Dogwood Arts Festival 2013: The secret beauty of Open Gardens


Yes, it’s true.  I write this blog from Knoxville, Tennessee — home of the Dogwood Arts Festival.  So, of course, I’m biased.  But if you’re ever in Knoxville at festival time, you’ll agree with me:  Spring shows off its finery nowhere better during this puttin’-on-the-pastels time of year!

Several years ago, my husband and I lived in Deane Hill subdivision (designated an official Dogwood Arts Festival Garden Byway). We had passed by the home of J. D. “Bud” and Carolyn Mynatt often but never stopped in to see their Open Garden during festival time.  This year, however,  we put it on our don’t-miss list and entered a beautiful secret backyard haven that the Mynatts have tended for more 34 years!


We sauntered past the white mounds of candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) lining front flower beds along with the statuary and mixed pots Carolyn has added. Then we headed to the back yard.


When Bud saw us, he came down the back steps as the Southern gentleman he is to welcome us to his private garden.  We shook hands, introduced ourselves, and then asked him to take us on a tour — which he did willingly.  He told us that he has recently turned 90, but he still maintains the garden.

However, he said, I did have to hire someone to spread 15 yards of mulch this year.  (No apologies needed here.  We can’t spread mulch at all!)

Bud Mynatt, on right, shares the history of the garden with Bert.

Bud Mynatt, on right, shares the history of the garden with Bert.

Bud and Carolyn bought the house and the overgrown lot with only five maples and a magnolia on the property in 1976 and began the work of clearing, planting, pruning, and showcasing. Bud mostly does the gardening and maintenance.  Carolyn is the design lady!

We admired the dogwoods just eeking out those creamy blooms . . .


and the Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) climbing gracefully over the deck at the rear of the house.


Bud was proud of this colorful pink Chinese fringe (Loropetalum chinense) . . .


and the profusion of blooms on the endless clumps of Lenten roses (Helleborus orientalis).


Well-fed koi swam innocently around and around the lower levels of the bubbling pond, but we noticed a wire mesh covering over all.  Bud sadly explained: I had to cover the pond with wire ’cause big Blue Herons were swooping down and snatching my fish. (Guess herons can’t resist free food any more than humans can!)


The backyard showstopper for us was this Southern magnolia towering over the two men.  That tree was probably planted about fifty years ago, Bud told us. And it’s one of the few remaining plants we found when we bought the place.  (I’m no expert, but this looks like a prize-winner.)

We said good-bye to this dedicated gardener, and, on our way out, noted a pair of angels pondering a fitting quote for the Mynatts’ garden.

IMG_8768We love touring Knoxville’s Open Gardens.  But we’re especially fond of meeting residents like Bud and Carolyn Mynatt who take pride in their special place!

Click here for more information on Knoxville’s Dogwood Arts Festival.

Click here for a listing of Open Gardens available for viewing until april 28th.

2013 Dogwood Arts Festival

602 S. Gay Street, Mezzanine Level

Knoxville, TN 37902


18 thoughts on “Dogwood Arts Festival 2013: The secret beauty of Open Gardens

  1. Easter Ellen

    I wish I lived (a lot) closer to enjoy this wonderful time!
    It is still so cold that the furnace is on here, but we are expecting very warm weather here in Toronto tomorrow. (finally)

    1. Rusha Sams

      We have lovely spring weather, and the “green” is now everywhere. But you live in a place I would like to visit someday, too. That’s the beauty of travel!

      1. Easter Ellen

        I just posted some pictures with a poem of flowers that I saw as I was driving last week. It got cold again, but today seems very lovely. 🙂

  2. adventures

    Have you been to the botanical gardens? If you haven’t, it’s a must see! Especially during the spring. It’s on the east side of Knoxville, but it’s always free and open to the public. I’ve taken my boys there several times to walk the 100s of acres and take flower pictures. I’m no advertiser, just a fellow Knoxvillian 🙂

    1. Rusha Sams

      I went to the Botanical Gardens for a wedding, which was beautiful, by the way. I need to go this spring and check out the beautiful plantings. Thanks for reminding me of the terrific place to see right in my own hometown! And thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. cmmoxley

    The Dogwood Arts Festival used to have a slogan something like “The Best 15 Days of Spring in America.” I loved that and think it is so true. Only I’m glad it’s longer than 15 days now! Great garden.


    Great story and very nice photos Rusha. We don’t get many dogwoods on St. Simons Island, but they’re always a great sign of spring. And Bud looks pretty spry for 90 … good for him. ~James

  5. FreeRangeCow

    Oh boy! We don’t get Dogwoods in our neck of the woods…or Magnolias. Somehow, although I find beauty in sagebrush, I feel cheated! ;oD Thank heavens for the Inter-Tube-Netty thing, though!

    1. Rusha Sams

      The internet is connecting me to your world and lots of others! And don’t put down sagebrush. It’s new and interesting to me! Thanks for reading.

      1. Bob Jarrett

        I just started reading your stuff. This is great. Keep traveling and writing.

      2. Rusha Sams

        So glad to have you aboard. We’re having fun with our travels and the resulting blog. But it’s readers that make it worthwhile! Hope you are doing well. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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