Mix gardens, wine, markets & music in West Tennessee
With worm holes and spider webs to crawl, forts to construct and engineered rain showers (complete with a thunderous soundtrack), “My Big Backyard” inside Memphis Botanic Garden makes the garden awesomely kid-friendly.
The reality of living near such a remarkable outdoor play space is that my garden “walks” typically break into runs as I work to keep pace with my child’s imagination and frolicking.
To my surprise, I found the antidote to these frenzied-fun family days within the same garden: at a Tuesdays on the Terrace Wine Tasting, in the company of 21-and-ups and after hours, when “My Big Backyard” sprawls, sleeping, in the distance. The Tuesday we attended, we milled around the herb garden sampling as many of the eight wines as we wished, nibbling on food provided by local restaurants…chasing nothing but the beverages.
Tuesdays on the Terrace Wine Tastings happen from 6 to 8 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month (February through October), so you have three chances to make one before the season ends: Aug. 27, Sept. 24 and/or Oct. 29. Each event takes on a theme (like “Spooky Spirits” in October), so expect wines or cocktails appropriately tailored. p.s. I’ve watched these events sell out, so snag tickets early ($25 for members; $35 for non-members; proceeds benefit the garden’s educational and horticultural programs).
There’s also time to catch a concert as part of Memphis Botanic Garden’s Live at the Garden series – go for The Band Perry (Aug. 23) or Foreigner (Sept. 20). And of course, my favorite farmers’ market continues at the garden through Oct. 30 (Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m.). Grab fresh-cut flowers from Whitton Farms, just-baked bread from Lady Bugg Bakery, an all-natural popsicle from Mama D’s or some heirloom tomatoes from Ripley Produce.
All this talk of wine and markets reminded me of some other events you need to know about:
- The West Tennessee Farmers’ Market in Jackson: I love receiving email updates on this one – the market has such a strong following, over 2,000 folks showed up one July weekend! Blend in with the locals as you consider Mr. Vann’s outdoor furniture and birdhouses, Jarred Farms’ sweet purple bell peppers and concessions from Mexican tamales to Holy Smokers’ barbecue. Email Nona Brummett (firstname.lastname@example.org) to subscribe to the email list, or follow the market on Facebook – you’ll get all the insider info like the recent freezing-and-canning special one peach farmer was offering ($10 for a half bushel!). The West Tennessee Farmers’ Market runs Tues.-Sat., 7 a.m.-4 p.m., with the highest concentration of vendors, concessionaires (and consumers) turning out on weekends.
- Old Millington Winery (30 minutes north of Memphis) just announced its fall music series. Sundays (Sept. 1-Oct. 27), pack your blanket, chairs and a picnic for these concerts nestled on the lawn between the grapevines and the winery’s cozy tasting room. You’ll pay a couple dollars for admission on entry, and chilled wine by the bottle will be available for purchase. (No outside wine or liquor is allowed, though winery owner Perry Welch, himself a “beer guy,” will let you bring your own beer for a few bucks.) Don’t miss your chance to hang on Perry’s farm with his ultra-cool dogs, Rosie and Millie, and hear local musicians like Nancy Apple – just be sure to call before you go as the weather can interfere. All concerts run 3-6 p.m. with the exception of Sept. 15’s Winestock III, a benefit concert for Memphis’ Church Health Center, which begins at 1 p.m.
What’s your favorite garden or winery in Tennessee? Tell me in the comments section below!