About Us Gardens And Arboretum
Elmwood Cemetery is a place of natural beauty. It was founded in 1852 as a part of the Rural Cemetery Movement, which embraced the idea that cemeteries should conform to the landscape. The cemetery was designed with majestic old trees, seasonal and perennial plantings, and shady spots in mind.
The cemetery is home to almost 1,500 trees. It is a Tennessee Urban Forestry Department Level II Arboretum, and many of its trees are tagged with scientific and common names. There are both self-guided and docent-led Arboretum Tours available for children and adults alike; email Kelly Sowell at historian [at] elmwoodcemetery [dot] org for more details about these tours.
Three formal gardens are located at Elmwood.
The McCallum Garden
Located next to the Victorian Cottage, this beautiful cottage garden features brick pathways within a wrought iron fence. With its shady crepe myrtles, roses, native vines, forget-me-nots, perennials and many other pass along plants, it is an inspiration to cottage gardeners.
The McCallum Garden was donated to Elmwood by the late Virginia and Robert McCallum.
The Miller Garden
The Miller Garden welcomes guests into Elmwood as they enter the cemetery across the arched bridge. The bridge is framed on either side by seasonal color and lovely shady retreats. The garden features azaleas, boxwoods, hostas, hydrangeas, lilies, ferns and a variety of trees including ginkgos, hollies, maples, cherries, and oaks.
The Miller Garden was donated to Elmwood by Cathy and Joseph Miller.
The Butterfly Garden
Located behind the Victorian Cottage, this garden continues the theme of sun-loving perennials with butterfly-attracting plants such as butterfly bush, zinnias, liatris, phlox, passion flowers, dill, fennel, and cone flowers.
The Butterfly Garden features picnic tables and a clematis-covered arbor. Restrooms and a water fountain are located next to the Butterfly Garden, which makes this area a perfect spot for tour groups to congregate for picnic lunches after a walk about the grounds.
Carlisle S. Page Arboretum
Elmwood contains one of the major stands of old forest growth trees left in Memphis. The trees of Elmwood have always played a major part in the development of the cemetery grounds, which were largely situated around the already-present trees.
In the Elmwood 1874 book, Capt. Joseph Lenow writes:
"Feelings of pain akin to horror have been excited when lot-owners of Elmwood have proposed the removal of grand old trees, whose presence fills the place with solemn beauty. A moment's reflection presents the proposition in an aspect so repulsive that we are very sure it will never be executed."
Because of its importance as a tree collection, the cemetery was designated as a Level II Arboretum by the Tennessee Department of Urban Forestry in 1997.
Featuring almost 1,500 trees within 80 acres, hundreds of Elmwood's trees are labeled including one state champion tree, an Atlas Cedar.
In addition to the towering hardwoods, there is a large variety of ornamental trees including magnolias, dogwoods, crepe myrtles, redbuds, deciduous holly, and fruit trees that all bloom enthusiastically.
A memorial and honorarium tree planting program is now in place at Elmwood. To purchase a tree in the name of a loved one, please contact us.
Don't miss this opportunity to see large mature trees and witness their beauty in all seasons. The Arboretum is an island of nature within the city. The staff of Elmwood has created an Arborteum Tour that is suitable for people of all ages. Email us for pricing and information on how to take advantage of this tour.