It wasn’t long after I had moved to Georgia that I began noticing billboards along Highway 515 about Gibbs Gardens located in Ball Ground and the flash of the word Gardens sparked a question in my brain, “Was this some kind of advertisement for a nursery or something?”
Well lo and behold after quickly researching, I learned it was actually a beautiful private garden built on an estate owned by a gentleman by the name of Jim Gibbs and better yet it was open to the public!
Since as everyone who knows me knows I am an “outdoorsy” person and love attending any type of event or special place of recreation I immediately began to research where it was and when it was open.
To my delight I learned that in the month of January, just prior to the opening of the gardens, they offer a “buy one get one free” admission price which was also a win/win for me!
The opening can vary depending on the annual bloom seasons but normally in mid February they are good to go with the beautiful season of the daffodils! Since my schedule had been a little busy that month we decided to attend on Easter Day instead, barely missing the peak of the beautiful yellow blossoms but that was no problem as the gardens were still alive with millions of other colorful beauties and many more to make their débuts. Literally all year long there are different flowers and shrubberies ready to bloom at some point so there is an ever array of change and beauty at the gardens.
Gibbs Gardens may be Georgia’s best kept secret as there are many people still unaware of the beauty that lives in their own backyards!
A few years ago Mr. Gibbs decided to write his own book about his beloved gardens to explain many of the answers that the thousands of visitors would ask him upon their arrival.
When one of the visitors suggested writing a book to explain his building of the gardens, he thought it to be a great idea and now he offers the book for sale at his gardens as well as other places to get the word out on the gardens and answer some of the more common questions about how it had started and more.
Although I never personally had the opportunity to interview Mr. Gibbs, perhaps one day I will as he seems like such an interesting person and entrepreneur.
The garden covers 300 acres on the private estate which itself was built on 336 acres that include the manor home as well. It is considered the nation’s largest residential gardens. Mr. Gibbs traveled for 15 years viewing and researching gardens of every style, then spent another six years to find the perfect location for his gardens.
He used his many years of expertise as a professional landscaper and business man owning a successful landscaping business in Atlanta for 40 years. In that time he also received many awards for his landscaping designs, even two special events honoring him at special ceremonies at the White House!
He knew he had found the perfect spot for his gardens when he came upon a special place in Ball Ground on a homesite overlooking one of the highest crests in northeast Cherokee County. The site had a beautiful stream which ran through it and a hundred other connecting streams. It also had many mature dogwoods, azaleas and mountain laurels on the property as well as several ponds and a lake.
It was then that all the hard work began as Mr. Gibbs went to work finding all the beautiful plants and mature trees and shrubbery that would build his beautiful gardens. One thing that he is most proud of is the usage of some of the seedlings handed down to him from his grandmothers that came from original cuttings from boxwood hedges that were grown on his grandmothers’ farms. One of the farms dated back hundreds of years and prior to the Civil War sparked dreams of what historical secrets they may have held.
Jim Gibbs’ dream gardens were officially opened in March of 2012, and millions of people have visited ever since. They are open pretty much year round and boast 16 garden venues, 50 acres of daffodils, spring fed ponds, streams, waterfalls, forest, bridges and much more! They are truly a photographer’s paradise as well as providing a feeling of walking in a beautiful paradise.
I had the opportunity of taking so many photos that my camera battery finally died. The best part is that there is always something beautiful and different to be seen each time one goes to the gardens no matter what time of year it is.
Go online to their website at www.gibbsgardens.com and check out when is the best time to see what is in bloom and when. The gardens also offer some of the most beautiful walking trails around, a refreshment stand and even a small gift shop as well as many places to just sit and relax and take in the view. I love the fact that I now have an annual membership because I definitely am planning to go back again and again.
What I enjoy most about the gardens is that it is such a welcome change to some of the more hectic venues and attractions that tend to be a little more fast paced and stressful. After all it is always nice to slow down a bit and take in the beautiful surroundings of nature itself and give ourselves a chance to “stop and smell the roses” – along with lots of other beautiful flowers!