The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
Wednesday, 07 February 2024 13:02

Sequoyah Hills is now officially the arboretum we always shared

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Sequoyah Hills Arboretum sign identifying the Eastern Red Cedar to which it is attached.Many such new identifying tags highlight trees such as this red cedar in the newly designated Sequoyah Hills Arboretum near Bearden in Knoxville.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

The arboretum designation will  allow for more extensive tree walks, scout projects, school outings, and other educational programs on the value and beauty of native trees

KNOXVILLE — A small crowd of volunteers with tags and tools descended on Sequoyah Park on a February afternoon, preparing to affix identifying labels to the bark of old trees in one of the city’s most storied neighborhoods.

Sequoyah Park sits along the Tennessee River at 1400 Cherokee Boulevard, tucked behind the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood but open to all who want to run, walk, cycle, or enjoy its open fields and other features. It’s Tennessee Valley Authority land, maintained by the city. The many species of native trees that tower over the park’s long field got recognition this year. The park and other Sequoyah Hills neighborhood areas are now part of the Sequoyah Hills Arboretum, an accredited level one ArbNet arboretum.

Trees in the Sequoyah Hills Arboretum include sycamores, sweet gums, hackberries and black elders of various sizes.

“This Level 1 Arboretum will be used for scheduled tree walks, scout projects, school outings, and other educational programs on the value and beauty of native trees,” according to the ArbNet website.

Man using an electric drill to attach a species sign to a tree.Joe Deatherage installs arboretum signs on trees at the newly designated Sequoyah Hills Arboretum.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

Among the volunteers now working on signs for those trees is Doris Gove, author of nature focused children’s books like “My Mother Talks to Trees,” “One Rainy Night” and “The Smokies Yukky Book.” She spearheaded the effort for the arboretum designation including writing the proposal.

“It’s kind of complicated to get it certified,” she said. A group of volunteers went around to identify 25 different native tree species to East Tennessee, the number needed for Level 1 certification. She said, however, that volunteers will be labeling about 45 tree species total now. Gove said the neighborhood could aim for Level 2 Arboretum status with that many species, but said she’s not interested in that herself.

Gove said her goals in getting the arboretum certification included education and neighborhood pride. She pointed out the neighborhood also included Sequoyah Elementary School.

“I’d like to do educational programs with the kids,” she said referring to that school’s students.

As of Sunday, Gove said volunteers had “just started” but had finished tagging trees in Whitlow-Logan Park, another city park in the neighborhood that’s also part of the arboretum now. She said she hoped to later put up a large sign for the arboretum as a whole.

Gove may be coordinating the project, but she’s eschewed any formal title for herself or others.

“I am not a very organizing type of person,” Gove said. “At our very first meeting I could have set it up with officers and things. I didn’t do that.”

Funding for the tree signs and sponsorship for the application came from the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Association. Gove recommended anyone who wants to help the arboretum project make donations to that organization and note them for the Arboretum. If you want to learn more about how to help, email Lisa Carroll at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 21:17