West Cobb Magazine

Kennesaw – Smith Gilbert Gardens

Johnson Design Groupwww.johnsondesigngroup.com














The Smith-Gilbert Garden, formerly the Smith-Gilbert Arboretum is owned by the city of Kennesaw. This secret garden is not grand or forbidding, but approachable and well loved. If you live in the area, you have found a fertile resource. The core of the 13 acre estate features a Greek revival facade plantation from the mid-18th Century. Early settlers built this 4,500 acre cotton plantation, which was a working farm well into the 20th century.

  Dr. Gilbert acquired the property and over a five year period in the mid 50’s when he restored the house, which has become a significance landmark to the community, and many historical details have added to the ambience of the home.

In my opinion, personal observation and visits to the homes and gardens are the best way to fully appreciate their beauty. Doug Davis, the director of docents at SG, is the guide of the garden and his influence on the tour is unmistakable. His knowledge of native materials, insights behind the strong Asian influences, and humorous stories are a wealth of inspiration and practical know-how that makes it possible for all levels of gardeners to glean ideas to create their own masterpiece gardens.

Smith Gilbert 1The SG garden is a lush, horticultural masterpiece which has an extensive collection of native and unusual plants. Smith and Gilbert were avid art collectors and artists who used the landscape as their canvas. They spent decades shaping ever-evolving landscapes that served as an outdoor gallery for the sculptures that they collected during their travels. The sculpture is not the dominate theme, they were able to successfully capture the spirit of the Japanese garden design. The Asian philosophy is that art doesn’t dominate nature, nature influences art. The overall garden has a firm structure but each individual garden, from waterfalls to vegetables and from meadows to woodlands, is easily understood on a small scale.

The SG garden can provide gardeners of varying skills a great deal of direction for their own gardens. Whether you want to create an all-seasons garden, with the focus on blooming assessments and color composition, or Sclupture of Dr. Gilbert greets visitors as they stroll through the Smith-Gilbert Garden he established over 50 years ago.

Smith Gilbert 8Understand planting, choosing the best bulbs to extend the season, the SG garden offers  it all. It is designed so both amateur and professional landscapers can visit the garden and find plants that grow well in the Southeast.

One of the gardens, Plant-A-Row for the Hungry Vegetable Garden, offers a unique green space for benefit. It is an outreach benefiting the Food Bank and is in partnership with agencies across Georgia.

It’s amazing how much exciting history is right here so close to home. What was once the private oasis for a couple is now a vibrant teaching and learning sanctuary. It is a unique cultural and environmental asset for Kennesaw.   


Guests are encouraged to visit the gardens throughout the year to witness the everchanging beauty in its seasonal glory. Wander through nature, get lost in history, in short spend some quality time together. To  see more of the gardens, just click on the slide show link. Smith Gilbert Gardens Slide Show

Smith Gilbert 2

Smith Gilbert Gardens – 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw, GA 30152

Open to the Public –Fridays 9am-4pm and Saturdays by Appointment Call 770-424-8274

About the Author: Ann Johnson is a West Cobb based landscape architect. She is president of Johnson Design Group, a design build firm in Kennesaw since 1994. Please visit our Web site at www.johnsondesigngroup.com  or you can reach her at: ann@johnsondesigngroup.com  or  770 426 7007.











2 Responses

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