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GardenSMART Episode

Show #47/6208. Planning & Planting A Garden #1

Summary of Show

Background Of Gibbs Gardens
GIBBS GARDENS is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Jim has been working on this for 35 years, so how does this new garden fit into what is already here? Jim started the gardens, as mentioned, 35 years ago. He wanted to design plant collections so that he could actually educate and inspire future generations. For More Information Click Here

Challenges Of The Site
There were many CHALLENGES initially with the site, not the least of which was mother nature but also just dealing with something as expansive as 10 acres. Talk us through the process of cleaning up after the hurricane and the challenges that came with that. After hurricane Irma came in a couple of years ago they had to deal with all of the removal of trees. Once the trees were removed from the space they had to look at the spaces they were going to be working with.
For More Information Click Here

What To Do With The Space
After Irma, which was a tropical storm once it came to this area, when Jim came out and saw this area he was in total shock, he just could not imagine WHAT HE COULD DO WITH THE SPACE. Trees were down everywhere, and all he could think about was, “What am I going to be able to do?”
For More Information Click Here

The Walkways
As Jim first does in any garden, he tries to look at the WALKWAYS. The walkways are what guide the viewer through the garden and what they're going to be able to see. So he had to first, and he knows from experience, always try to follow the topography. Once you follow the topography, you will have more gentle level walkways. This hillside was so hilly, he knew it was going to be a difficult task to do that.
For More Information Click Here

Adding Soil
That means thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS OF CUBIC YARDS OF SOIL go into this. And that is an important part of the planning for a garden, being able to look at a space and think in advance about those kind of things that are very difficult to change after the fact. If one doesn't get the paths correct then it becomes an uncomfortable garden for people to navigate. It’s very, very hard to go back later and change that.
For More Information Click Here

Irrigation
Jim knows that the next thing he'll want to do is put the IRRIGATION in. Most of the irrigation lines, the main lines, are going to follow the walkways. So if you've put those in or planned where those will go, you know when you start planting, you're able to immediately start watering your plants.
For More Information Click Here

Plant Selection
The first thing Jim does on all of his designs is after he has the walkways in place and begins THINKING ABOUT PLANT SELECTION, he wants to first think about the sun requirements. If you're dealing with full sun, you need six hours or more per day. if you're dealing with part sun, you need four to six hours. if you're dealing with part shade, you want to have four to six hours, but it needs to be more morning sun, not the hot afternoon sun. So he looks at the site and decides what plants will go in each of those areas. But it all depends on the sun/shade requirements.
For More Information Click Here

Seeking Guidance For Plant Selection
Jim would recommend that EVERYONE FIRST GO TO THE WEBSITE of the plant(s) in question, study the website. If you know somebody that's more of a professional, talk to those people, get them to help you with your plant selection. If you don't select the right plants for your zone, you're in trouble right away. You're going to plant plants and you're going to lose them. You invested money and it's a total loss.
For More Information Click Here

Jim’s Vision For The Inspiration Garden
Well, JIM’S VISION, of course, for Gibbs Gardens is to feature plant collections. They already have 16 garden venues, each of those garden venues feature different plant collections, so he wanted to feature some plants that he presently did not have. He had always wanted to have a plant collection of conifers, but wanted them to be all dwarf conifers.
For More Information Click Here

Why Dwarf Plants
Eric loves the use of DWARF PLANTS, he uses them all the time in his gardening. One of the most obvious, practical reasons to use dwarf plants is that we can have a lot more plants in a given space and we don't have to worry so much about, as an example, a deodar cedar that, at some point in time, is going to be 40 feet wide and 70 feet tall. That size obviously limits the way we can use a space.
For More Information Click Here

Jim agrees, it's definitely A FOUR SEASON GARDEN and you have all these beautiful colors, even in the wintertime when everything else is bleak and all the leaves have dropped off of the trees, one comes into the conifer garden and your spirits are lifted, you feel good. The morning sun with all of these colors of blue-grays, and grays, and greens, and chartreuses, they just make you feel good.
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 |

Plant List

Show #47/6208. Planning & Planting A Garden #1

Transcript of Show

In this Episode GardenSMART revisits one of our favorite southeastern gardens to discuss the birth of their brand new Inspiration Garden. We've followed the development of this garden for the past two years and are excited to finally see it all coming to fruition.

Installing a new garden can be quite an undertaking, there's so much work that happens before the first spade hits the soil. Ideas become a solidified vision that begins to instruct the more tangible plans. From there the fine-tune detail work brings more focus and shape to the project and we begin to get a sense of the heart and soul of the emerging garden.

