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A New Jewel in the North Georgia Mountains - Gibbs Gardens

Updated on December 14, 2016
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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Beautiful in Every Season

Tucked away in the north Georgia foothills, at the foot of the great Smoky Mountains, is a once secret garden. It is not in a convenient place. But it is worth the trip. It is not yet well known. But it will be.

More than thirty years ago a professional landscape designer built his home at the highest peak in northeast Cherokee County Georgia, just off the historic Trail of Tears. Here the Cherokee Indian Nation endured the heartbreak of being forced off their land. If those souls could see their land today, there would be tears again, but this time, they would be tears in awe of great beauty.

After completing his home, Jim Gibbs spent the next three decades planning, designing, imagining, and dreaming of a garden that would wind its way through his 300-acre estate. For the last five years, he has built that dream into reality including 24 ponds, 32 bridge crossings, and 19 waterfalls: The Gibbs Gardens.

The Fall Season features Mother Nature at her best in the Georgia foothills, entry way to the Great Smoky Mountains. The northeast is known for its patchwork quilt display of colors, but the southeast throws in just enough evergreens to the mix to make the colors really pop. The leaves are usually at their peak around mid-October, though in recent years that autumn highlight has crept closer and closer to the end of September. The residents of Georgia's northern counties would advise the wise leaf-watchers to make the trip during the weekdays and avoid the metro traffic jams that migrate into the mountains along with the changing colors. Remember though, Gibbs Gardens is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The largest display of daffodils in the United States unfolds in a 50-acre sweep of woodlands, paths, ridge lines, and valleys. The only word to use for the best way to view the 60 varieties is "to meander" through them, taking in the pallet of color from saffron to orange, to blush pink, to white. But if you miss this seasonal treat that only lasts until mid-April, there is still more on which to feast the eye.

A replica of the Monet Bridge at Giverny is the focal point for 140 varieties of lilies in the Waterlily Gardens. Here they bloom in five ponds from May through November when the gardens close for the winter.

My personal favorite feature of the gardens, where no detail is left unattended, is the vast, virgin woods that have been left to the imagination of God. A fern garden leads down a path that takes the walker through nature as it was originally intended. At the right time of year the primary color against the bark and leaves is the splattering of wild Dogwoods. These trees create a snowstorm of white each year in early spring through the untouched forests of the south.

According to the history of the garden's design, the greatest effort at carving out of the landscape something not native to the region was the creation of the Japanese Gardens. Seven spring-fed ponds, bridges, boulders, pagodas, and lanterns fill the 40-acres piece d' resistance of Gibb's masterpiece. Wind your way through the largest Japanese Gardens in the county, down its twisting paths and zig-zag bridges, free of evil spirits who are known to travel only in straight lines.

Only those with a heart made of stone will be unmoved by the charming statues set creatively throughout the Grandchildren's Garden. This simple space invites youngsters (of any age) to climb and pose for pictures, blending into the ambiance created by endearing statues that seem to come to life in the welcoming setting.

On my first visit I bought a ticket to tour the gardens for the day. Before hesitantly leaving at the end of the day, I traded my daily pass for a season pass for two. I went back the next weekend to share this treat with my husband. We've been back time and time again when the hydrangea and roses are blooming. Gibbs Gardens has become our own special retreat from the hectic pace of everyday life, no matter how large the crowds of visitors have become now that the word is out.





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    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Tis the season for Gibbs Gardens. First wave of daffodils blooming NOW!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Gibbs is almost directly west of Helen!

    • cvanthul profile image

      Cristina Vanthul 

      3 years ago from Florida

      Yes, it's a short drive, Kathleen. I've been meaning to get to Atlanta to visit family and take a few days over in Helen. Maybe next year.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      cvanthul: Thanks for commenting. You can get there from Florida. Come on!

    • cvanthul profile image

      Cristina Vanthul 

      3 years ago from Florida

      Lovely hub. Gibbs Gardens sounds simply stunning!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      From Maryland it would be quite a drive to get to these gardens. But if you are ever in the Atlanta area, it is worth the trip! Thanks for commenting.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      What a stunning garden and a beautiful hub! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I'm sharing this hub right now because the hydrangeas are blooming and it is just as overwhelming as the early spring daffodils. If you are anywhere near north Georgia in the coming weeks, don't miss this treat!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      A beautiful garden can be a peaceful oasis for visitors as well as a treat for the senses. Viewing lovely flowers and plants in a tranquil setting is probably better for one's blood pressure than medication.

      Great hub, Kathleen--Glad it was "sent around" again.

      Voted Up+++

      Jaye

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Mr. Gibbs has done a great job with his premiere: Southern Living the month he opened - Wow! Glad you liked the hub. Thanks for commenting.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This sounds like a beautiful place, I hope I can make it down there someday. You did a wonderful job here, Mr. Gibbs should be proud! Voted up and all! Have a beautiful day! :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Don't miss it. The hydrangea ought to be blooming by now.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Great Job Ksthleen. I am up that way. Will check it out. Voted up and shared!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      This is astoundingly beautiful! I miss Georgia, as that is where I grew up. I am now ready for a road trip for sure!! Thanks for writing and sharing this great hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Are they known at the college? They are close to the Macadonia community near Ballground.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      The daffodils are gone now, but the hydrengea will be blooming soon, then the roses and day lilies. Come on down!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      If you are anywhere in the vicinity, don't miss it, any time of the year. Something will be blooming!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for sharing your photos of Gibbs Gardens…so convenient to Western NC, Tennessee, and SC!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Amazing that such a garden is tucked away up in Cherokee County, Georgia. The photographs of the gardens are simply breathtaking. Your prose makes them come to life. :)

      SHARING

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Just hit 5000 views (not just on this hub!) Whodathunkit?

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Snurre: Welcome to my hubs. Glad you like the pics! Most of the floral pix on my hubs are mine. Thanks for commenting.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 

      6 years ago

      A jewel indeed! Sounds like an amazing place to visit in Spring. And the photos are beautiful. Love the daffodils.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      susanc01: Welcome to my hubs. Thanks for commenting!

    • susanc01 profile image

      Melissa Spicer 

      6 years ago from Kentucky

      This is a beautiful hub. Great pictures. Voted up!

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