Bryant Fleming designed Cheekwood to respond to its natural environment and surrounding landscape. The integral role of the landscape to the design of the Estate is best exemplified through its many vistas, water features, and historic gardens.
View of the house from the front gate c. 1933 / Collection of Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art Archives
Fleming designed the house to have six major vistas — three of which remain unencumbered by plant growth and urban development. Two vistas focus on the views of the house — one from the front gate and along the driveway, and the second from the front lawn. As guests arrived at the front gate and drove along the non-linear path to the house, they would see glimpses of the house through the trees until they reached the front lawn, where the house would fully reveal itself.
Three additional vistas frame views from the house out into the surrounding landscape. These views highlight the Estate’s proximity to the Warner Parks, whose preservation efforts have led to the retention of some of Cheekwood’s original vistas.
Reflecting Pool c. 1933 / Collection of Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art Archives
One of Mabel Cheek’s requests for the design of Cheekwood was to be able to hear the sounds of flowing water permeate throughout the grounds. Fleming took advantage of the land’s natural shifts in elevation when complying with Mabel’s ask. The water features, including the Swan Lawn fountain, Reflecting Pool, Titan’s Cup, and man-made creeks and ponds across the grounds, were originally connected with underground pipes and pumps — the water flowed from the Swan Fountain, sitting at the highest elevation on the grounds, to the Reflecting Pool and below.
Parterre Garden c. 1933 / Collection of Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art Archives
Other historic elements designed by Fleming are the styled gardens. These beauties encompass the Reflecting Pool, the Swan Lawn, and hybrid Parterre and cutting garden. While the Reflecting Pool and Swan Lawn still remain at Cheekwood, the Parterre cutting garden was removed in 1998.
An additional fixture of the Cheek residency is the boxwood collection that surrounds the house. Many of these boxwoods, originally collected by Leslie Cheek Sr., were the foundation of Cheekwood’s first horticultural plant collection. The blooms that inhabit these historic gardens are known as the Martin Boxwood Gardens today.