The owners of this beautiful property located off of Asheville Highway love to share plants with friends and neighbors, and they receive many unusual and interesting plants in return. Their talent for painting wonderful compositions using many diverse cultivars will have you taking notes for your own garden wish list. They have chosen varieties not only for their complementary colors but also for their varying sizes and differing foliage shapes to achieve a wonderful balance throughout the garden.

Several islands of trees, shrubs and perennials are scattered throughout the lawn. You will come across many water features, such as a toppled pottery jar with water flowing out that creates the illusion that it just tipped over.

In the center of the backyard, the couple has created a koi pond that is deep enough so that animal predators do not disturb the colorful fish. The pond and small stream have been planted with aquatic plants, grasses and tropicals to look as though they occurred naturally.

The most outstanding feature in this garden is the long curving border that defines one side of the property. A succession of small garden rooms has been created, each with an individual theme. The rooms have been composed with a background of oak leaf hydrangeas, a live oak, crepe myrtles and holly trees. Some of the rooms have seating where the visitor can pause to admire the individual plants up close. Shade loving perennials thrive underneath the canopy of the trees, and the edges of the border are full of sun-loving shrubs, perennials and annuals that provide year-long color and interest to the garden.

Much of the statuary, parts of a fence and other structures are discarded antiques the owners have rescued, refurbished and given a new home in their garden. Some of the walkways were made from bricks taken from an old building slated for demolition. You will be awestruck by the creativity and energy of this couple who celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last year.

Hosts are Ray and Mae Sims, Christine Griffin and Debbie Allen.

The 2007 series of Secret Garden Parties are held at gardens that have never been open to visitors for our benefit before. All garden parties are fund-raising events and proceeds go directly to the University of Tennessee Gardens. All costs of events are borne by the hosts and sponsors, without whom these events would not be possible. The value of each event exceeds its ticket cost, so purchases cannot be considered a contribution for tax purposes. An asterisk (*) indicates that the event occurs in that host's home.

Reservations can be made by sending the order form by mail with check or by Pay Pal online at Tickets $20 per person are strictly limited in number and are on a first-come, first-served basis and are not confirmed until payment is received

Open to the public without admission charge every day year-round since 1983, the University Gardens now serve an estimated 50,000 visitors annually.  Over 1,000 woody plants are under long term observation and 2,000 varieties of annual herbaceous plants comprise the primary collections of this 10-acre urban public garden in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Friends of the University of Tennessee (UT) Gardens is a 700-member nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1992 whose mission is to advocate,  promote and raise  funds for the Gardens from citizens on the university campus, in the community, and across the state. 

For more information about the Gardens and Friends, call 865-525-4555 or email [email protected] or visit  You may also contact Theresa Pepin, Executive Director, at 865-573-0445 or 865-382-4226.

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