UT Gardens endures pandemic setbacks, encourages visitors
JACKSON, Tenn. — Preparing flower beds at UT Gardens in Jackson usually starts at the beginning of May, but because of rain, cold weather and COVID-19, they’ve been delayed.
“We lost all of our volunteers, which we depend heavily on, the Master Gardeners,” said Jason Reeves, Research Horticulturist.
They usually have 15 volunteers that put in 120-140 hours of work every week, from March until May, to get the gardens ready for the summer. Now it’s just Jason, his assistant and four student workers.
“We’re definitely behind on planting the gardens, but that’s not a bad thing,” Reeves said. “We’ve got plenty of time and it means the gardens will look good further into the fall.”
UT Gardens is also known for their Master Gardener sale each spring and fall. Those sales usually gross between $70,000 and $80,000, but because of coronavirus, this year’s spring sale has been canceled.
“We’re fortunate a couple nurseries, Green Valley Farms and Morris Nurseries, are carrying some of our plant material. They took it off our hands,” Reeves said.
Reeves says if you’re looking for candlestick plants or warrior onions, you can find them there, but he says nursery sales have been great since so many people are staying at home.
“If this is the year to organic garden, this should be the year because you can go out there and pick those bugs off and pick those weeds out by hand because you’ve got the time,” Reeves said.
But despite those setbacks, the UT Gardens here in Jackson is thriving, and you’re able to come and walk through. They ask if you do come, to adhere to social distancing guidelines. They’re open from sunrise to sundown every day.
This year’s fall Master Gardener sale is set for October 1.