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A curving branch covered with deep red foliage provides the perfect frame for one of 40 hand-carved Japanese lanterns in the Japanese Gardens at Gibbs Gardens. 

Experience the serenity of a traditional Japanese Garden without leaving the country. Gibbs Gardens’ “Tsukiyama,” a Japanese hill-and-pond stroll garden—covering more than 40 acres with seven ponds—is believed to be the largest Japanese Garden in the nation.

Inspired by his travels in Japan, Jim Gibbs, the owner/developer of Gibbs Gardens, started building his Japanese Garden in 1988—he didn’t stop until he had created an inspiring, living work of art.

Gibbs Reflections

The world appears to be upside down with all the reflections of autumn-hued trees in the ponds at the Japanese Gardens. Note the carved Japanese lanterns on the bank, the large stone in the water and a view of a pagoda. 

“The Japanese garden is a balance of natural and man-made beauty, a garden of meditation that delights the senses, challenges the soul and for many is a spiritual experience,” explained Gibbs.

      The spacious garden—with its subtle design, awesome views, natural beauty and carved stone artistry—evokes the sense of serenity, age and character found in ancient Japanese gardens. Visitors say they sense the venerability of this special place, the respect for tradition as they enter the four-season garden through the Torii Gate then follow the meandering path for a gentle walk around spring-fed ponds. Reflections in the seven tranquil ponds mirror the stately trees, colorful flowers and exotic sculptures.

      To add more visual interest and sight lines, Gibbs constructed two islands, one called the Masters Island built as peninsula protrudes into the water. The location offers visitors a breathtaking 360-degree view of the garden.

Gibbs Faill foliage

Reflections in one of seven ponds in the Japanese Garden double the beauty of bright amber fall foliage on these maples. 

Designed to inspire meditation, the Japanese Garden is filled with ancient symbolism. Everything has meaning from the size and shape of stones—some signifying happiness and good fortune—to the ZigZag Bridge built with three turns to chase away evil spirits. When he built this garden, Gibbs carefully scoured three counties looking for huge stones with the perfect size, shape and shades of color for authenticity. Healthy 60-year-old Pfitzer Junipers were located in nearby counties and transplanted to the garden in 1990 then, for more than 30 years, carefully trimmed to create cloud-like layers reminiscent of bonsai in ancient Japanese Gardens.

His collection of 40 Japanese stone lanterns—hand-carved by Japanese traditional artisans—is placed around the garden as it would be for a tea ceremony. Several Japanese pagodas are positioned throughout the gardens; one is flanked by two hand-carved stone kirin, a mythical creature with dragon heads, lion tails, hoofs of a bull and a fish-scale body.

Gibbs pagoda

This view is a wonderful example of the balance of natural and man-made objects that is so critical to Japanese garden design. The natural colors of fall foliage provide a colorful backdrop to the elegant design of the pagoda. 

    More than 170 varieties of plantings—from ground cover and perennials to vines, shrubs and trees—create a magnificent, but subtly changing, living balance to the traditional man-made Japanese elements. Millions of ferns, along with native azalea, dogwood, mountain laurel and cherry trees bloom in spring. In fall thousands of Japanese maples of every size, shade and variety steal the show with a vibrant display of red, orange, amber and burgundy color. Southern Living magazine featured the spectacular display in “Light Up the Lands,” a four full-page spread of photos and copy. (Nov. 2013)

    Photographers are drawn to the Japanese Gardens and the opportunity for an infinite variety of magnificent photos—from dragonflies hovering over cobalt blue water iris to reflections of billowing clouds and vibrant fall foliage in the ponds.

     A visit to Gibbs Gardens’ “Tsukiyama,” is an unforgettable experience.


About Gibbs Gardens

Gibbs Gardens is a 336-acre private garden open to the public developed and designed by Jim Gibbs, founder of Gibbs Landscape Company—one of the most successful firms in the South. Recognized as one of the Thirteen Best Botanical Gardens in America and recently named the top garden in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal, Gibbs Gardens always has something new in bloom. The five feature gardens and 21 seasonal collections gardens offer unique and continuous delights for garden lovers of all interests. To learn more about Gibbs Gardens go to

- Oct. 1 - Nov. 21: Tuesday to Sunday

-  Nov. 24 - Dec. 5: Wednesday to Sunday

-  Thanksgiving - Nov. 25: Closed

                                                                                                     Submitted by Gibbs Gardens