Gardens and Arboretum


Nature Center butterfly gardenThanks to the hard work of a dedicated group of volunteers, we are fortunate to have wonderful gardens around the Nature Center. The back (lake side) of the building is graced with a dramatic butterfly garden, recently refurbished by the Washington County VA Master Gardeners and now certified by Monarch Watch as a Monarch Waystation. In addition, we are now revising and expanding our wildflower garden into an educational native plants garden, to complement the new native plants exhibit inside the Nature Center. Recently we received recognition by the National Wildlife Federation for the Park as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.

Nature Center herb gardenVolunteers are always needed in the gardens to help with planting, weeding, marking plants, keeping up the native plants trail, etc.  All of the gardens are approved projects for Master Gardener volunteer hours.  You can work either evening hours or daytime hours.  In addition, garden workdays are scheduled from time to time throughout the growing season, from early spring through the fall.   Gardening expertise isn’t necessary; all that’s needed is the interest and enthusiasm to enjoy the out of doors and the willingness to get a little dirty.

Nature Center wildflower garden

 If you’d like to help out with any aspect of our garden projects, please let us know by e-mailing us at


 Steele Creek Park Arboretum

With the help of generous donations of many of our members and supporters, Steele Creek Park’s tree trail is certified as a registered arboretum in the state of Tennessee.  The trail begins near the picnic area along Steele Creek where it enters the Park, and follows the paved path toward the knobs.  Currently, more than 30 different species of trees are included. Serviceberry arboretum sign

Other regional arboretums are located on the campuses of King College and East Tennessee State University and at Sycamore Shoals State Park.  Two special aspects of our arboretum are particularly noteworthy.  First, in keeping with the current philosophy of the park staff to focus on native flora and fauna, all of the species of trees are native to northeast Tennessee.  In addition, each tree has its own large interpretive sign.  In the future, we would like to develop a printed guide providing more detailed information about the trees.

Our thanks to the many donors who have helped to create and maintain this important educational feature.

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