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Past Shows:

Show #3/4703. Springtime - A Great Time To Be In Our Gardens

Summary of Show

History Of Gibbs Gardens
Eric asks Jim to talk a little bit about his MISSION AND VISION for this garden. Jim provides some background. Gardening has always been a passion, he loves gardening and started at an early age. It is in his genes. In 1965 he graduated from the University of Georgia where he studied landscape architecture and horticulture. When he left Athens he moved to Atlanta and started Gibbs Landscape Company. In his travels, visiting fabulous gardens around the world, he seriously considered building a world class garden. In 1973 while in Japan studying Japanese gardens, he made the decision that he wanted to spend thirty years, which he knew it would take, to build that garden.
For More Information Click here

Hydrangeas
HYDRANGEAS are one of the most diverse and fascinating garden plants, especially from a standpoint of season long interest, There is so much flower power one receives from hydrangeas. Eric finds Jim’s hydrangea garden an amazing collection, very, very well constructed. Jim appreciates the compliment, they have over 1,250 hydrangeas and over a hundred and fifty varieties. They begin blooming in May and will bloom continually through the summer, many blooms will last, probably, until October, some of them even into November.
For More Information Click here

Categories Of Hydrangeas
There are far to many hydrangeas to discuss all of them, even in five shows but Eric would like for Jim to break it down into say the three or four dominant CATEGORIES OF HYDRANGEAS that he has utilized in this garden and then talk about some of the ones he particularly likes. Jim is glad to do so. Starting in May, the first hydrangea to bloom would be the oak leaf hydrangea, known as hydrangea quercifolia and there are many, many varieties of that particular hydrangea.
For More Information Click here

Pruning Hydrangeas
PRUNING is another frequent question. Hydrangeas, like azaleas and many other plants that bloom on older wood, can be a heartbreak of a plant if we don't get it right. The macrophylla hydrangea, which is the big leaf hydrangea, or the mop head hydrangea bloom on second year wood. You must know that. So many people will come into the Gibbs Gardens visitor center and say Mr. Gibbs, why are my hydrangeas not blooming? The first thing he asks is “when do you prune them?’
For More Information Click here

Day Lily Garden
Eric wants to know about the DAY LILY GARDEN. Jim fills us in. The day lily garden when he bought the property had previously been a cow pasture thus no trees or cover. He knew that he wanted this to become the day lily garden because they need full sun. The first thing was to make sure that the site was graded and that it had walkways of grass. It’s important to remember green is the complimentary color to all colors. Thus Jim knew that he wanted grassy walks.
For More Information Click here

Plant In Larger Groupings
Because LARGER GROUPINGS really show off the incredible flower power of this plant. With day lilies you can take your favorite colors, then mix them. But remember day lilies stock may have twenty buds but each one of those buds opens and makes a flower for only one day. The next day another bud opens and you get another flower. Day lilies are going to bloom for about six weeks unless you get some of the repeat bloomers. Repeat bloomers will bloom over and over again, which means they are going to bloom from May all the way through fall.
For More Information Click here

Jim’s Favorite Day Lilies
The plants are relatively easy to breed although a relatively tedious process; but there are so many different colors, so many different shapes. What are some of JIM’S FAVORITES, some he has used that he particularly likes? Well of course what he likes to do with day lilies is to mix up the heights of day lilies. There is nothing more boring than if they are all sort of on one plane. One notices in these gardens there are some with large blooms, some with smaller blooms, some have eyes in the center.
For More Information Click here

Day Lily Hybridization
The growers have been really intense with HYBRIDIZATION. It has been going on for thirty years, maybe longer. But the hybridizers are coming up with so many fabulous colors and color combinations, shapes and forms. Today there are little dwarf varieties, then the mid-sized to the intermediate to the taller varieties. And that is why they are exciting. You can look across all of these day lilies and think what if that was just on a horizontal plane, it would be boring. But today day lilies are exciting and every year there are more introductions. One of Jim’s favorites is Diana's pink gown. It has that beautiful pie crust border, some people call it picatee.
For More Information Click here

