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TN – UT Gardens, Crossville, The Plateau Discovery Gardens

The Plateau Discovery Gardens began in 2004 when Walt Hitch, the director of the Plateau Research and Education Center in Crossville Tennessee had a discussion with Gregg Upchurch, Agricultural Extension agent for the county.  He remarked that there were several choice acres of land right at the entrance to the Center that weren’t currently in use and that if the Cumberland County Master Gardeners would like to develop it into something horticulturally attractive and useful, he’d help us get started. Because the land is practically in his own backyard, he asked that we pledge to keep it looking nice. And with that, some eager beaver volunteers began mapping out a plan and a series of plots.

It was decided that as each new Master Gardener class graduated from their classroom requirements, they should enjoy the practical aspect of what they’d learned by planting some type of garden on one of these plots.  The first garden went in as simply an example of what shrubs and trees grow well on the Cumberland Mountain Plateau. That was in 2005. The next year’s class voted to show what perennial plants grow well here. And we were off and running with a bulb garden, a home landscape demonstration plot, lawn seed plot, etc.

Because the Research Center is a part of the University of Tennessee, a request came along for us to add several trial gardens to the area. We were quite happy to comply with the request as it helped to fill in open space and also, we’d get to keep the trees and shrubs as the trials were completed. Since then, the gardens have been home to an annual horticultural festival, kindergarten field trips, many informational classes, and spring plant sales.


Conifers have long been recognized as a perfect structure and garden staple, satisfying a permanent “bones” need in any landscape.  And indeed, that’s how we’ve used their great versatility and permanence in our many themed gardens. They bring different thoughts and possibilities together in a relaxing and cohesive tableau.  Therefore, you’ll find our friends, the Evergreens, gracing many of the different gardens within our overall acreage.

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