Sigourney Cheek Literary 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 literary garden pays tribute to the late Sigourney Cheek, a lifelong learner, inspirational spirit, author, and avid gardener. Designer, Ben Page, drew inspiration from Sigourney’s personal garden at her Nashville home, Honeywood. This garden, which opened on May 17, 2012, serves as a place to seek solace and become inspired by embracing poetry, book readings, writing, and reflective thought at literary events.
Sigourney loved Nashville deeply and supported many local not-for-profit institutions. In 1989 she co-founded Nashville’s Antique and Garden Show, and soon after served as Chairman of the Board of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art. Her own garden was a testament to her love of gardening and is listed as “an important American Garden” at The Smithsonian Institution.
The use of iconic antique imagery was meaningful to Sigourney Cheek. In the literary garden, visitors will find a fifteenth-century French tub, which features a nineteenth-century beer tap. An owl, carved from solid stone by Charlie Hunt of Hunt Memorials of Nashville, was moved from Sigourney’s home garden. Two patinaed, repurposed nineteenth-century planters were originally the capitals on columns at an old courthouse in Mississippi.
Cheekwood continues to evolve the horticulture of this site to respond to the warm microclimate generated by the western exposure of the limestone retaining wall. Espalier plants and vines will flourish here, softening the limestone perimeter. Hardy dry land plants, subtly evocative of a Mediterranean climate, will thrive within this nook set above the surrounding terrain and reach back to Sigourney Cheek’s love for the country of Spain.
From the elevated perspective of the Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden, visitors can view the serene topography and enjoy the best vantage of the setting sun on the estate. Providing dappled shade during the summer and a sunny oasis in the winter, the space is designed to promote mindfulness and encourage visitors to sit down and linger with nature.