The University of Tennessee's undergraduate and graduate public horticulture concentrations are new programs designed to prepare individuals for careers in public horticulture that emphasize people and their education and enjoyment of plants. These new programs could not exist without the educational resources of the university's gardens. The gardens play a variety of roles in supporting faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students in these programs. The gardens serve as an outdoor laboratory and classroom and provide on-campus opportunities for the following teaching and learning activities: plant identification; plant photography; garden design; plant use; garden maintenance internships; special problem topics (e.g., production of annual variety trials, planting and labeling trials, writing garden literature, and creating interpretive displays); mapping and cataloging plants; and garden writing. Only through a university-based garden could opportunities to engage students in such meaningful learning experiences occur providing them with the competitive edge for entering the public horticulture field.