Jim Gibbs traveled for 15 years covering the nation and the world viewing gardens of every style and decided that he wanted to design and build a world class garden. He spent six years looking for a suitable site with a strong source of water and beautiful mature trees covering a rolling topography. It was truly “a dream come true” when he found the most beautiful site in the nation to construct the garden. The property is 292 acres and the house and gardens include 220 acres, making it one of the nation’s largest residential estate gardens.
There is a beautiful stream flowing through the middle of the valley, with hundreds of springs intersecting the stream. The springs are surrounded by millions of naturalized ferns making it one of the largest ferneries in the nation. Native azaleas, dogwoods, and mountain laurels provide additional seasonal interest.
He has designed 24 ponds, 32 bridge crossings and 19 waterfalls. The numerous garden rooms are planted with hundreds of varieties of plants and are carved into pockets surrounded by acres of deciduous trees that provide spectacular Fall color.
The house is a mix of European architecture. The north view is reminiscent of an English manor house with Palladian windows and doors. An archway connects the summer house which overlooks the gardens and in the near distance, the north Georgia mountains.
Architectural accents were purchased in Europe prior to building and used throughout the house, including a twelve foot 14th century French limestone fireplace, 17th century French interior doors and 18th century French beveled and leaded glass doors and windows. Antique heart pine and herringbone brick floors blend nicely with the iron staircase railing and European antique furnishings.
The grounds around the Manor House were started in 1980 and planted with 20 to 30 year old plants and trees to provide instant age and character. Large Japanese maples, American hollies and willow oaks were planted closer to the house with vines accenting the corners. The home site is one of the highest crests in northeast Cherokee County, Georgia, capturing a beautiful view of the north Georgia mountains. The house was placed 150 feet above the water gardens and 30 feet below the crest capturing the air currents to flow through the summer house.
The gardens are composed of 16 gardens including 3 feature gardens – Manor House Gardens, Japanese and Waterlily Gardens.