On Easter Sundays, my mom always wanted to take photos of my brother and me all dressed up. in front of some gorgeous, blooming azaleas. The only problem? There weren’t any of those in our yard. So every year, she would drive us around until we found an appropriate photo setting.
There were several years when we wound up at Oaklawn Garden in Germantown.
Oaklawn Garden is part front yard, part botanic garden and part suburban history museum. The garden sits on property that’s been owned by the Cloyes family since 1854. Currently, the garden is maintained by 83 year-old Harry Cloyes and his wife Becky. He was born in the house that sits on the property and has spent his life gardening and collecting and preserving historical artifacts.
When I arrived at Oaklawn, I was greeted by Mr. Cloyes, who was tooling around the driveway on a three-wheeled bicycle. He handed me an oversized brochure with a list of all of the artifacts on the property and their historical significance and pointed me down a brick path.
On the property, there’s very little divide between natural and man-made. Antique signs sit in azalea groves and a basket of fake flowers sits next to lush live bushes. The collection of artifacts is stunning. Mr. Cloyes has the first jail cell used in Germantown (a depressing little red metal shack), a train caboose, farm implements, gas pumps, lamp posts, and stop lights.
Oaklawn is one of Shelby County’s great quirky beauties. It’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch, take some photos, or explore. Right now, dozens of azalea bushes, irises, and honeysuckle bushes are in bloom.
Oaklawn Garden is open daily from dawn until dusk. It’s free to the public, though donations to help the Cloyes’ with their preservation efforts are appreciated.
7831 Old Poplar Pike
Germantown, TN 38138