Three North Metro Atlanta Botanical Gardens You Need To See This Fall

Gibbs Gardens, Atlanta botanical gardens
Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Ga., has a 40-acre Japanese Garden that is the largest of its kind in the nation. Photo courtesy of Gibbs Gardens.

Most residents and visitors to Atlanta are familiar with the popular Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown and Callaway Gardens located south of the city in Pine Mountain. But what about the hidden gems on the city’s north side?

Here are three North Metro Atlanta botanical gardens that deserve a visit this fall when plants like Japanese maples and goldenrod are at the height of their brilliant colors. Take a look at what Gibbs Gardens, Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Gainesville location and Smith-Gilbert Gardens have to offer this season.

Gibbs Gardens

Located on over 200 acres in Ball Ground is Gibbs Gardens, one of the nation’s largest residential estate gardens. Jim Gibbs opened his garden to the public in 2012, about 30 years after he began researching and designing it.

There are 16 gardens on site, including three feature gardens – Manor House Gardens, Waterlily Gardens and Japanese Gardens. It can take visitors three to four hours to see all the gardens on the property. One of the best ways to enjoy the multiple gardens is to visit during the fall festival that happens every weekend from Oct. 7 to 22.

But in October and early November, plan to spend most your time at the Japanese Gardens.

Gibbs Gardens’ 40-acre Japanese Garden in the largest in the nation. It has thousands of Japanese maples that start to display their vibrant autumn colors in late October. If you want to see the Japanese maples at their peak, consider visiting Gibbs Gardens during the “Japanese Maples Colorfest.” The event is every weekend from Oct. 28 through Nov. 26.

But the Japanese Garden isn’t the only garden with autumn colors and flowers in bloom. Throughout the rest of the gardens you can also smell the fragrant flowers of tea olive, see the red foliage of burning bush and catch a glimpse of asters in the meadow.

Atlanta Botanical Garden, GainesvillE

After decades of new programs and plantings at its Midtown location, Atlanta Botanical Garden opened a second location in Gainesville in 2015. Since breaking ground, the site is now home to a visitor center, outdoor gardens, amphitheater and a model train garden.

"Scarecrows in the Garden" is just one of the many events happening in October at the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Gainesville location. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden.
“Scarecrows in the Garden” is just one of the many events happening in October at the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Gainesville location. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden.

One of the featured events of fall is “Scarecrows in the Gainesville Garden” from Oct. 4 through 29. It’s a display of 25 creative scarecrows created by local businesses, school and individuals.

For the kids, there’s “Goblins in the Garden” on Oct. 22. They can come dressed in Halloween costumes, see storytelling and magic performances, and do some fall-themed crafts.

And for adults looking for a unique night out, there’s “Wine in the Woodlands” on Thursday, Oct. 26. It’s a cash bar and appetizer event where you can explore the Woodlands Garden and its brilliantly colored maples. Musician John Amoroso is performing that night.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens

Kennesaw’s Smith-Gilbert Gardens has over 3,000 species of plants as well as the historic Hiram Butler House that dates back to 1880. The house and land were purchased in 1970 by Richard Smith and Robert Gilbert, who spent the next 35 years creating the garden that exists today.

Hiram Butler House
The historic Hiram Butler House at Smith-Gilbert Gardens dates back to 1880. Photo courtesy of City of Kennesaw.

One of the highlights of the Smith-Gilbert Gardens is the many sculptures placed throughout the garden. Thirty pieces are located on the grounds as well as a Japanese-influenced tea house.

This fall, Smith-Gilbert Gardens has events for both children and adults. Oct. 25 is “Garden Stories: P is for Pumpkin,” which is a storytelling morning event with arts and crafts for children ages 3 to 6. Then on Nov. 11 is the “Fourth Annual Day of Bonsai.” This event features an all-day demonstration from a bonsai expert as well as a look at Smith-Gilbert Gardens’ collection, which is the only one of its kind displayed in Georgia.

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