North America, Reviews, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

Discovering Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Georgia

May 16, 2011 • By

This is the first in a series of infrequent articles that will spotlight Hidden Treasures within a city that are usually overlooked by the locals. We will be searching for some of the best little known secrets from every city imaginable. Lean closer and tell me what’s special about yours…….

Life is always full of surprises. Sometimes we can’t see the trees for the forest because we’re so invested in the big picture instead of looking a little closer at what’s in front of us. I’d been making big plans to visit a renowned local botanical garden, Callaway Gardens, which was located roughly 120 miles away. Being a total garden nut, nothing would please me more than to visit a botanical garden that’s a little closer to home for once.  Just by happenstance, I discovered the existence of one that was located a mere 15 miles away in Kennesaw, Georgia. Smith-Gilbert Gardens sits on 16 lush acres of fertile southern soil. Founded in 1970 by Richard Smith and Robert Gilbert, their initial intention was to purchase the historic Hiram Butler House (circa 1882) to settle in, but decided to develop the expansive property to accommodate their new-found avian friends.

Eventually, it became larger than life and over time more varied plant life was added to the landscape. Today, several thousand plant species surround the house along with 30 sculptures that are carefully positioned throughout.  Dr. Gilbert’s horticultural interests was in trees, shrubs and other woody plants while Mr. Smith enjoyed perennials and rock gardens.  Each part of the garden is segmented by plant type and the plants have signs that lists its botanical name as well as the year it was planted which can give the visitor an idea about growth rates in this region.  From its Cedar field, rose, rock, bonsai, camellia, shade and perennial gardens, Smith Gilbert has something special for everyone and is well worth the visit.  What Hometown treasures have you discovered that took you by surprise?

Still, I am quite surprised that a city whose only true claim to fame was in requiring its residents to own guns , would have something so unexpected within its city limits. Hey! Maybe I should have named this article Garden and Gun….that’s pretty unique….I’m sure no one would have thought….to…….uh….never mind.

Except on holidays, the Gardens are open year round Monday through Saturday 9 AM to 4 PM and Sunday 11 AM to 4 PM. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and active military, $5 for children 6 — 12, children 5 and under are free. Memberships are available.  The Gardens are located at 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw, GA 30152, off of Cobb Parkway.

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