The West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is home to the UT Gardens-Jackson. In addition to the Jackson location, the UT Gardens can be found at the UT Institue of Agriculture campus in Knoxville and the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville. The UT Gardens mission is to cultivate an appreciation of plants through horticultural displays, educational programs and research. In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill designating the UT Gardens as the official botanical garden for Tennessee.
The idea for locating the UT Gardens Jackson at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center grew from a 1989 conversation between then Superintendent Dr. Jim Brown, and Dr. George Hopper, a UT Extension Forester. With the assistance of Dr. Don Williams, a plan was drawn and the project initiated.
The UT Gardens-Jackson continues to flourish under the guidance of Dr. Robert Hayes, Research Center Director, Carol Reese, Extension Area Specialist in Ornamental Horticulture, and Jason Reeves, Ornamental Horticulturalist. Since 2002, ornamental plant research has grown by leaps and bounds, creating a need to expand the gardens. UT Gardens-Jackson now includes a kitchen garden, a low-maintenance fruit demonstration orchard, annual and perennial displays, an All-American Selection display, heat tolerant and a witch-hazel (Hamamelis) and redbud (Cercis) collection. We were also recently named a Conifer Reference Garden by the American Conifer Society.
Visitors can also enjoy a no-spray rose research garden, courtyard garden, turf wheel, turf variety trials, compost display, plant screen demonstration, and a magnolia collection. In addition, the arboretum has long been an attraction to local children who collect leaves for school projects. More than 50 new species and cultivars of trees have been added to this collection in the last three years.
In 2008, several new projects were started. One is a "dry bed" consisting of several different genera of xerophytes, including many colorful sedums, succulents, yuccas and hardy agaves. An acidic-peat bog garden was created near the main office building containing several types of carnivorous plants, including pitcher plants (Sarracenia), sundews, and the infamous Venus Fly Trap. More than 75 new cultivars of daylilies were added to the garden in preparation for the Regional American Hemerocallis Daylily Society meeting that will be held in Jackson in 2010.
The Gardens are located around the office building area. Visitors are welcome during daylight hours all year long. Our website is ever evolving, so check back in soon for new pictures and updates.
Click here to see: UTIA Plant of the Month
Ornamental plant research has grown tremendously at the center. Many large seed and plug producers enlist UT's expertise in the assessment of the heat tolerance, flower production, plant uniformity, flower and plant size, pest resistance, and overall landscape appeal of their products. Climatic and environmental conditions can vary widely in Tennessee. Information collected provides comprehensive data on cultivar performance. Such information is important not only to the commercial sponsors of the research, but to in-state commercial growers, landscapers and gardeners as well. This research aids the economic growth of Tennessee's green industry and helps gardening remain a healthy and popular pastime.
Ornamental research has also grown to include pumpkins, as these vegetables have become very popular in autumn displays. Each year between 80 to 90 cultivars of pumpkins, gourds and winter squash are grown on two acres at the center. They are evaluated for characteristics such as disease and insect susceptibility, size, yield and storage longevity. The end product of these trials is used to create an original and magnificent display containing more than 5,000 pumpkins. The Pumpkin Harvest Display has made national headlines and attracts hundreds of visitors.
Other Useful Links
Local Master Gardener Volunteers provide welcomed assistance with the implemenation and maintenance of the UT Gardens-Jackson. They also contribute greatly to UT's Summer Celebration Lawn & Garden Show by helping maintain the gardens.
Master Gardener Volunteers recently helped researchers pot more than 800 roses for WTREC No-Spray Rose Trials. See more pictures.
The West TN Research & Education Center staff thanks our 2014 donors!
Bailey Nurseries - http://www.baileynurseries.com
Corona - http://www.coronaclipper.com
Dramm - http://www.dramm.com
First Editions - http://www.firsteditionsplants.com
Florikan - http://florikan.com
Netherland Bulb Company - http://www.netherlandbulb.com
PanAmerican Seed - http://www.panamseed.com
Seedway Seed - http://www.seedway.com
Siegers Seed Company - http://www.siegers.com
Spring Meadow Nursery - http://springmeadownursery.com
Learn more about our sister garden in Knoxville!
The gardens are located around the office building area.
Visitors are welcome during daylight hours.