I’m a big fan of public green spaces. I always have been. That’s especially true when good horticulture is involved and that is exactly what’s going on at the Nashville Music Garden in downtown Nashville. Located just a block off of lower Broadway and directly across the street from both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Nashville Music Garden is the perfect marriage of two of my favorite things–gardening and music! What else?!?
Everyone knows that gardening is where I make my living. I wouldn’t be here writing to you if that wasn’t the case. What some of you might not know is that I’m also an avid music enthusiast–all kinds of music, country included. This obsession with music started at about the same time as my passion for gardening–age 3. I can remember even at that early age my grandfather picking me up in his arms and dancing me around the living room as Guy Lombardo played in the background. And I remember when my grandparents and their friends would still go out to “the club” on Saturday nights and dance the night away to the sounds of big band music and singers who could really sing.
These memories merge with memories of me collecting the “helicopters” that would twirl down out of the silver maples in the front yard at my babysitter’s home and that I knew, instinctively, that if I planted them they would grow. I don’t ever recall anyone saying to me “Those are seeds. Put them in the ground.” It was just something I did. Thirty-five years later there are still two silver maples (not the greatest tree, I know, but hey, I was THREE!) standing in my parents yard–the fruits of my young labor transplanted from the babysitter’s flower bed.
That short digression brings us back around to yesterday and the Nashville Music Garden, where horticulture and music meet again, as they have done throughout my life. In this relatively small plot of earth in downtown Nashville, a garden has grown; a garden that celebrates the music and the musicians of our city. Roses named ‘Barbara Mandrell’ and ‘Pam Tillis’ and ‘Dolly Parton’ and ‘Patsy Cline’, among others. There are also roses named after songs, like ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Butterfly Kisses’. In addition to the roses there are daylilies that also bear the names of people who have made a difference in the music world and in Music City.
So we filmed a short piece about this new Nashville Music Garden for our television show, Volunteer Gardener (http://www.volunteergardener.org/) and again, gardening and music came together. I had the distinct honor of being joined by one of my musical heroes–country music superstar and one of the newest inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Barbara Mandrell. It was because of Barbara that I chose to play the saxophone when I was only 9 years old and getting ready to start grade school band. I had seen her play it on television and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I had already started playing piano and the alto sax just seemed like a natural progression. I played all the way into college and I still play that saxophone today when the mood strikes, though I’m not nearly as good as I once was. Practice, practice, practice.
And so with Barbara Mandrell at my side, she and I showcased the history and the beautiful blossoms of the roses and daylilies in the Nashville Music Garden and once again gardening and music came together–me, the professional gardener and the hobby musician and Barbara, the professional musician and the hobby gardener. I am in awe that these two things keep coming together in my life and each day I wonder how they will merge and marry again.
Join Barbara and a host of other celebrities, along with yours truly, at the official dedication of the Nashville Music Garden on the morning of September 29, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. Everyone’s invited!