The Smith-Gilbert Gardens are very scenic with a great number of exotic and native plants. They are an exciting way to connect with nature. I was going to write two posts on this garden but there were just too many sights to describe and too many images to capture. Even though it is not large, the contemporary sculptures, the tea house, the ponds, waterfall, conifer display, rose garden, bonsai garden or just the peaceful ambiance of the garden makes it a very special place to visit. (Please click on the pictures and collages twice to see all the details.)
A border of zinnias was calling to me to have their photos taken. Voila…
Others enjoyed these flowers as well.
While I was taking my zinnia pictures, my husband was admiring the bonsai garden.
Dr. Bob and Richard Smith were Atlanta Bonsai Society members and created this bonsai collection over 35-years. This is the only public bonsai garden in Georgia. We kept walking and passed the area offering for sale some of the plants growing in the garden.
Turning around a shady trellis
we entered the Begonia Collection.
Passing by large borders of coleus
we saw a small pond on the side of the house
They moved so quickly that it was hard to photograph them. My camera is not quick enough – I would think I had taken the whole koi and only had its tail or its head.
While I was trying to capture the koi with my camera, Missy, the house guardian, was watching me with interest.
My husband had gone ahead toward the bird feeders.
This was a nice bird habitat with bird feeders and the bird bath is a sculpture by Seattle artist Jon Hudson.
The little birds had plenty to eat in their feeders.
These gardens are such a hidden gem that we decided to become members and went back to the desk at the house. While I took a peek at the gift shop my husband found Missy, the house dog.
The volunteer at the house gave us more information on the house and gardens. When Mr. Smith died in March 2002, Dr. Bob worried that the property could get into the hands of developers who would subdivide the land and bulldoze the gardens. Wishing to preserve the unique character of his historic house (circa 1882) and gardens, Dr. Bob Gilbert started negotiations to sell it to the city of Kennesaw. The City of Kennesaw bought the property in late 2004 for $2 million with funds from a $12 million parks and recreation bond. A 505 (c) (3) charitable foundation was formed to support the gardens and the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County partnered with the City to help maintain the gardens.
Dr. Bob remained on the property until the fall of 2009 waiting for the completion of his new home in Franklin, North Carolina. He visits the gardens often to work with the Bonsai Study Group. Dr. Bob now writes a column on horticulture in the Franklin Press. We found out that by becoming members of the Smith-Gilbert Gardens we became members of the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admission Program – which gives us free access to about 120 gardens in the United States and some in Canada. C’est magnifique – I see more gardens, trees and flowers in my future!
Another car was parked next to ours. In the back it had a little panel that read “Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County.” Someone was taking care of the gardens.
As I was slowly driving away my husband suddenly said “stop.” He had seen a couple of does in the rear-view mirror. I quickly picked up my Sony DSC-HX1 which has a better telephoto lens than my Nikon D40. I could not open the car door or move too much as I was afraid I would scare the does away – luckily the car windows were open - so I aimed my camera backward while looking in the rear-view mirror. I think that the photos are not too bad considering that I was pointing the camera to the rear in a blind way (.. and I shot mostly the rear of the animals…).
We will certainly come back to visit these gardens throughout the year to witness its seasonal beauty. To wander into natural environments and beautiful gardens keeps us mentally happy. A garden such as this one, so close to our home, and where we can bring a thermos of coffee, a couple of biscotti, a good book and can relax in the pretty picnic area or on one of the many benches, is a treasure that we are pleased to have found. It is no longer a secret to us.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.