Gibbs Gardens is comprised of 16 unique gardens that have been developed over the past 40 years. Jim Gibbs has an insatiable desire to keep creating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with garden design. Gibbs Gardens is an ever-evolving work of art and today we explore its next chapter. Joining us is the gardens owner, Jim Gibbs, who is a brilliant plantsman, garden designer, and longtime friend.

Eric welcomes Jim back to the show. It's always a pleasure spending a day with you. Jim thanks Eric, it's great to see you again.

GIBBS GARDENS is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Jim has been working on this for 35 years, so how does this new garden fit into what is already here? Jim started the gardens, as mentioned, 35 years ago. He wanted to design plant collections so that he could actually educate and inspire future generations. They started out with the 16 gardens that were here before the Inspiration Garden, the name of this garden. He had over 10 acres in this one area and knew that he wanted a conifer collection along with dwarf ginkgos, a collection of those are in the garden and they work well with the conifers. They also have incorporated a collection of a hundred rare dissectum laceleaf Japanese maples, which work well. As well they have a collection of the acer palmatum, which is a larger Japanese maple, over 135 new ones in this garden. They already have over 3,000 Japanese maples of over 300 varieties that are throughout Gibbs Gardens. Plus Jim included a collection of Encore azaleas and roses.

There were many CHALLENGES initially with the site, not the least of which was mother nature but also just dealing with something as expansive as 10 acres. Talk us through the process of cleaning up after the hurricane and the challenges that came with that. After hurricane Irma came in a couple of years ago they had to deal with all of the removal of trees. Once the trees were removed from the space they had to look at the spaces they were going to be working with. They had some open areas that of course were then full sun. This was initially a wooded lot, just like all the surrounding area, a lot of trees. So they came in and divided this up into spaces so they could work with each space and develop plant collections within the spaces. Jim started there and decided what collections they would use on the site and began to put the plan together because he had to deal with full sun or part shade or part sun. This was a challenge, to say the least, because the topography is very steep in here and the area is such a huge open space. They fortunately did have some trees that Irma didn't touch and was able to work with those trees. So the process began, Jim worked through those topography issues until he got everything ready to start the planning of the plants that would go into the site.
Eric thinks that’s one thing that is wonderful about Gibbs Gardens and something he notices every time he visits. It’s a huge garden, but with all these small intimate spaces throughout Eric can get ideas and inspiration for his own garden. Because around every corner there is a new, independent, little, small garden that's connected by these beautiful switchbacks and trails that take us through this wooded area. It's really, really nicely done.
Starting a new garden can feel like a daunting task. But it also is a really, really exciting part in the process because that is the time we have this blank canvas and we can start to imagine what the potential of that space is and what it can be. That planning is very, very, important. Eric would like for Jim to talk about how he looked at this space, what was the process behind figuring how he wanted this land to be used.

After Irma, which was a tropical storm once it came to this area, when Jim came out and saw this area he was in total shock, he just could not imagine WHAT HE COULD DO WITH THE SPACE. Trees were down  everywhere, and all he could think about was, “What am I going to be able to do?" Once they got the trees out he had to think about the different areas, what would be sun, or part sun, or part shade. Then, as in any garden, you have to think about, “ How are we going to be able to get the traffic flow through the garden? How can people be able to meander and really enjoy a beautiful space?” He had to take this ugly space, which was a bunch of lemons, and make lemonade out of it. So how do I do that? 

As Jim first does in any garden, he tries to look at the WALKWAYS. The walkways are what guide the viewer through the garden and what they're going to be able to see. So he had to first, and he knows from experience, always try to follow the topography. Once you follow the topography, you will have more gentle level walkways. This hillside was so hilly, he knew it was going to be a difficult task to do that. What he had to do was first think about, “How do we complete those walkways?” He knew to get a gentle slope they were going to have to bring in a tremendous amount of fill dirt.
There's a tremendous amount of elevation change here. Presently they're down in the valley, but looking up to the top of this garden, Eric guesses the change is 60, 70 feet of elevation change just from where we are here.
Jim comments - 150 feet. Now that's to the manor house. So from where we're standing now to the crest, that's 150 feet of change all the way up to the house. But this garden is probably just half of that so Eric is right, it's about 70, 75 feet of change in elevation in this one area.

