An hour ride north of Atlanta will bring you to Ball Ground, Ga., and the magnificent Gibbs Gardens. Here you will find an unforgettable 300-acre estate garden where 220 artistically landscaped acres blend seamlessly with the grandeur of nature.  These gardens are 30 years in the making by owner Jim Gibbs who recently opened it to the public.

My earlier visit to the garden was in the spring and I was astounded by more than 50 acres of blooming daffodils.  This time I am accompanied by husband, Norm Hall, and friends, Sherry and Roger Cox of Destin. We enter the garden over a wooden bridge, the sides covered with 100 containers of overflowing flowers of every size, shape and brilliant color. The crisp, cool air signals the coming of fall and the softly tumbling leaves from their branches are like fairy dust falling throughout the tranquil gardens.

We decide to take the tram up to the Manor House Gardens.  The Manor House is located on the highest crest in Cherokee County, overlooking the North Georgia Mountains.  The house is a private residence done in English/French architectural style. A short walk away we find ourselves at the guest house overlooking a swimming pool where I could spend all the rest of my life.

With a waterfall surrounded by a profusion of flowers, I think we must have stumbled into Shangri-la.

We decide to walk the smooth, turning walkways that lead down 150 feet of elevation.  Every step is filled with beauty along the seven flowering terraces, soaring hardwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and wildflowers that bloom in season.

Returning down to the Valley Gardens we enter the largest Japanese Gardens in America covering more than 40 acres and containing 2,000 Japanese maples.  The quiet, still ponds reflect the towering trees and bring a bit of peace to your heart.  The large willows drape their branches to the water as if to show homage. Here you will also find Grandchildren’s Garden, where eleven bronze sculptures representing each of Jim Gibb’s grandchildren frolicking into a pose depicting their favorite pastime.

The Waterlily Garden finds a replica of Claude Monet’s bridge in Giverny spanning across one of the ponds. Featured here are 140 varieties of unique lilies in every color of the rainbow.

For lunch, try salads or sandwiches made with fresh baked cranberry walnut bread from the Arbor Cafe’.   Tables and chairs sit under majestic hardwoods by the side of red maples just starting their blaze of glory.

For information, call 770-893-1880 or  Check out the Japanese Maple Festival now until Nov 15.

Laura Hall is a longtime Destin resident. She writes about gardens and other local topics.  Got a good topic, contact her at