Bracken Foundation Children's Garden | Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
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Family-Friendly Fun

The Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden is beautiful and horticulturally diverse, featuring numerous interactive features that are engaging for all audiences! Designed by Tres Fromme in collaboration with the local landscape architecture firm HDLA, this space is truly a celebration of Cheekwood’s year-round beauty. This garden is fun for the whole family, and offers unique activities and fun ways to learn. With family-friendly surprises at every turn, like our Turtle Pond, spending a day in the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden is an experience your little ones will remember forever.

Come Outside And Play!

The Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden is a new and exciting permanent family feature, serving as a welcoming and accessible reflection of the estate and garden’s unique offerings of gardens, nature, art, and history.

The new two-acre Children’s Garden is situated between the Howe Garden and the Frist Learning Center, and is intended to be evocative of the historic estate. Paying homage to Bryant Fleming’s inspiration for the original design of Cheekwood, the Children’s Garden incorporates a series of connected garden rooms amid a woodland setting, alongside an open lawn with multiple occasions to experience scenic vistas, characteristic of a Country Place Estate.

The historic formality of the featured buildings, walls of stone, and landscape accents set within a naturalistic scope fully honors Fleming’s vision. The brick and stucco construction of the Studio Pavilion, with its triangular gabled roof and round portal windows, is presented in direct dialogue with the architectural styling of the First Learning Center, the original garage and stable complex. The central water axis found in the Children’s Garden, originating from an overflowing fountain and dissolving as the watercourse flows through a stream and series of ponds is precedented by Cheekwood’s historic water feature progression beginning at the Swan Fountain.

The art of horticulture is prominently featured throughout the children’s garden and design cues are borrowed from the other spaces it borders. Within areas where the planting design is grounded by a native palette, an indication of the relationship to the Howe Garden is showcased. The incorporation of dogwoods and smaller shade perennials is a direct correlation to the Carell Dogwood and Burr Terrace Gardens. Other portions within the Children’s Garden are brilliantly composed of ornamental design married with ultimate botanical interest.

Turtles literally come alive in the turtle pond, where Cheekwood partners with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to maintain a sanctuary for native turtles confiscated from the illegal pet trade. Cheekwood’s permit allows the institution to serve as a rehabilitation center to these turtles, ensuring that the animals have every need met by a well-trained and knowledgeable staff with a background in zoological studies who also oversees the Children’s Garden.

Designed for the young and young at heart, the Children’s Garden is a safe place for all to enjoy, whether through play and discovery or through a peaceful moment on a garden bench.

Photos courtesy of Mary Craven Photography. 


We have over 20 turtles living in the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden! The Barbara & Rick Turner Family Turtle Pond  has been thoughtfully designed in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The Turtle Pond allows visitors to safely view these magnificent reptiles in their stunning new habitat. The Turtle Pond serves as a sanctuary for native turtles confiscated from the illegal pet trade.

Cheekwood Turtle
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