Water Gardens
Jim loves WATER GARDENS and was fascinated when he went to Monet’s garden at Giverny, outside of Paris. Monet had all the water lilies but then his bridge was beautiful too and the reflections in the water all made for a tremendous experience. So Jim has incorporated water gardens into this property. They have now planted over 147 varieties of water lilies. Half are hearty, meaning that they come back every year, the other half are tropical.
For More Information Click here

Control The Space Of Aquatic Plants
Certain aquatic plants can be garden bullies, they want to get a little aggressive. How does Jim CONTROL THEIR SPACE? Each water lily is planted in a container, that way it is easier to fertilize each plant. They do it once a month and are able to make sure the water lilies stay in their container. We’ve all seen ponds where the water lilies take over the entire pond. When that happens one doesn't even see the water, you certainly don't see the reflection. With the containers they are able to plant the hearty and tropical plants and always see reflections of the flowers and the pads in the water.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Gibbs Gardens
World-Class Garden | North GA Destinations | Gibbs Gardens

Jim Gibbs
Jim Gibbs | Gibbs Gardens

Plant List

 

Show #3/4703. Springtime - A Great Time To Be In Our Gardens

Complete Write Up

In this Episode GardenSMART visits an amazing public garden and digs deep into some of our favorite flowering plants, focusing on how you can have success with these outstanding plants in your own garden. A beautiful show and a lot to learn.

Jim Gibbs is no stranger to gardening in fact he has been at it his entire life. As the founder of a very successful garden design and landscape company Jim has spent decades immersed in plants and the intricacies of how to make them work together in perfect harmony. His passion for gardening found it’s ultimate voice when after 15 years of touring the finest gardens in the world he decided to make his mark in North Georgia. Jim knew that the most important component of a world class garden was site selection and with unwavering patience spent 6 years searching for just the right place. He knew that a strong water source was imperative as well as noble, mature trees. The site he settled on could not have been more perfect, 292 magnificent acres of rolling topography, home to hundreds of springs that feed 24 ponds and 19 waterfalls, garden rooms are cleverly hidden around each turn and the shaded paths culminate in 3 feature gardens - the manor house garden, the Japanese garden and the waterlily garden. And, all are stunning.

GardenSMART spends the day with this visionary gardener as he shares what he’s learned over a lifetime of dedication to the art of gardening.

Eric welcomes Jim Gibbs back to the show, it's great to have the opportunity to visit once again. Gibbs Gardens has truly been a labor of love. Eric asks Jim to talk a little bit about his MISSION AND VISION for this garden. Jim provides some background. Gardening has always been a passion, he loves gardening and started at an early age. It is in his genes. In 1965 he graduated from the University of Georgia where he studied landscape architecture and horticulture. When he left Athens he moved to Atlanta and started Gibbs Landscape Company. In his travels, visiting fabulous gardens around the world, he seriously considered building a world class garden. In 1973 while in Japan studying Japanese gardens, he made the decision that he wanted to spend thirty years, which he knew it would take, to build that garden. He knew he had to develop a criteria and knew that an abundance of water was at the top of the list. He also wanted to make sure he had a mature forest setting and wanted to make sure he had rolling topography so he could feature the plants. And he wanted to be located between interstate I-75 and Georgia 400. So that was sort of where everything began. In 1980 he found this land, this beautiful property and started building the garden. The gardens were open to the public in 2012. 2016 is the fifth year being open and they now have had over 500,000 visitors. And out of that 500,000, fortunately 60,000 have purchased annual memberships. So the garden is doing great and they’re having fun. Eric is impressed but wonders - This must have been a herculean task. Where would one even begin? Jim started at Yellow Creek Road, the paved road, then had to begin to build the road back to the manor house. Once able to build the house it became sort of like the european pleasure gardens because they start at the house. The gardens are a part of house, you don't separate them. One wants to live and look out into your garden and feel like you just stepped out into the garden. So he started there and every year tried to design and landscape ten acres. That is how he knew it would take 30 years. With 300 acres, if he landscaped 10 acres a year, he knew it would take thirty years to build it. So, he started at Yellow Creek Road, built the road back, built the house, then the gardens. Eric is impressed but knows we have a full day ahead so is anxious to go see what’s in bloom.

