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GardenSMART Episode

Show #49/6210. Planning And Planting A Garden #3

Summary of Show

Design Principles That Govern Creating Intimate Spaces
In this Episode we're talking about the DESIGN PRINCIPLES THAT GOVERN CREATING INTIMATE SPACES or little garden venues, inside of a larger garden. That is one of the things that every time Eric visits Gibbs Gardens he's so impressed with, Jim's ability to almost effortlessly do that. Eric is really, really excited to pick Jim’s brain….. For More Information Click Here

Grouping Plants
When Jim started this dwarf conifer garden he had 200 varieties come in on two big trailers from Portland, Oregon. Once unloaded they put them in an open space, fairly close to the conifer garden. What he then did was take four to six individual plants, then GROUPED THE FOUR TO SIX PLANTS based on their form, their texture and color and sun requirements. He put all the sun loving groupings in an area for sun, then took the ones that needed part sun and placed them in groupings of four to six plants and put them in an area for part sun, then the ones that needed part shade he grouped those in an area for part shade. You group in 4 to 6 plants because as you go through a garden your cone of vision only picks up about four to six plants at one time. For More Information Click Here

Interweaving Color, Texture And Form
Eric is interested in how Jim, with all of these collections, was able to use the design principles of four to six plants, then also making the COLOR, TEXTURE AND FORM interweave among the different collections because it's a fascinating garden to look at it. Jim explains the conifer collections in the new Inspiration Garden has over 200 varieties of conifers. All different forms, different textures, different colors. In addition he has an Encore azalea collection, 33 varieties with all of their complexion. For More Information Click Here

Little Groupings Of Plants, Many Different Vistas
One thing that Eric loves about many of the larger collections in what is, mostly, a conifer garden, is the way Jim has utilized the principles of color, texture, and form. What could be fairly monotonous, is not. This is a very exciting garden to experience and that's because Jim created so MANY OF THESE LITTLE VISTAS. How would one create these little groupings of plants that all work together? Using the Japanese maples as these pops of color, using some tall plants as a focal point of the garden, something to draw our eye down the path adds interest to it. For More Information Click Here

Use Pathways As A Guide
Eric has visited Gibbs Garden for many, many years. And one of the things that makes this garden so exciting for visitors is the fact that Jim was very thoughtful from the outset of every single garden space that he designed, he was very thoughtful about figuring out the pathways first. PATHWAYS ARE VERY, VERY IMPORTANT here at Gibbs Gardens. Jim has used pathways as a way to guide the viewer through the garden, in that way you have some degree of control over the experience, but it also is a way of breaking up these gardens and almost framing them with these beautiful gravel pathways. Jim likes to use a lot of curves. For More Information Click Here

Research Most Helpful In Designing A Garden
It goes without saying that the more we learn and the more experience that we have in gardening, the better we will be at it. Jim has a lifetime of knowledge that's been accumulated over decades of being a great designer and a great plantsman. What are some of the things that have been HELPFUL IN THAT JOURNEY? Of course, reading, checking all of the new books, checking websites, viewing websites. He's traveled the world, has seen all of the great gardens. Jim wanted to build a world class garden, but as he looks back, for example, on the conifer garden, Tom Cox is a person that he consulted with. Tom lives close, he knows zone seven and eight. Tom has a book out that's called, “Landscaping With Conifers and Ginkgo For The Southeast.” Tom Cox and John Ruter wrote the book. It's probably the only book for the southeast, if you're looking for conifers for the southeast. But there are many, many conifer books, or go visit other conifer gardens. Of course, it will depend on what plant collection you're thinking about. Check out books on plant collections - for azaleas, another one for conifers, another one for dwarf maples, another one for native azaleas. For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

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

Jim Gibbs
Jim Gibbs | Gibbs Gardens

Buddy Lee - Encore Azaleas
Meet the Man Behind the South's Iconic Encore Azalea | Southern Living

Brent Markus - Rare Tree Nursery - Japanese Maples
Japanese Maples – Rare Tree Nursery

Tom Cox - Conifers
Cox Arboretum |

Landscaping With Conifers And Ginko For The Southeast
Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast: Cox, Tom, Ruter, John M.: 9780813042480: Amazon.com: Books

Jim Gibbs Book — Gibbs Gardens: Reflection On A Gardening Life
Gibbs Gardens: Reflections on a Gardening Life by James H. Gibbs

Plant List

Show #49/6210. Planning And Planting A Garden #3

Transcript of Show

A well-designed garden has a way of transporting us to a new, magical place. And, creating these amazing spaces, inside of a larger garden, is an art form in and of of itself. Great garden design is a very thoughtful and personal thing, one must consider the many ways in which the space will be experienced and used, then allow that to inform the way in which it's crafted. To be successful with developing intimate, unique views and garden rooms there are many things to consider at the outset.

