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Siler Garden, 2014-2015

Ferrell, E. V.
Coker, Gordon
Landscape architect:
Thurman, Jenny
Knoxville Garden Club
Physical description:
1 folder+ 28 digital images
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Tennessee, Knox, Knoxville
Siler Garden (Knoxville, Tennessee)
The 1935 residence was part of a subdivision developed by E. V. Ferrell starting in 1924 and advertised as a "utopian getaway." There were beautiful old azaleas on the 1.52 acre property when the current owners acquired the property in 1983, but those azaleas died in a hard freeze two years later. Over the next three decades the three vernacular gardens they installed have created the utopian getaway envisioned by the original developer. The front yard garden is a parkland with mature trees and shrubs, lawn, and swathes of liriope and Lenten rose with a pierced brick wall draped with ivy alongside the driveway. Along the house there are foundation plantings set off by a low brick wall with ornamental iron fencing. Behind the house the lawn is bisected by the pool plaza, with the garage at one end, an outdoor room for entertaining at the other end, and a pergola on the far side. A perennial border and planted squares add color to the hardscape surrounding the pool. A semi-circular slate deck overlooks a hillside garden that is known as the real garden with wide stone stairs leading through lush and colorful plantings to woodlands at the base of the property. That deck serves as the roof of the semi-circular garden shed, built from blocks and covered with stucco to look like a grotto tucked into the slope. The real garden area was a wasteland of overgrown vines, weeds, invasive plants, rotten landscape timbers and debris, and was tackled in ten to fifteen foot sections each year. Each stone in the retaining walls was laid by hand; a pond was tried out in three different locations. Some of the plants came from earlier family gardens, and there is an historic tree in the front yard.
Persons associated with the garden include Mr. and Mrs. N.E. Logan (former owners until 1929); Mrs. Edna Taylor Briscoe (former owner, 1929-1955); Mr. and Mrs. William Ernest Briscoe (former owners, 1955-1962); Mr. and Mrs. Rodman Townsend (former owners, 1962-1983); Gordon Coker (landscaper, 1993-2000); and Jenny Thurman (landscape architect, 2007).
The folder includes worksheets and other documentation.
Local number:
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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