HYDRANGEAS are one of the most diverse and fascinating garden plants, especially from a standpoint of season long interest, Their is so much flower power one receives from hydrangeas. A Eric finds Jim’s hydrangea garden an amazing collection, very, very well constructed. Jim appreciates the compliment, they have over 1,250 hydrangeas and over a hundred and fifty varieties. They begin blooming in May and will bloom continually through the summer, many blooms will last, probably, until October, some of them even into November. It is very important to integrate many different plants into a hydrangea garden. Eric has seen many hydrangea gardens that in the winter look like a bundle of sticks. And, that is why it is so important to have evergreens and other more structural plants in a hydrangea garden. Jim has chosen rhododendrons as his complimentary plant. Certainly one could use other plants. In this garden at the end of April, first of May, for three to four weeks they have over a thousand hybrid rhododendron with a hundred varieties that come into bloom. Even in the winter the rhododendrons are evergreen. Imagine the annabelle with no leaves, they would be, as Eric says, just sticks. Jim feels it’s important in planning any garden, even your own personal garden, no matter how small, to put some evergreens as complimentary plants to the deciduous hydrangeas, because, of course, they are going to drop their leaves in the winter.

There are far to many hydrangeas to discuss all of them, even in five shows but Eric would like for Jim to break it down into say the three or four DOMINANT CATEGORIES OF HYDRANGEAS that he has utilized in this garden and then talk about some of the ones he particularly likes. Jim is glad to do so. Starting in May, the first hydrangea to bloom would be the oak leaf hydrangea, known as hydrangea quercifolia and there are many, many varieties of that particular hydrangea. Jim likes that it has a beautiful cone shape, blooms for a long period of time, starts out white but then later turns sort of a pinkish color, which is nice for a color change. It is called oak leaf because the leaf looks just like an oak leaf which as mentioned turns burgundy or red in the fall and it's fabulous. The next group blooming will be the macrophylla, people call those the big leaf hydrangea, a lot of people call them mop heads because they have big, round heads of blue or pink, they bloom after the oak leafs. Next are the arborescens, annabelle is always a favorite hydrangea arborescens. Paniculata, limelight and tardiva are some of the other favorites in this group. Next will be the serrata, or lace caps and they too are extraordinary. There are so many hydrangeas and that is what makes a hydrangea garden so exciting. Jim thinks people, especially the gardeners among us, love to visit hydrangea gardens because they want to dig really deep into hydrangeas. Eric wonders what resource material Jim might recommend for hydrangeas. Without question, the book Jim always goes to is Michael Dirr's book “Hydrangeas for American Gardens” (Hydrangeas for American Gardens from Timber Press). In this book there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties listed. Dirr tells how to grow hydrangeas, one can go through and search for the hydrangea you want for your particular site. In Jim’s mind there is no question everybody needs this book in their gardening library.

Eric and Jim next discuss growing hydrangeas and some of the things one needs to keep in mind. One of the questions that we, at GardenSMART, receive frequently is - my hydrangeas are pink and would like them to be blue or vice-versa. How do we affect the color of hydrangeas? If they are blue they are growing in acidic soil. If they are pink the soil is alkaline. So if you want a pink hydrangea to be blue all you would do is put aluminum sulfate around it. If you want your blue hydrangea to be pink put some lime around it and it will change colors. It may take a little bit of time for the color to change, let the product set there and it will happen in time.

PRUNING is another frequent question. Hydrangeas, like azaleas and many other plants that bloom on older wood, can be a heartbreak of a plant if we don't get it right. The macrophylla hydrangea, which is the big leaf hydrangea, or the mop head hydrangea bloom on second year wood. You must know that. So many people will come into the Gibbs Gardens visitor center and say Mr. Gibbs, why are my hydrangeas not blooming? The first thing he asks is “when do you prune them?” They will say “oh, every year, like I am supposed to, I cut them back to the ground.” Well that is the worst thing you can do because you no longer have second year wood for it to bloom on. If one has a hydrangea that has nine canes, select three of those canes to prune, prune the oldest out, leave the other six canes to produce blooms. Scatter the canes you prune throughout the plant so it looks natural. By doing this you will always have blooms, but leave enough second year wood. That is important, it’s a great tip. It’s smart to take out the oldest wood because that is where the greatest risk of disease and insect pressure is going to be and a wonderful way to keep the plant clean, keep it healthy and ensure that we get blooms every year.

