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At the Gardens

Smith-Gilbert Gardens has something for everyone: beautiful gardens, intriguing outdoor sculptures, and the historic Hiram Butler House. Simply roll-over the map to learn more about the Gardens.

 Informational Kiosk Located at the entry to the Conifer Collection a kiosk provides a map of the Conifer Garden and associated information on this fascinating group of plants. Other general Garden materials are also presented in this sheltered spot. Conifer Garden Created in 2002, this area of the Garden features conifers that are suitable for the Southeastern U.S. Most are dwarf or slow growing making them desirable for use in the smaller lots of today’s homes. The signs located by many of the plants give the botanical name and the year in which the plant was installed in the Garden. This gives an interested gardener an idea of form and growth rates for that particular specimen. Recognized by the Southeast American Conifer Society. Fifteen different classifications of daffodils are scattered throughout the Garden as companion plantings. Smith-Gilbert is a proud member of both the American Conifer Society and the American Daffodil Society. Woodland Walk A few feet into this shady area reveals the presence of “Dead Man” a Kenneth Greenleaf sculpture. Further down the path are “Two Indian Figures” gliding through the trees. Constructed by John Payne, they are fanciful representations of how adults might appear to children. Also in this area is a Hosta collection donated by the Georgia Hosta Society. Along with many other shade-loving perennials (Hellebores, Epimediums, Jack-in-the-Pulpit), groups of these attractive plants are scattered throughout the Garden. Knowlton Meadow This open space features two important sculptures. The whimsical painted ball by Grace Knowlton is untitled. “The Great Oracle” by Jon Isherwood is a few feet away from the portal to the mysterious trail leading to more hidden delights. The Mulberry Bowl and Respite Sculpture Originally imported into this country for the silk trade, Mulberry trees have escaped into the environment and naturalized. Bent by an unknown cause this particular tree frames a favorite focal point at Smith-Gilbert, “Respite” by Frank Creech. Japanese Maple Grove While the Garden has many Japanese Maple specimens scattered throughout the grounds, this section has a wonderful concentration of these smaller growing trees. Impressive for their texture, form, and seasonal color, Smith-Gilbert is home to over 30 varieties of this very popular ornamental. Just a short distance down the path is “Bust” by Howard Taikeff who engaged a New York City street person as his model. Walking a bit further, one encounters “Clary Lake” by Kenneth Greenleaf. A delightful blend of wood and metal, this piece is one of five at Smith-Gilbert by this sculptor. Cedar Field and Rose Garden A handsome Eastern Red Cedar stands as a sentinel in the middle of this grassy expanse, but he is not lonely. Surrounded by lovingly cared for roses, visitors will appreciate their fragrance and beauty from May through late summer. The dates on the signs are the year in which the rose was first hybridized, bred, or found in nature. Like pearls on a necklace, several contemporary sculptures ring the grassy area beyond. Most noteworthy are Ed Chrisman’s piece “Untitled” and “Antiope” by Kenneth Greenleaf. Carl Andre Davidt’s “Man in the Moon” is a colorful period to the statement in this area. Our rose garden is recognized by the American Rose Society Camellia Garden
Proceeding further on the trail, take the gray slate path to your left and enter our newest addition. Given in memory of the donor’s parents, these camellias are at their best during the fall and winter months. As these plantings mature, this ‘room’ will be an attraction on its own. Cut from a single piece of red granite, “Las Mesas Tree” by Jesus Bautista Morales is interesting from every view. From one perspective, the rock appears to be vertical.
