Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden

Bracken Foundation Children's Garden

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. 

Support the Children’s Garden

Bracken Foundation Children's Garden features:

• Sherri & Barry Stowe Little Woods

• Barbara & Rick Turner Family Turtle Pond

• The Ayers Foundation Wishing Well

• Grandy Scarlett Studio Pavilion

• James, Madeleine & Ainsley Byrd Labyrinth Glade

• Karyn (KK) M. Frist Creek Crossing

• PNC Living Library

• The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial Creek

• First Horizon Performance Stage

• Secret Passageway

• Garden Sculptures created by Ring Studio, Nick & Christine Ring, made possible by the Sandra Schatten Foundation

• Huddleston Family Duck Puddle

• Pamela K. & Philip M. Pfeffer and Pfeffer Foundation Tea House

• Ashley & Harrison Frist and Elizabeth & Bryan Frist Rolling Lawn

• Lucianne & Toby Wilt and Family Woodland Ramble

• Jamee & De Thompson and Margaret & John Thompson Sensory Walk

• Jimmy Webb Family Serpentine Stroll

• Jane’s Wishing Walk

• Joellyn & Eric Helman Balcony Mezzanine

• J.L. Holloway Willow Thicket

• Shaun & Gordon Inman Tennessee Woodland Walk

• R. Milton Johnson Family Water Paintings

• Connie & Carl Haley Hungry Hedgerow

• Bentley Family Digging Quarry

• Story Tree

• Kailey & JR Hand Family Fairy Garden

• HCA Healthcare Plaza

• Anne & Joe Russell Family Lily Pool

• Paisley Family Water Painting

• Crumbo Family Art Studios

• Andrew & Cannon Frankenberg Little Adventure Path


Turtle in the Bracken Foundation Children's Garden at Cheekwood

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.

Learn more

Tots! Virtual

Tots! Online Activities

As Cheekwood’s Tots! program is temporarily suspended, we are sharing activities for parents and tots to activate at home. Use our files to create your own art projects at the link below!

Virtual Tots

Coloring Sheets

We hope your children can enjoy some creative time from home. Download one of our educational coloring sheets below, and use #CheekwoodTots for your chance to have your budding young artist featured!

Daffodil   Hyacinth   Tulip   Pansy  Earth Day Pledge  World Turtle Day

Make a Reading Fort

Have your children get creative and make a reading corner decorated in their own style by following instructions on how to make a reading fort. Learn more and find additional resources at the link below!

Tots! Now Tuesday through Saturday

With the introduction of the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden, Cheekwood’s primary pre-kindergarten program, Tuesdays for Tots, has been expanded into Tots! Now Tuesday through Saturday. Presented in partnership with PNC Bank, drop-in activities include hands-on art and garden projects and storytime to promote reading and literacy.

Drop-in art and garden activities | 10 AM – 12 PM
Curiosity Cart | 10 AM – 12 PM
Storytime| 10:30 AM, 11 AM, 11:30 AM

Not sure where the group will be or uncertain about the weather? Just give us a call at 615-353-9827 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions. Don’t forget to bring your imagination and dress for mess!

Tots! Now Tuesday through Saturday is free with general admission or membership.

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