Gibbs Gardens, located in Ball Ground, Ga, includes 220 acres of breathtaking gardens set in mature rolling woodlands dotted with 24 ponds,19 waterfalls and myriad springs and streams with 32 bridge crossings. It’s also the country’s largest residential estate gardens…and it is GORGEOUS!
Here are 14 reasons why we love Gibbs Gardens, and make a point to visit as often as we can. Keep an eye on the Gibbs Gardens Facebook page or website for dates to all the events mentioned here – they change yearly in order to match the bloom times.
Springtime Daffodil COLORFEST (late winter/early spring)
Warm temperatures bring to live over 20 Million blooms covering 50+ acres of the property. Like liquid sunshine, myriad daffodils blanket rolling hillsides and fields, flow along streams and border woodlands, creating a panorama of blossoms, ranging in color from primrose-yellow to yellow, saffron, gold, orange, blush pink, white and cream. Each year since 1987, Jim Gibbs has added new varieties while existing plantings of daffodils continue to multiply and divide. There are now 1000’s of cultivars to view, including early, mid and late blooming types.
Southern Living magazine calls Gibbs Gardens’ Daffodil Gardens, “the most spectacular display of blooms this side of Holland . . . the most stunning daffodil gardens ever!”
Arts on the Great Lawn (spring)
Arts on the Great Lawn occurs in mid spring and is a great time to “test” the gardens for membership because a $10 admission on this weekend gets you full access to the Gardens and the Arts and Crafts Show. Bring the kids, too, for face painting (nominal fee) great food, and more. Oh! And usually the weekend before this is a super Mother’s Day garden celebration, too, with boxed brunches and live music!
Snakes, Turtles and Lizards…Oh My! (summer)
The Misunderstood World of Reptiles & Amphibians returns this year by popular demand. Kids will love this exploration into the interesting world of snakes, turtles, lizards and more. The instructors will talk about the role of these creatures in the animal kingdom and enlighten us about the difference between venomous and non-venomous. Attendees will have the opportunity to see these animals up close and touch or even hold, them, if desired.
Monet Waterlily Festival (late summer/early fall)
As the temps drop, enjoy hundreds of tropical and exotic waterlilies in an array that would make even Monet swoon. While your there, be sure to stop at the Arts & Crafts Show, where local artists are selling their original works. Besides dining at the cafe, there will also be French-inspired cuisine to complete your waterlily experience.
Fall Festival (fall)
Just after wrapping up the Waterlily Festival, you can kick off fall with live music, food, flower and lots of fun! You can hear bands on the Great Lawn or stroll the trails with accordion players and such.
Japanese Maples COLORFEST (mid/late fall)
Personally, I am a sucker for Japanese Maples and their warm hues. Head to Gibbs to see over 2000 gorgeous trees ablaze with the colors of fall. Like other festivals here, you’ll be greeted with live music, delicious food and a few fun surprises. 2016’s festival included Q&A and sales from the Atlanta Bonsai Society!
Twilight Music In The Gardens
Various weekends throughout the year you can enjoy live music from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., just as the sun is setting. Listen in the Great Lawn with a pre-ordered box dinner, or purchase food when your there (wine and beer too!) and listen as you stroll the gardens.
Plant Sales (spring)
Whether you’re a gardener at heart or you just want to dabble, plant sales are GREAT places to pick up new items for your pots and beds. They are affordable, and they are usually zone-approved (since they are probably cuttings, or rootings, etc from the garden) and more likely to do well in your own yard. It’s also an affordable way to get the kids involved; let them pick out some plants and make their own special garden!
Gibbs offers great book lectures and signing, classes and a great series from one of my favorite Georgia gardeners, free Monthly garden talks by Erica Glassner. This spring and summer you can even take classes on how to manage your own beehives (that is totally a dream of mine!)
Affordable Membership and Free Events
Memberships with the gardens are very affordable, especially at only $50 per year. At the very least, you’ll want to visit each season, which equates to less than $13 per ticket for 3+ hours of fun. Admission to the gardens includes admittance to all events, twilight music and festivals, too, which is pretty spectacular. Parking is free….it’s just a great place to take the kids when they need to explore, or take visiting guests for something unique and special.
The Fish Pool
The Fish Pool up near the Manor House is not something “featured” at Gibbs Gardens, but it is a place my kids adore. I love to head that way in summer because it’s toward the hydrangeas (my favorite plant by a landslide.) The kids don’t mind because they like walking under the rose arbor to The Fish Pool, and spending time in the shade admiring the koi. There’s even a little platform area for grabbing a drink of water and resting for a bit.
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while then you know I grew up in Japan, and possess a love-affair with the culture. Maybe that’s why the Japanese Gardens are my favorite place in the entire landscape. It’s a 40-acre glory to behold, and is in fact the largest Japanese Garden in the U.S. You’ll find 50+ yr old bonsai, cherry trees, weeping willows kissing the pond, a pagoda, bridges, stones…so many wonderful peaceful vignettes on which to rest your eyes.
Here you’ll find delicious sandwiches, salads and desserts. It is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The kids will love the giant chocolate chip cookies. I also appreciate the outdoor seating so that my kiddos can venture and explore while I finish my hot tea.
Ride The Tram
The Tram operates daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with regular trips to the Japanese Gardens and the Daffodil Gardens. An all-day tram pass is only $5.00 per person, plus tax, which allows the visitor unlimited access to both trams during the day of their visit.
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After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.