 Garden BirthplaceHeading towards the Carriage House, observe “Woman and Dog” by Marcia Pels. At this point, you are at the heart of the Garden. Shaded by an ample pecan tree, Smith and Gilbert began their labor of love here. At the edge of this space are five prayer flags inscribed with messages that are meant to bring happiness, long life, and prosperity to those in their vicinity. The colors represent the elements of earth, water, fire, cloud, and sky. As the soft cloth tatters in the breeze, printed prayers float into the world on gentle winds. Rock Garden Following your senses of sight and sound, look and listen as water plays its melody. Moving by Linda Cunningham’s “Transformation”, stroll into Richard Smith’s favorite spot. In developing this woodland setting, Smith and Gilbert were inspired by the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. Nestled among Cryptomeria, you are invited to rest a moment in the Japanese influenced Tea House. Crossing to Safety Allow Marcia Pel’s “Bird in Hand” to entice your feet over the narrow stone bridge and to the other side of the water feature. Travel upslope through a native understory of oak and hickory. This area of the Garden, including the water feature, was developed in the early 1990′s and is a beloved site for respite and tranquility. Gather ‘n’ Grow Dedicated to dirty hands and happy hearts, this garden is a space for playful learning. It features paths winding through sensory plantings to please the senses, an “A to Z” bed (with plantings starting with each letter of the alphabet), vegetable beds, and whimsical elements like chime arbors, bubble pools and animal topiaries. Rasied beds are available to families and individuals participating in the Veggie Plot Series, an educational program about sustainable and responsible vegetable gardening. Bonsai Garden A favorite among visitors and staff, our bonsai collection is a particular source of pride. Replicating small scaled scenes, these dwarf trees are a delight and wonder to all. Careful watering, pruning, and concern are necessary in order to train these plants to survive in confined conditions. Our Bonsaid Garden is the only one on public display in the state of Georgia. Plant Sale Area Located in the lathe house (adjacent to the bonsai collection)is an area devoted to selling some of the plants you will findgrowing at SGG. Take a piece of happiness home! Perennial Garden The diversity of horticultural experience had its seeds in the varied interests of Gilbert and Smith. Dr. Gilbert discovered his focus was with trees, shrubs, and other woody plants. Richard Smith enjoyed working with perennials and rock garden plantings. Located at one end of the perennial bed, Tom Suomalainen’s porcelain “Transformation” anchors this lovely herbaceous arrangement that is in continual color from spring into late fall. From daffodils to daylilies, from bearded iris to vivid asters, this perennial garden is a continually changing palette. Hiram Butler House (and Gift Shop!) Purchased by Robert Gilbert and Richard Smith in 1970, this elegant house underwent significant renovations their first years of ownership. As a result of this painstaking restoration, the home is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Carl Andre Davidt, Around the Corner, 1981 Kenneth Greenleaf, Dead Man, 1989 John Payne, Two Indian Figures, 1981 Grace Knowlton, Untitled, 1991 Jon Isherwood, The Great Oracle, 1998-2000 Gabriel Halevi, Untitled, 1986 Frank Creech, Respite, 1980 Carl Andre Davidt, Man in the Moon, 1981 Howard Taikeff, Bust, 1985 Edward Chrisman, Untitled, 1984 Kenneth Greenleaf, Clary Lake, 1989 John Van Alstine, Unda, 1995 Kenneth Greenleaf, Antiope, 1987″ Edward Chrisman, Untitled, 1986 Jesus Bautista Moroles, Las Mesas Tree, 1986-87 Kevin Radu, Untitled, 1990 Marsh Pels, Woman and Dog, 1986 Raul Farco, Forest #9, 1989 Norman Schulman, Harlequin, 1981 Kenneth Greenleaf, Untitled, 1990 Linda Cunningham, Transformations, 1994 Kenneth Greenleaf, East is East, 1984 Marsh Pels, Bird in Hand, 1982-84 Raul Farco, Pedraza, 1989 Jon Hudson, Ts-ung Tube XXII, 1985″ Manual Martin, Untitled, 1986 Howard Ben Tré, Cast from 55, 1985 David Wall, Magnolia Gate & 2 Benches, 1980 Tom Suomalainen, Transformation, 1990 David Wall, Mushrooms, 1980

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