GardenSMART has had the privilege of following garden designer Jim Gibbs through the process of his latest endeavor, the Inspiration Garden. His latest passion project only further punctuates his work as a plantsman and designer and adds yet another amazing space to the 16 existing, unique gardens at Gibbs Gardens.

Eric once again welcomes Jim. It’s great to see you again, welcome back to the show. Jim thanks Eric and GardenSMART for visiting once again.

In this Episode we're talking about the DESIGN PRINCIPLES THAT GOVERN CREATING INTIMATE SPACES or little garden venues, inside of a larger garden. That is one of the things that every time Eric visits Gibbs Gardens he's so impressed with, Jim's ability to almost effortlessly do that. Eric is really, really excited to pick Jim's brain and help our viewers understand better how we can do that, how we can think about that kind of garden design. Jim comments, of course, Gibbs Gardens is 336 acres, a lot of space, but even if you have a little, small garden, you can still take that one space and make it more interesting by dividing it into, at least, two spaces. It may be just a small walkway or maybe even stepping stones, a little walk that meanders through your garden that gives you a space on the right of the stepping stones or the left. It could lead to a bench, it could lead to a little recirculating fountain or a bench and a little fountain. There are all kinds of ways to break it up but if you create the little spaces you make it more interesting and that's what's so important to a garden.
Eric would go so far as to say, even in the little snapshot of this garden there are different garden views, even inside each planting. We've got to think about as gardeners every angle we view is a space, it's an opportunity for a new portrait to allow for these playful little vignettes throughout the garden. And that really is what makes gardens fascinating.
The space where Jim and Eric are standing is one of 10 spaces that make up a larger space. In this one space the boulders that are here, the dwarf dissecta maple, the dwarf ginkgos, the different greens, all these plants are adding interest to this one space. We want to create something to create interest, something that says “Stop, look at me" The plants are saying, “Look at me. I want you to stop, see me."
When Eric thinks back to his first garden, as a young horticulturist, he remembers the process of putting that garden in. It was kind of a haphazard thing. He would go visit these beautiful gardens that he had tremendous respect for and was then mystified at how they were able to envision that space and make it happen on such a scale. It just seemed so daunting. How did they go about the process of figuring it all out? There was interest around every corner. It just seemed like something completely out of his grasp until all of that started to get pulled down into smaller spaces, thinking about the garden in terms of every 8 foot by 8 foot or 10 foot by 10 foot section. Once he realized that, he was then able to build something cohesive from that point forward.

When Jim started this dwarf conifer garden he had 200 varieties come in on two big trailers from Portland, Oregon. Once unloaded they put them in an open space, fairly close to the conifer garden. What he then did was take four to six individual plants, then GROUPED THE FOUR TO SIX PLANTS based on their form, their texture and color and sun requirements. He put all the sun loving groupings in an area for sun, then took the ones that needed part sun and placed them in groupings of four to six plants and put them in an area for part sun, then the ones that needed part shade he grouped those in an area for part shade. You group in 4 to 6 plants because as you go through a garden your cone of vision only picks up about four to six plants at one time. If those four to six plants have great form, great texture, and great color, then add another grouping, that's totally different next to them, that way you're creating more interest. If you then take another grouping of four to six plants and put those next to those you've already placed it works well. If you were going to a garden center and were going to select some plants for your garden, let's say you were selecting them for a dwarf conifer garden you could stay there at the garden center and just take some plants out. Four to six plants, know if they are going to be for sun, etc. and you group them over in one little place on the parking lot, for example, then you get another group of four to six plants and you pull them around. You play with them and put them in little groupings of four to six plants. Then go to another one. But when you put them all together, you have this magnificent grouping of maybe 24 plants instead of four to six. Your mind can think easier about four to six plants, even if it's a corner in your garden. Put the taller plants in the background, then put intermediate plants in front of those, then put lower plants in front of those. You get these step levels and you have created much more interest and intrigue for the viewer to go through your garden and appreciate your plant collections. Eric agrees, once we've established what the personality of the garden's going to be, break it down into those little squares because as we experience a garden it's almost impossible to see all of it in its totality at one time. We're only looking at little vignettes.
Eric thinks the most exciting gardens are the ones where the gardener was thoughtful about making sure each one of the little groupings, almost like little postage stamps, are interwoven by a common theme. That's what makes for an exciting garden. The Inspiration Garden is a wonderful example. Jim has incorporated a lot of different types of plants.