That means thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS OF CUBIC YARDS OF SOIL go into this. And that is an important part of the planning for a garden, being able to look at a space and think in advance about those kind of things that are very difficult to change after the fact. If one doesn't get the paths correct then it becomes an uncomfortable garden for people to navigate. It’s very, very hard to go back later and change that. That's why the planning and having a budget is a huge part of the bones of a garden that ultimately allow it to be something that will survive for generations and be something the public will enjoy well after all of us are gone. What Eric just said is so true. Even if it's a very small garden, or a medium-sized garden, even a very large garden like this, over 10 acres, one does the same thing.
Eric is just embarking on a new space and it's going to be a very, very small garden. He moved recently and there's nothing back there except for one water oak. That's it. So Eric is presently thinking about all of the things that Jim's talking about - how is the space going to be used, how is it going to be navigated, and getting the structural parts of it correct upfront. So even though Eric's is a small 30 foot by 30 foot space that he's tackling, all of these principles translate to a garden of any size. Jim agrees. Follow these guidelines for a small garden, a medium-sized garden, or a very large garden. It doesn't make any difference.

In the progression of developing this new space, Jim has graded out the pathways, so we know the way that the space is going to be used. What do you do next, Jim? Jim knows that the next thing he'll want to do is put the IRRIGATION in. Most of the irrigation lines, the main lines, are going to follow the walkways. So if you've put those in or planned where those will go, you know when you start planting, you're able to immediately start watering your plants.
One of the mistakes that Eric has made many, many times as a gardener is not giving enough thought to exactly what plants are going to go where. We're in love with thousands and thousands of different plants and we have ideas as to which colors or textures might look good together. How do you go about the process of thinking about,  "Okay, for this section of this garden, I want these specific plants to go there?"

The first thing Jim does on all of his designs is after he has the walkways in place and begins THINKING ABOUT PLANT SELECTION, he wants to first think about the sun requirements. If you're dealing with full sun, you need six hours or more per day. if you're dealing with part sun, you need four to six hours. if you're dealing with part shade, you want to have four to six hours, but it needs to be more morning sun, not the hot afternoon sun. So he looks at the site and decides what plants will go in each of those areas. But it all depends on the sun/shade requirements.
Jim also looks and thinks about the plant hardiness. He's in zone seven and eight. So when you're in zone seven or eight, you've got to think about what plants are going to grow in that zone. Too many people put plants in that will freeze out, and then lose all plant material, so you do have to think about your plant hardiness and the zone that you're in.
Of course for you as a gardener, Jim, you're drawing on decades of experience when it comes to the individual plants that you select. What's some advice that you would have for our viewers in thinking about, let's say they want to put in a conifer collection garden, what type of resources should they draw on to make those selections? Jim has been in the business for 50 years. He loves conifers, he knows conifers. But for this particular area, being a zone seven, Jim wanted to go to a person he knew had planted a lot of conifers and knew conifers. Tom Cox is a conifer expert, he's a dendrologist. Jim knew he wanted to call Tom and talk to him about what would grow in this area.

Jim would recommend that EVERYONE FIRST GO TO THE WEBSITE of the plant(s) in question, study the website. If you know somebody that's more of a professional, talk to those people, get them to help you with your plant selection. If you don't select the right plants for your zone, you're in trouble right away. You're going to plant plants and you're going to lose them. You invested money and it's a total loss.
Absolutely. And that goes back to what we were talking about earlier. That’s one of the values of these amazing public gardens like Gibbs Gardens. Eric is in zone eight as well, so for him as a gardener, if he's unsure about what is going to perform in his garden, places like this are incredibly informative and educational. They also help us to avoid a lot of the mistakes that could be made in the garden. Eric is able to come over here, take notes, see what's thriving and maybe what's not, and learn from that and implement that in his own space.
Jim's purpose and goal here was to actually design and install plant collections that would educate and inspire future generations. So it's like Eric said, Gibbs Gardens has 336 acres, they have 16 garden venues now, and adding five more for 21. So one can come and look at all the plants, take notes, see how they grow, and study them better.
Eric is eager to talk about the plant collections here, but first would like to dive into what Jim's inspiration and vision was for this space. Kind of like a 30,000 foot view of what he really wanted this space to be once the trails were in, irrigation's in. You’ve thought about sun, shade requirements what then was your vision for this space?

