(We are re-publishing this post from 2015 since Dr. Solomon’s garden will be open for touring as a Dogwood Arts Featured Garden again this year, 2017. For more information on times and location, click here.)
Perhaps one of the most magnificent areas in the Knoxville area, Dr. Alan Solomon’s gardens opens up a forest of greenery in an elegant fairyland setting. More than 20 acres have been developed by Dr. Solomon who had little horticultural and landscaping experience prior to purchasing the land in 1971. Now, with the addition of hundreds of wildflowers, coniferous and deciduous trees, and native plantings combined with over 700 tons of rock forming streams and waterfalls, the garden is a blend of natural and planned landscaping in a lush secret garden setting. It’s no wonder that this Knoxville treasure, Dr. Solomon’s garden, has been included in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens,
As we arrived on the designated Dogwood Arts Featured Gardens visitation days, Dr. Solomon greeted each guest in the parking lot. And then in his soft-spoken voice, he directed the soon-to-be-amazed visitors to areas of interest, pointing the way on a carefully marked map he had designed. As we walked the property, tall trees formed archways through which we could look down and discover new areas. Waterfalls added sound to the otherwise quiet surroundings. And all our senses were restored by the peacefulness and natural beauty.
But there was also humor to be found in this stillness. Life-size frogs kept watchful eyes over the comings and goings of visitors or busied themselves with needed repairs.
The pinnacle of our tour, however, was the sight of Dr. Solomon’s home. Named GATOP (God’s Answer to Our Prayers), the vast hillside property and the craftsman-style home afford the owners a spectacular view from the front lawn. Artwork blends in — enhancing the view and offering new textures and forms to complement carefully planned areas.
It’s not hard to find solace here. But it’s also not difficult to see that the work of Dr. Solomon and many others have improved on the natural “good bones” of the land. In some places, we couldn’t decide if gardens were built around art or art was placed in a planned garden. We had no idea what came first. Nor did it matter. The whole was prettier than the sum of its parts.
After thanking Dr. Solomon for the opportunity to walk through the garden areas and stand quietly on his front porch, we asked if we could get a picture. The camera-shy garden enthusiast allowed us to snap him at play with the dogs who have traversed the land so often right alongside him. A beautiful day. In a beautiful setting. We felt grateful to have been there.
For more information on the Open Gardens and Featured Gardens during Dogwood Arts Festival 2015, click here.
For all of the posts on this year’s festival, click here.
This concludes our series on Dogwood Arts Festival 2015. We hope you enjoyed touring Knoxville at one of the prettiest times of the year. Please make plans to come see us in 2016 — the dogwoods and the arts and the gardens will be right here!
Bert and Rusha Sams