Bradford Robertson Color Garden
In celebration of Cheekwood’s 60th anniversary as a public institution, we’re highlighting one of our 12 distinct gardens each month to showcase our wide variety of garden offerings. With 55 acres of rolling hills and 12 intricate, unique gardens, there’s something for everyone to experience and love at Cheekwood.
The Bradford Robertson Color Garden exhibits a seasonal rotation of color displays and is the showpiece of Cheekwood’s seasonal festivals. Situated to the right of Botanic Hall and the first garden that most guests experience upon their arrival, this garden is a vital part of Cheekwood’s welcoming committee.
Whether a sea of candy-toned tulips or warm-colored mums greet guests upon their arrival, it’s always an impressive experience. The summer display extends over four months, allowing the garden team to present the public with show-stopping tropical plants as well as the most current trends in horticulture and garden design. In the winter, though plant display may be limited to flora such as pansies and ornamental kale, Holiday LIGHTS gives the space a festive liveliness. By giving context to the time of year, its exuberant plant material and meandering path lead guests to a walk beneath a set of verdant arches, this garden sets a hospitable tone for the entire visit.
Naud Burnett, a landscape architect of Dallas, Texas, designed the highly maintained Bradford Robertson Color Garden, which was installed in 1998. Burnett is also responsible for the Margaret Elizabeth Jonsson Color Garden located at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Both sites feature an abundance of spring and summer flowering trees and shrubs, walking paths that allow closer inspection of plant material, as well as seating areas to encourage rest, reflection, and conversation.
The Color Garden at Cheekwood was established in honor of Eva Jo Robertson, a lifelong gardener and supporter of Cheekwood, by her daughter Tooty Bradford. Now Eva’s granddaughter and namesake, Eva Jo Bradford, adores the garden and considers it her very own.
The highly variable plant installations seen in Bradford Robertson Color Garden noticeably enhance the ecological activity at Cheekwood. The garden’s rotating and dynamic summer displays are a haven for a variety of pollinators, particularly the gulf fritillary and sachem butterflies. Surrounded by the towering exfoliating bark of crape myrtle, accented with clipped boxwoods and the large flowers of mallow (Hibiscus) and sunflowers, the Bradford Robertson Color Garden provides an ideal setting for outdoor sculpture exhibitions. The most notable artists who have displayed here in recent years are Dale Chihuly (2010 and 2020), Jaume Plensa (2015), and Steve Tobin (2016).
A great deal of creativity, planning, and growing goes into the exciting and unique seasonal planting designs and a diligent team executes the speedy seasonal exchanges. As spring transitions into summer and summer into fall, the botanical garden continues to deliver innovative displays for the Bradford Robertson Color Garden. Always in tune with the season and inspired by concurrent art exhibitions and programming, the annual plantings are carefully chosen to wow and welcome visitors to Cheekwood.