Eric and Jim next visit another garden. And, it is impressive. Eric comments that when Jim decides to design a garden he doesn’t believe in going small. Eric wants to know about the DAY LILY GARDEN. Jim fills us in. The day lily garden when he bought the property had previously been a cow pasture thus no trees or cover. He knew that he wanted this to become the day lily garden because they need full sun. The first thing was to make sure that the site was graded and that it had walkways of grass. It’s important to remember green is the complimentary color to all colors. Thus Jim knew that he wanted grassy walks. He wanted enough grass to really show off the day lilies. Once it was graded he began selecting the day lilies. They now have over three hundred thousand flowers, over five hundred varieties. Next Jim wanted to take thirty varieties of day lilies and arrange those to the color wheel, then take another thirty varieties and arrange those to the color wheel. So when you look out you will notice how you get a mix of all the day lilies but they are arranged to the color wheel. For Jim day lilies mix very well, but most homeowners will not have this much land. So if yellow, orange and red are your favorite colors you will then, most likely, select those day lilies. If you mix them up they look great, any day lilies mix well in any kind of border. But Jim does believe it is important, if you can, to have the border of grass, which is the complimentary color to all of the flowers. This is a plant that we ideally want to use in bluffs or in larger plantings as opposed to specimen plantings - something like a red one here and an orange one over here. Because LARGER GROUPINGS really show off the incredible flower power of this plant. With day lilies you can take your favorite colors, then mix them. But remember day lilies stock may have twenty buds but each one of those buds opens and makes a flower for only one day. The next day another bud opens and you get another flower. Day lilies are going to bloom for about six weeks unless you get some of the repeat bloomers. Repeat bloomers will bloom over and over again, which means they are going to bloom from May all the way through fall. If you can put repeat bloomers on the front of your border, something like moon traveller, then that is going to continue to bloom and you won't just have green foliage. Day lilies are a nearly bulletproof plant and that is one reason why Jim loves using them in the garden. There are very few things one needs to worry about from the standpoint of keeping them happy and healthy. But we should address fertility and also, when we divide them. Here Jim divides all of the day lilies after three to five years. It is easier to pull the divisions apart then. Regarding fertility with day lilies - Jim thinks it is best to fertilize them probably in March, then two and a half months later with a slow release fertilizer, then two and a half months after that. Also, it is better to divide your day lilies in September because they are then going to be well rooted for the winter, which is especially critical if there happens to be a hard winter freeze. Eric agrees, he feels we do need to divide them periodically because they get really, really tight which will diminish the flower power. And, importantly it is a great way to start with a few day lilies and end up with thousands of them in time. So the plant is going to be happier. Another point about dividing in the fall is it's easier to locate where our plants are instead of waiting until they are completely dormant. What a great plus when we can share day lilies with friends. That is always nice.

There is so much that is going on in the world of day lily breeding. Every year there are amazing new cultivars that come out, there are so many different options. The plants are relatively easy to breed although a relatively tedious process; but there are so many different colors, so many different shapes. What are some of JIM’S FAVORITES, some he has used that he particularly likes? Well of course what he likes to do with day lilies is to mix up the heights of day lilies. There is nothing more boring than if they are all sort of on one plane. One notices in these gardens there are some with large blooms, some with smaller blooms, some have eyes in the center. The spider lily is real loose and drapey. Down at the end is a day lily hemerocallis, memories, that is six feet high. As you look across these gardens the varying sizes and shapes and forms make the garden more interesting. It’s hard to pick a favorite.

The growers have been really intense with HYBRIDIZATION. It has been going on for thirty years, maybe longer. But the hybridizers are coming up with so many fabulous colors and color combinations, shapes and forms. Today there are little dwarf varieties, then the mid-sized to the intermediate to the taller varieties. And that is why they are exciting. You can look across all of these day lilies and think what if that was just on a horizontal plane, it would be boring. But today day lilies are exciting and every year there are more introductions. One of Jim’s favorites is Diana's pink gown. It has that beautiful pie crust border, some people call it picatee. Bill Waldrop hybridized the plant and named it after his wife Diana because it reminded him of how beautiful she was in her pink gown. Diana’s pink gown is a beautiful day lily but there are so many more like it. With all of hybridizers available today, one must just go and look at each flower. People say, “Oh I like that one or this one.” But much depends on your favorite flower color. So, this is a fun garden to visit. Everybody likes to walk the day lily gardens, they enjoy the beauty of it. Eric thinks that hybridizing is something that keeps the plant really exciting. Every year to know there is going to be this wonderful, competitive sense that the breeders have of who is going to put out the most beautiful day lily and then for us, as plants people, being able to look at everything that is out there and every year, it's a ton of new plants and then select that particular gem that we love for our garden. That is really special.

