Gerbing Gardens

Description

In 1937 Gustav George Gerbing transformed about seven acres of family property along the Amelia River into a public garden, Gerbing’s Azalea Gardens, with plans for massive plantings of azaleas and camellias for viewing and for sale. The entire fifteen-acre holding became Gerbing Gardens, with groves of native trees including cedars, magnolias, bay, pines, live oaks and water oaks draped with Spanish moss, and wisteria trees. The advertisements for the garden claimed plantings of 100,000 azaleas, an 800-foot long camellia japonica 'Sarah Frost' windbreak, a natural terraced amphitheater of camellias and trees, rose gardens, a four-acre sunken garden planted in roses, azaleas, camellias and bulbs , picnic grounds and children’s playgrounds, all behind a 1,200-foot concrete sea wall. Concrete curbing was used to define garden beds, and chain link fence was covered with Spanish moss and other vines, and broad walkways of sawdust were known as sawdust trails.

The garden remained public for about twenty years and was used for events such as the Festival of Flowers, but was not commercially successful. Gerbing and his business partner Ralph May continued to breed and sell the popular cultivars Azalea indica 'Mrs. G.G. Gerbing' and Camellia sasanqua 'Jean May.'

The current owners removed vines and undergrowth from the original Azalea Gardens, uncovering mature azaleas and camellias. Skeletal traces of concrete curbing, garden beds, parking areas and the extensive irrigation system also have been uncovered. The Gerbing greenhouse was remodeled and is a private building and the sunken garden and rose garden have been developed for home sites.

Photos Show

A colorized photo postcard of the rose garden and covered oyster pier at Gerbing Gardens, circa 1945-1947. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

A colorized photo postcard of the rose garden and covered oyster pier at Gerbing Gardens, circa 1945-1947. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

A colorized photo postcard shows the concrete edging, sawdust walkways and chain link fencing used in the Gerbing garden, circa 1945-1947. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

A colorized photo postcard shows the concrete edging, sawdust walkways and chain link fencing used in the Gerbing garden, circa 1945-1947. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

Colorized photo postcard depicting the sunken pool and fountain, framed in marigolds and azaleas, circa 1945-1947. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

Colorized photo postcard depicting the sunken pool and fountain, framed in marigolds and azaleas, circa 1945-1947. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

The remains of the sunken pool and fountain, with the remodeled greenhouse in background, 2009. Marianne Salas, photographer. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

The remains of the sunken pool and fountain, with the remodeled greenhouse in background, 2009. Marianne Salas, photographer. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection.

Garden Website

gardens.si.edu/collections-research/aag.html

Cite this Page

Smithsonian Gardens, “Gerbing Gardens ,” Community of Gardens, accessed July 24, 2017, http:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​38.​
View a Random Garden