Due to a generous donation in the early 1980’s from the Carell family, a trend of collecting dogwoods at Cheekwood was established and has continued, culminating in the recognition by the American Public Garden’s Plant Collection Network in 2012. Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is proud to be among a prestigious group of gardens and arboreta that have committed themselves to the conservation and care of specific plant collections, managed at the highest professional level. This recognition is not only a reflection of the long-term commitment to the conservation and care of dogwoods, but another important step in growing Cheekwood’s reputation as one of the country’s most beautiful gardens in North America.
As of December 2021, the dogwood collection features a total of 326 individuals, representing 14 different species, and 7 hybrids. There is particular emphasis placed on varieties exhibiting superior bloom, foliage, growth habit, hardiness, vigor, along with disease and insect resistance. Cheekwood primarily focuses on collecting Cornus florida cultivars of Tennessee provenance, followed by hybrids developed at Rutgers University. In the United States, Tennessee, specifically middle Tennessee, ranks first in dogwood production. Currently, 26 different cultivars of C. florida can be found throughout the property.
Cheekwood has a well-developed Plant Collections Policy and expanding the Cornus Collection remains the most important collecting mission. Cheekwood’s dogwoods have historically been planted within the Carell Dogwood Garden, established in 1982, soon after Ann and Monroe Carell donated the original sum of dogwoods to Cheekwood. Newer garden expansions have given the institution an opportunity to express the dogwood collection throughout the property. Presently, there is not a garden at Cheekwood without at least one dogwood. Expanding the parameters of the dogwood collection has allowed for continuous augmentation.