Southern Agenda

Coming Out of Their Shells

Illustration: Tim Bower

“On a spring day when everything is in bloom, you walk in the gates and are enveloped by color,” says Peter Grimaldi, the vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood, Nashville’s 1930s estate, botanical garden, and arboretum. In March, the property will kick off its eleventh annual Cheekwood in Bloom festival to herald the season’s arrival with some 250,000 blooms, among them tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, redbuds, and magnolias. Cheekwood also recently partnered with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to house native turtles, and twenty-four chelonians (another word for turtles)—including red-eared sliders, map turtles, and even a soft-shell turtle—will be enjoying the sun. “It’s the Ritz for turtles,” Grimaldi says of the pond in the Children’s Garden. “They’ll be swimming around and hanging out on logs, putting on a little show for everybody.”