Jim had mentioned how important water was in site selection for this garden. Of course, it's an indispensable feature for gardens everywhere. The way water engages our senses and the kind of experience that we get as we walk through a garden that has great water features is magical. Jim loves WATER GARDENS and was fascinated when he went to Monet’s garden at Giverny, outside of Paris. Monet had all the water lilies but then his bridge was beautiful too and the reflections in the water all made for a tremendous experience. So Jim has incorporated water gardens into this property. They have now planted over 147 varieties of water lilies. Half are hearty, meaning that they come back every year, the other half are tropical. With tropicals they have found that it is cheaper just to buy new plants every year and put them in. They are not expensive, eight or nine dollars for a new plant that is going to bloom all the way to heavy frost in November seems reasonable to Jim. The tropical plants have taller stems, bigger flowers, and reflect in the water. The hearty, that one sees right now and are blooming, are going to be shorter stemmed. Another point, that is important, is they have never been able to hybridize blue, lavender, or purple in a hearty. But it is available in a tropical. The nice thing about that color is on a hot summer day, when you are looking at water lilies, remember that blue, lavender, and purple are cool colors, they will make the garden feel cooler. So that is nice. These ponds are unique because they are all spring fed. Many sites don't have the luxury of having a spring fed pond so they are having to either line them with some kind of mortar or a plastic liner. What they were able to do here was look for an abundance of water but he never dreamed that he would find such an abundance of water. They are on a huge aquifer. When a track backhoe digs down five feet a geyser of water will shoot up and that spring will continue to run indefinitely There are twenty-four ponds, each one is spring fed with at least three to five to seven big springs. This means they have the same spring water temperature throughout, even in the winter so their water lilies will bloom into December because the water temperature doesn't change.

Water gardening opens up a whole new pallet of plants to the gardener and for many gardeners, who are not as familiar with aquatic plants, it is not a familiar category. Eric doesn’t often garden in this area, so picking the right plants for your water garden can be a little tricky. What Jim has done here is to make sure to have a mix of hearty and tropical water lilies. The hearty’s will begin to bloom in May and they are going to bloom all the way through September even into October. They don't plant tropicals here until June and they will bloom all the way to November, even December unless they have a heavy frost. Because the spring water stays at a constant temperature they can have flowers longer than other ponds because it is all spring fed. Certain aquatic plants can be garden bullies, they want to get a little aggressive. How does Jim CONTROL THEIR SPACE? Each water lily is planted in a container, that way it is easier to fertilize each plant. They do it once a month and are able to make sure the water lilies stay in their container. We’ve all seen ponds where the water lilies take over the entire pond. When that happens one doesn't even see the water, you certainly don't see the reflection. With the containers they are able to plant the hearty and tropical plants and always see reflections of the flowers and the pads in the water. Eric wonders, if I were a home gardener and had a small space or maybe a patio garden and wanted to get into aquatic gardening what kind of plants would Jim recommend and then how would one go about doing it? When home gardeners have containers on their patio or a small garden space they can be filled with water then actually add the tropical water lilies or hearty water lilies. Typically one will plant things like the purple pickerel, Japanese iris, anything that's a water loving plant. You can do that in a very large or small container. Monet painted water lilies because he loved the reflection and the flowers, are all very different, they are one of the most beautiful flowers, and there are so many different colors to choose from. So, once again, everybody gets to pick their favorite color.

Eric thanks Jim sharing the day with us. We have learned so much from Jim, it's always a treat to visit Gibbs Gardens. Jim returns the compliment, it has been his pleasure. Thank you.

LINKS:

Gibbs Gardens
World-Class Garden | North GA Destinations | Gibbs Gardens

Jim Gibbs
Jim Gibbs | Gibbs Gardens

Plant List


   
 
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