Eric is interested in how Jim, with all of these collections, was able to use the design principles of four to six plants, then also making the COLOR, TEXTURE AND FORM interweave among the different collections because it's a fascinating garden to look at it. Jim explains the conifer collections in the new Inspiration Garden has over 200 varieties of conifers. All different forms, different textures, different colors. In addition he has an Encore azalea collection, 33 varieties with all of their complexion. They have over 1200 plants and has grouped them according to color so that you get the color wheel as you go through, seeing the proper colors next to each other. So as one walks through the garden you have this kaleidoscope of color that blends one color into the next, that harmonizes and works well. The other thing they have is over 100 varieties and 1800 native azaleas and they're all fragrant. Certain varieties bloom in the spring. As you walk through the garden you pick up that wonderful fragrance when they're in bloom. Additionally they have dwarf maples. They're beautiful, rare, unusual dwarf dissectum maples. They have over 100 varieties of those in this new garden. Throughout the rest of the property they have over 3000 Japanese maples, but in this one garden, they've added 125 new varieties to the 300 varieties they already have. Jim likes to add new varieties each time they do a new collection. This garden also has dwarf ginkgos. They have a collection of all the dwarf ginkgos. But one must think about - do they need sun, do they need part sun, do they need part shade? You can't put a grouping of full sun plants next to a part shade plants. It won't work, they'll die. You've got to think in terms of that. When you go to the nursery or garden center, you've got to think about what you're looking for. Know your light requirements and know what zone you live in. Those facts are very important to know.

One thing that Eric loves about many of the larger collections in what is, mostly, a conifer garden, is the way Jim has utilized the principles of color, texture, and form. What could be fairly monotonous, is not. This is a very exciting garden to experience and that's because Jim created so MANY OF THESE LITTLE VISTAS. How would one create these little groupings of plants that all work together? Using the Japanese maples as these pops of color, using some tall plants as a focal point of the garden, something to draw our eye down the path adds interest to it. Jim has done a beautiful job incorporating all that in. So, because this garden was designed well, a decade from now, 20 years from now, all of this is still going to be harmonious. Regarding Eric’s comment about color, another thing Jim did was add a collection of the Drift series of roses. They are all dwarf roses. He added another series of the knockout roses and they're all represented here. They add color - spring, summer and fall of the year. Color can be mixed in once you get your major groupings in, you can come back and add plants throughout the entire garden. That creates color and then there are a lot of other plants with color that can be added to all these little groupings of four to six. And, they all work together well.

Eric has visited Gibbs Garden for many, many years. And one of the things that makes this garden so exciting for visitors is the fact that Jim was very thoughtful from the outset of every single garden space that he designed, he was very thoughtful about figuring out the pathways first. PATHWAYS ARE VERY, VERY IMPORTANT here at Gibbs Gardens. Jim has used pathways as a way to guide the viewer through the garden, in that way you have some degree of control over the experience, but it also is a way of breaking up these gardens and almost framing them with these beautiful gravel pathways. Jim likes to use a lot of curves. Curvilinear design guides one through, you feel like it's almost a stream. It has movement, like a stream meandering through a valley. One can just picture the water moving through. If the walks are moving you through the garden, they create a lot of interest. All of the walks at Gibbs Gardens are designed to create interest and also to break up the spaces. As one walks, on the right when looking in that direction is one space, to the left is another space. If it's flat there are two spaces. In this garden the elevation changes, so you look to your right, you're looking down over the tops of plants, if you look to the left, you're looking up at the vertical scale of the plants on the hillside. But the walkways definitely lure one into a garden and create excitement. They make you want to just keep moving, to the next curve, then when you get there, the next curve will pull you there. But they lure you as you go along and create the excitement that is needed for gardens. Gardens are exciting, plants make it exciting, paths and walkways make it exciting. Additionally sculptures and added attractions like gazebos or anything like that add interest and create a lot of excitement. Pathways are very important especially since most gardens don't have these significant elevation changes. Without the elevation change the only way we'd be able to view the entirety of the garden would be from, like, a second story window. And that's not the way that we experience gardens. We typically experience gardens from the pathway and even as one looks at this space without the pathways the garden tends to look very much like just a swath of plants and mulch. The pathway is a very, very important piece of hardscape that adds this beautiful kind of like silver frame that flows through the garden, almost like a creek bed. It's amazing. Jim feels that there's nothing worse than a straight path. There may be a space on the right or the left, but they're very boring. Standing here our sight line takes us only to the next curve, when we arrive there, our sight line goes to the next curve, then beyond that there's more excitement. Look at that, there's more excitement, then there's more excitement. One can really get excited when in a garden. Walkways and pathways have to be the first consideration of a garden. Then you work from there.