Well, JIM’S VISION, of course, for Gibbs Gardens is to feature plant collections. They already have 16 garden venues, each of those garden venues feature different plant collections, so he wanted to feature some plants that he presently did not have. He had always wanted to have a plant collection of conifers, but wanted them to be all dwarf conifers. The thought was if he could create on these three, four levels, which would look like a natural hillside of conifers, the conifer area would occupy one space. Remember these are dwarf conifers, not the big tall conifers that take up lots of space. So dwarf conifers.
Then he wanted to have a collection of Encore azaleas because they're evergreen. The Encore azalea will bloom more than one time a year. They have Encore's here that will bloom, some two and some three times a year. And of course he would use the Encore because it also grows in full sun, which most people don't realize.
The other thing he wanted to do was to have a collection of native azaleas. With the native azaleas, they're deciduous, he wanted them to be in the background of the Encore azaleas. He presently has 1,800 native azaleas with over 100 varieties. Probably the largest in the southeast. With the new Encore azaleas, they have all 33 varieties and have over 1,200 encore azaleas following the walkways. 
Then Jim wanted to add a collection of rare and unusual dwarf Japanese maples. They work well with the conifers, so put those in with the conifers. 
He also wanted a dwarf ginkgo collection. They work well with conifers because they are a part of the conifer family.
Then what Jim wanted to do was to add some color for spring, summer, and fall thus added the drift series of roses, which are all dwarf and low maintenance. And he wanted to have the series of knockout roses, because they, of course, give you color during the spring, summer, and fall.

Eric loves the use of DWARF PLANTS, he uses them all the time in his gardening. One of the most obvious, practical reasons to use dwarf plants is that we can have a lot more plants in a given space and we don't have to worry so much about, as an example, a deodar cedar that, at some point in time, is going to be 40 feet wide and 70 feet tall. That size obviously limits the way we can use a space. Also for visitors to the garden, it's wonderful to be able to walk through these gardens and actually see hundreds of different plants. It's a really, really smart way of putting the garden together.
Jim worked with Brent Markus, who we've had on the show, he's a wonderful conifer expert. He was instrumental in some ways in selecting the plants that were used here. The dwarf Japanese maples all came from Brent and Rare Tree Nursery, which is in Oregon near the Portland area. 
The conifers came from different people. Tom Cox, is the authority on conifers for our area. Jim asked Tom to come up with a selection of all the conifers that would live in zone seven and eight. Once Jim got the selection, he then put the plants together, depending on their form, their texture and color. Jim then grouped them that way.
It’s important to remember that conifers and dwarf plants are the lowest maintenance of all plants. Maintenance can be very expensive, so the homeowner needs to think about that cost. One doesn’t need to prune them a lot, you prune some, but very, very little pruning and they always stay within the space. Look at the tag on the plant when selecting your plants because the tag will tell the exact spacing, how large they will get in 10 years, you know everything when you start. So maintenance is a big consideration.
Eric would like to talk a little bit about the Encore azalea collection here. Buddy Lee is the person that worked on the breeding program for the Encore azaleas. Jim asked Buddy to come up from Louisiana, that's where he lives, and they talked about the Encore azaleas and the Encores that Jim wanted to feature. Of course, Jim wanted to feature all of his varieties and was thrilled with Buddy’s ideas. Buddy gave Jim all kinds of tips on Encore azaleas, they talked for probably a half day or three-fourths of a day about just Encore azaleas. Buddy's an interesting person and very, very knowledgeable, he loves plants and plant collections, and has put his life and his heart into the Encore azalea collection. It's a wonderful collection. The colors are magnificent. He has dwarf ones and intermediate varieties, and you can select whatever you want. Jim color-coordinated all of his Encore azaleas based on his talks with Buddy, which ones would perform best in our zone. They  worked together, it was a great experience.
Eric comments that this new collection, the Inspiration Garden, is a great addition to Gibbs Gardens. It wouldn't matter if he was here in January or June or September, this garden is always going to be beautiful and it's always, more or less, going to look the same.

Jim agrees, it's definitely A FOUR SEASON GARDEN and you have all these beautiful colors, even in the wintertime when everything else is bleak and all the leaves have dropped off of the trees, one comes into the conifer garden and your spirits are lifted, you feel good. The morning sun with all of these colors of blue-grays, and grays, and greens, and chartreuses, they just make you feel good.
And that's one of the amazing things about gardens, it's why we love visiting gardens, it's why we love gardening ourselves because of what it does for our hearts, and it does bring happiness to people. The process of embarking on a new garden, or a garden expansion, is so exciting to watch. We've followed the development of this Inspiration Garden for the past two years, and are excited to finally see it all coming to fruition. Jim, what an amazing job you've done here. It's always a pleasure to spend time with you, thank you so much for sharing the time. We’ll be back next week to see how this project is progressing.
Jim in turn thanks Eric and GardenSMART. Thank you for coming, he enjoyed it.

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 |

Plant List


   
 
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By Kelsey Minalga, Ball Ingenuity
Photographs courtesy of Ball Ingenuity

The flower industry is busy bringing new and exciting fall plants to the mix. And one of the most popular accent plants for the season is celosia, also know by the common name cockscomb. To learn more click here .


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