pots. We don’t have a garden, but that’d look pretty nice in the mews.
About the Author
What You’re Saying
My Favorite Blogs