It goes without saying that the more we learn and the more experience that we have in gardening, the better we will be at it. Jim has a lifetime of knowledge that's been accumulated over decades of being a great designer and a great plantsman. What are some of the things that have been HELPFUL IN THAT JOURNEY? Of course, reading, checking all of the new books, checking websites, viewing websites. He's traveled the world, has seen all of the great gardens. Jim wanted to build a world class garden, but as he looks back, for example, on the conifer garden, Tom Cox is a person that he consulted with. Tom lives close, he knows zone seven and eight. Tom has a book out that's called, “Landscaping With Conifers and Ginkgo For The Southeast.” Tom Cox and John Ruter wrote the book. It's probably the only book for the southeast, if you're looking for conifers for the southeast. But there are many, many conifer books, or go visit other conifer gardens. Of course, it will depend on what plant collection you're thinking about. Check out books on plant collections - for azaleas, another one for conifers, another one for dwarf maples, another one for native azaleas. Then by putting all that information together, you're going to gain tremendous knowledge by reading books and going to the internet. Importantly on the internet, one can see the plants, can see the sizes, the shapes, and the forms. It's very, very easy today. When Jim thinks back to when he graduated from University of Georgia and what little there was available, needless to say there was no internet then, everything had to be through books. But that’s not true today, everything is google this and google that and you've got it in seconds. Now one can look at what the plant looks like in the spring, summer, fall, and winter, which is great. Eric agrees it's a tremendous resource. Of course Jim has a brand new book that's come out ("Gibbs Gardens-Reflections On A Gardening Life”). Eric is really, really excited to get into his book this evening. Eric also thinks that consulting with experts is huge. Jim mentioned Tom's involvement here. Many of our other friends like Brett Markus and Buddy Lee with Encore were involved in this project and were instrumental in kind of the brain trust of making all this come together the way it has. One needs to consult with people that are professional and better than you. Jim has been in this business for over 50 years, yet there's no question he needed Tom Cox for a selection of plants, he needed Brent Markus for the selection of the dwarf maples and some of the conifers. Buddy Lee with Encore azaleas was important to talk with because this garden has such a huge collection. Jim can't imagine undertaking any garden design without that type input. Gibbs Gardens is one of the best American Botanical Gardens. To be in that category with Longwood Gardens and those type gardens that have been there for over a hundred years is humbling. Jim went back and looked at their garden designs a hundred years ago and gained knowledge from them to build this garden that is only 35 years old.

Jim feels the one advantage to being older is you have more wisdom, he's learned more, he may not be any smarter than you, but has more wisdom and that's just because he is a lot older. Jim thinks people need to do their research, you've just got to spend the time. And the many, many hours researching can be enjoyable. We're doing what we love.

There are so many things to consider when designing and building a new garden, but by keeping in mind some simple, foundational tips we’re able to set ourselves up for success. Eric thanks Jim, it's always a treat having him share his knowledge with us, as always it's great seeing him again. Thank you so much. Jim replies that it's so much fun seeing Eric every time. It’s great to be with him again and to share this garden with the GardenSMART audience. Thank you.

GardenSMART returns to Gibbs Gardens next week to discuss installing the plants and fine tuning our design. Be sure to tune in.

LINKS:

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

Jim Gibbs
Jim Gibbs | Gibbs Gardens

Buddy Lee - Encore Azaleas
Meet the Man Behind the South's Iconic Encore Azalea | Southern Living

Brent Markus - Rare Tree Nursery - Japanese Maples
Japanese Maples – Rare Tree Nursery

Tom Cox - Conifers
Cox Arboretum |

Landscaping With Conifers And Ginko For The Southeast
Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast: Cox, Tom, Ruter, John M.: 9780813042480: Amazon.com: Books

Jim Gibbs Book — Gibbs Gardens: Reflection On A Gardening Life
Gibbs Gardens: Reflections on a Gardening Life by James H. Gibbs

Plant List


   
 
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