Photo Opportunities Abound at Oaklawn Garden

Posted by Holly Whitfield | April 29th 2010 306 7

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, Germantown, Tenn.

Oaklawn Garden, Germantown, Tenn.

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.

Big weels, Oaklawn Garden, Germantown, Tenn.

Big weels, Oaklawn Garden, Germantown, Tenn.

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.

C.O. Franklin Park Sign, Oaklawn Garden, Germantown, Tenn.

C.O. Franklin Park Sign, Oaklawn Garden, Germantown, Tenn.

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.

Check out a full photo gallery from Oaklawn Garden.

Go There:

Oaklawn Gardens

7831 Old Poplar Pike
Germantown, TN 38138

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Lauren says:

    I’ve always wondered the story behind that place. I took some pictures around there during last year’s snow.

  2. MiMi says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I drive by there almost every day at least once and have wondered what it was. Now I know I can stop and visit!

  3. Michelle says:

    I love this place. I had my engagement photos taken there. It was fabulous!

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  6. […] Oaklawn Garden – Oaklawn Garden is a privately owned piece of land with a sprawling garden filled with historical artifacts from suburban Memphis. They’ve got trains, the original Germantown jail, loads of municipal ephemera and plenty of photo opportunities. […]

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