I had an opportunity, in early November, to visit Gibbs Gardens, just north of Atlanta in Ball Ground, Georgia. It was designed and developed as the dream of Jim Gibbs, who owned a landscape company in Atlanta. He spent 6 years searching for the perfect property and 30 years developing it before opening it to the public.
Tickets are $20.00 for adults; $18.00 for seniors and a tram ticket is another $5.00. Considering that the developed acreage of Gibbs Gardens is 220 acres (total of 292), the tram gives you a respite from walking. It takes you to the Japanese Gardens and the Manor House.
On the grounds are 16 garden venues including the Water Lily gardens (with the Monet Bridge), rose gardens, wildflower meadow, 20 million daffodils and the largest Japanese Garden in the U.S.
We spent most of our time in the 40 acre Japanese Garden, entering through a Torii Gate and following the trail through spring-fed ponds, across bridges and sighing over the colorful Japanese Maples (one of my favorite trees).
My sister, Miss Priss, happens to be an architect. When she sent me a few of her photos, and I discovered this bench, I was amazed that we were in the same park, not more than 5 feet apart at most times, and I never saw this bench. She was of the opinion that I was more focused on the natural world and she on the constructed world.
The American Hemerocallis Society (AHS) is the national organization of daylily enthusiasts. As a member, I had been wanting to visit a local display garden. Seeing that my own daylily blooms were on the wane, I knew it was “now or next year” so I contacted the display garden nearest me, Martha’s Madness. Martha exuded that Southern charm you’ve always heard about. I love Southern charm. You just can’t beat it for warmth and hospitality. She told me to mark my calendar for June 4th and attend an “open house” at two of the local display gardens.
Display Garden: Lilies By The Pond
I should have taken more photos at this display garden but the heat fried my brain the minute I got out of the car. Let me tell you about it instead.
I was amazed at the sheer number of daylilies this couple had managed to cram onto your average sized subdivision lot. They had a respectable collection in the front yard with that beautiful but expensive concrete curbing around it.
When you entered the backyard from the left side, the side yard was filled with rows of raised beds (might have been 2 feet off the ground). An in-ground daylily bed ran the length of the privacy fence. This flowed into another large concrete-curbed bed at the patio. There was no privacy fence running across the back of the property because the houses were situated on a large lake with ducks paddling around. It was very picturesque and I’m sure their lakeside neighbors enjoyed looking at all their daylily blooms from their own back yards.
Display Garden: Martha’s Madness
Martha probably had the same number of daylilies as Lilies By The Pond but she limited her collection to the right and left side yards.
Both of the wooden deck paths led to a secluded picnic area. I did not photograph the picnic table, the two-seater swing, or the left side yard.
Martha told a hilarious story on her husband, Duke, and I do hope I didn’t guffaw too loudly. It seems that she really wanted him to see a particularly stunning daylily and rather than walk out to see it (I think they had about a half acre), he got in the car, backed it out of the garage, and drove it around the corner to the street that runs beside their corner lot. He then looked at the daylily from the car! She didn’t mention the use of binoculars but he would have needed them!
You can learn about The American Hemerocallis Society at daylilies.org. The AHS has a wonderful database of thousands of “named” daylilies with all the pertinent information on each daylily at daylilydatabase.org). Membership is $25.00/year for an individual; $30.00 for dual membership.
The North Florida Daylily Society (nfdaylily.com) meets the second Sunday of the month between January and April at 2:15 pm in the public library at 2054 Plainfield Avenue, Orange Park, FL. Your first year of membership is free. Thereafter, it’s a bargain $8.00/year.
The Club President, Bob Reese, gave me an idea of the upcoming topics and speakers they will have in 2017:
January — daylily culture
February — a hybridizer will speak
March — possibly a second hybridizer
April — the club’s daylily guru, Keith, will tell members what to do to get their flowers ready for the show
May 13 — Annual Show & Plant Sale, Courtyard Marriott, 610 Wells Road, Orange Park, FL. This show is open to the public and I was told the daylily prices range from $5 up to $25 for two fans which is very reasonable for named daylilies. Mark your calendars !
As a fund raiser, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens put on a Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour over Mother’s Day weekend, May 7 and 8. In exchange for a hefty ticket fee, you were allowed to politely tromp around the front and back yards of “Atlanta’s finest private gardens.” In the event you were to think that you could do anything more than a polite tromp, they had an off-duty policeman at each house which greatly surprised me.
Of the 10 gardens on the tour, Priss, her husband and I were able to visit 6 before my bad knee rebelled. I offer photos of the garden elements that caught my eye.
Orbiting the Crooked Moon as I do, I’m always having these “adventures” I would just as soon not have. Yesterday was no different. I headed south to visit with one of my blog’s first subscribers, Meta. I ran into more than my share of T-stops that had so much signage I couldn’t see the name of the street or either the name of the T-stop was different than it was supposed to be. Then, of course, because everywhere I was driving was mostly rural, street signs required a magnifying glass. Plus, when you get far enough south, they number all their streets which can REALLY confound you when you are in the northwest teens and you need to be in the southwest teens. It doesn’t help when your visitee gives you the wrong area code for her phone number, either. This was nothing personal I learned. She regularly gives hapless fools like me the wrong area code.
Meta came to visit my gardens in July 2014 and I wanted to see hers but not in the heat of July again so I waited until now. Although it was a scheduled visit, it came at a really bad time as her daughter-in-law was in the hospital. The three of them – Meta, her son and daughter-in-law live in a family compound arrangement like I have done for the last 25 years.
My worst adventure happened on the return trip. I was looking for 326 and came upon another one of those T-stops that was NOT labeled 326. At that point, I had no idea where I was. I turned around and headed back and saw a County Sheriff trying to leave a gas station. I rolled my window down and waved my Google Map pages at him. The Sheriff said he hoped I didn’t want directions because he was awful at them. I would have liked to have seen my expression because it most certainly radiated “Oh shit.” Not only was I lost but this dude didn’t have a clue, either. I think he was pulling my leg, though, because he said NE 70th and 326 were the same thing and I should take a left there, go through two lights and turn right. I could have kissed his badge because he saved me a lot of grief.