Residence Kitchen and Cutting Garden

The Kitchen and Cutting Garden at the Tennessee Residence

What exactly is a Kitchen and Cutting Garden?  In the 1920s and 1930s people everywhere grew their own fruits and vegetables just outside their kitchen door. Citizens in the United States had been urged to grow their own vegetable gardens, especially during World War I and World War II, to increase food production during war time. These gardens became known as Victory Gardens. It was considered patriotic to have a vegetable garden of your own as you were doing
your part with helping in the wars.

The Kitchen and Cutting Garden was added to the Tennessee Residence in 2013 as part of the landscape restoration project implemented by First Lady Haslam. It was designed in a Colonial Revival style to match how a garden would have looked at the time that the Residence was built. Well-defined paths guide visitors through the garden as they explore the 10 garden beds in 2,800 square feet of garden space. The main focal point is the Armillary Sundial in the center of the garden. The Armillary Sundial was designed and constructed by Jim Masterson of the Metal Museum in Memphis, and includes several of our Tennessee state symbols including the mockingbird, tomato, Tulip Poplar leaf and Eastern Box turtle. It was a winning design in a competition held by the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The Kitchen and Cutting Garden grows fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers seasonally for guests of the Tennessee Residence to enjoy and it also serves as an educational demonstration garden for our student visitors. School groups have the unique opportunity to participate in a hands-on activity like planting radish seeds, pulling carrots, or planting basil. There's always an activity for our special helpers in the garden. The Executive Chef of the Tennessee Residence uses fruits and vegetables harvested out of the garden in meals for Residence guests. Fresh flowers bring a piece of the garden inside through creative floral arrangements.

 Tennessee Residence Kitchen and Cutting Garden Facts:

·        It was added to the Tennessee Residence in 2013 with 10 beds in 2,800 square feet.

·        Crops are planted in the spring, summer, and fall. Many of the crops that are planted are heirloom varieties and others that were popular in the 1930s.

·      Companion plants like sweet basil or marigolds are planted to help keep bugs and pests away from our crops.

·        After the crops are harvested, they are weighed and recorded for the yearly harvest totals.

·        In the northeast corner of the garden includes four compost bins where we put our garden scraps are broken down
into compost to be add to the garden beds.

·        In 2015, the garden was awarded 1st place in the Best Demonstration Garden category of the International Master Gardener Association.

The Greenhouse

After research discovered that the Wills family has a greenhouse, the original foundation of the greenhouse was located and used as a key component of the garden restoration project.  The new greenhouse reflects the Residence’s architectural style and is located in the same spot as the original greenhouse once stood. It is mainly used to start seedlings for the garden as well as to store plants in the winter months. 


Nothing says spring quite like the iconic bright yellow of daffodil or buttercup blooms. Over 64,000 daffodils bloom in
the front lawn along South Curtiswood Drive during the spring months of March and April. The daffodils were planted by the Tennessee Residence Staff and a team of students from Fairview High School and Fairview Middle School. Each planter made sure that the bulbs were planted correctly with the buds up and roots down. The 64,000 daffodils are Narcissus ‘Thalia’, Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’, and Narcissus ‘Hillstar’ which are the ideal daffodils for planting in mass. Each cultivar blooms at 3 different times during the spring, allowing for daffodil blooms all throughout the season.