Founder’s Garden

This is where it all started back in 1986 when Tony and Michelle Avent purchased the 2.2 acre property that is today the Founder’s Garden. There are currently 8,600 active plant records for this section of garden. 

When you enter the JLBG property today, you’ll drive through the north end of the Founder’s Garden. Upon walking around, you’ll find this garden section a woodland paradise. The overstory surrounding what is now the Administration/Customer Service/Shipping Headquarters is the result of 37 years of tree and shrub planting and care.

Here, you’ll find our original grotto garden, a small rock garden filled with tiny treasures, a bog garden, and a plethora of amazing plants, tucked into every nook and cranny. The maze of paths weave through the garden so you can get a closeup view of all the treasure planted within. You’ll find you need to traverse the same path in both directions not to miss any of the plant treasures. 

Gazeebo stream photo

A woodland paradise

The overhead canopy consists of specimens including Celtis sinensis (Chinese hackberry), Lagerstroemia faurei (Faure’s Crape Myrtle), Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood), and a nearly 40 year old Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’, showing what’s possible with great age. This is one of 36 different maples in this garden.

A native grove of Juglans nigra (black walnut) was preserved, now underplanted with the little-known Acer carpinifolia. One of the most stunning trees is our huge specimen of Zelkova serrata ‘Goshiki’ with it stunning variegated foliage and smooth silvery bark. The beautiful Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’ is so large, it’s regularly mistaken for a giant cherry tree until it burst forth in spring with its fragrant flowers.

Woodland stream plantings photo
Three decades worth of growth

Many of the shrubs have grown quite massive, also now provide shade underneath. These include giant Sciadopitys verticillata, some enormous Juniperus chinensis ‘Kazuki’, a stunning Taxus mairei, and over 125 different conifers, including our amazing specimen of Abies concolor.

A deliciously fragrant Cleyera japonica ‘Fortunei’ highlights the late spring garden, while 29 camellia cultivars add color from fall through spring. The large specimens of Illicium lanceolatum, henryi, and jiadifengpi, all are fascinating evergreens that thrive in the shade. Even the native Osmanthus americanus could now be easily mistaken for a full-size tree.

A unique collection of shade perennials

You’ll find an incredible array of over 500 different ferns here, including 28 different maidenhair fern collections. If you visit during the warmer months, see how many of the 100+ amorphophallus selections you can spot. Once you find those, then you can start to look for the 200+ cultivars of arisaemas that also reside in the same area. Tucked beneath them are 250+ cultivars of Asarum (wild gingers).

In late winter, you walk past an incredible collection of over 800 different trillium accessions, planted in and amongst the 250 different hellebore selections. In late summer, you’ll catch a glimpse of over 100 different lycoris that inhabit this garden section. In other words, don’t be in a hurry, and be sure to return in each season, as a garden with this much diversity changes daily.

Next up – Michelle’s Garden

A beautiful combination of lush shade gardens featuring hardy tropical plants, sun drenched alpine berms, large waterfall and a unique rain garden.

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