History of the Iris Garden at Ellington
Abbreviated version of article by Catherine Averitt
The Iris Garden at Ellington Agriculture Center was an answer to a dream, in 1984 after 2 years searching,
an ideal garden spot was found at the Agricultural Center of the State of Tennessee. It had once been a private estate.
Acreage was offered to the MTIS, to develop the iris beds.
When the Commissioner of Agriculture, William W. Walker granted permission,
the idea was presented to the Middle Tennessee Iris Society at their Oct meeting 1984.
The vote was unanimous and the project was on its way. A garden committee was formed to plan and develop the site.
In 1985 with no money to start the project letters were sent to people who had purchased Iris from the organization in years before.
The response from those letters requesting iris rhizomes for the garden was overwhelming.
We had help in designing the garden from a landscape architect with the grounds division and Bill Tolbert for the layout of the beds.
The initial plan was 10 iris beds in each of 2 sections.
A Gazebo was added in 1986 and in 1987 a pond was dug to create a pool to collect waters from two springs on the hillside to form
a lovely area for Japanese iris, which were donated by a Kentucky neighbor Rodger Donaldson.
The area now includes, Siberian, Louisiana and Spuria iris along with the Japanese iris near the Japanese Bridge at the pond.
Now many local groups, both youth and adult, enjoy the garden. There are weddings, receptions, special ceremonies,
and tours of the garden through the year.
“ Hopefully, the Iris Garden at Ellington will live long after those who planned, planted, and nurtured it are gone.
This garden will continue to give pleasure to those who visit, sit, and walk through the area and enjoy the flowers who
have been called ( GODESSES OF THE RAINBOW) .”
Tennessee State flower