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Joan Gibbs, Founder of Gibbs Perennial Gardens, died recently. The following was written by her. The business has been sold and is still in operation.
Joyce's Search Tip - January 2008
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About Us
Gibbs Perennial Gardens, owned and operated by Joan and John Gibbs, is situated on approximately 6 acres in the beautiful Endless Mountains.
My husband John and I purchased this property in 1968. At that time it was a commercial apple orchard. As John planted trees, I planted perennials. With the help of my two sons, Kevin and Kenny, and my husband, we cleared fields, cut brush, plowed, picked rocks, and got rid of the clay. A vegetable garden was planted interspersed with perennials. Before long it was all perennials and the boundaries of the garden kept expanding. A hobby was getting out of hand.
The gardens drew a lot of attention from the apple customers and also from the general public. When I got home from work there would be cars sitting in the driveway waiting for me. For 15 years I gave away bushels of plants each week. They were free for the taking. A few of the memorable comments from the visitors were "Could I buy a seed?", "Will this grow if I put it in water?", "Are you REALLY throwing that away?"
Juggling a full-time job, the gardens, the visitors, and everything else a mom and wife does left little time for the garden. I weeded by moonlight and spotlight. I planted in the rain and I dug in the heat.
Finally my husband suggested potting up a few plants and selling them with the apples to bring in extra money to hire garden help. I never intended to sell plants but the rest is history — I left my job and Gibbs Orchards became Gibbs Perennial Gardens.
Each variety of plant has a unique sign — like no other you have ever seen. The signs are composed, typed and edited by me. You can't go wrong if you read the signs.
You will thoroughly enjoy the amazing plants, many new to the trade, many old-fashioned varieties. You will not be disappointed. The plants have made their homes in most of the states and beyond. The plants are grown on site in the cold Northeast and will thrive in your gardens.
Sales Area
? Over 700 varieties - thousands of containers to select from
? Signage
? Separate sections for shade plants, sun plants, water plants, alpines, and sempervivum
? Entire area covered with a special fabric to keep you comfortable on those hot days
? Umbrellas supplied for those rainy days
? Rest areas
? Main garden easily accessible with stone walks and paths 150' x 200'
? Other planted areas include bank plantings, stone gardens, propagating beds for sun and a special shade garden section
Water Gardens
? Waterlilies and fish
Information Center
? Please register
? Self-Tour map of the grounds
? Brochures of local businesses
? Handouts
o Humming Birds
o Butterfly
o Deer
Antique and Gift Shop
? A spacious, renovated old-time barn loaded with the unusual
? Gift Certificates
Items of Interest
? Alpine Line
o Delightful miniatures well suited for troughs, screes, lava (feather rock), wicker baskets. rockgardens and roof gardens
? Ferns
o Extensive collection - dwarfs to giants - great texture and hues
? Hosta
o Over 130 varieties and still counting
? Sedums
o Many new irresistible varieties
? Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks)
o Collected from mountain ranges world-wide
? Waterlilies
o All colors plus other water and bog plants

The following is being rewritten word for word in memory of my beloved mother,
Joan M. Gibbs, who went to be with our Lord on January 10th, 2007. These
 are words she wrote and spoke to various Garden Clubs who came over the
 years to visit her home and business, Gibbs Perennial Gardens in LeRaysville,
                                                                                          With a son’s love forever,
                                                                                          Kevin D. Gibbs
Presentation to Garden Club:

Good morning ladies. Many people ask me how I got into my hobby of perennials. So today I’m going to take you to where that love began. I’m going to take you to the first perennial gardens as I saw them. They were God’s garden. Some of you will be able to relate. For those of you who never experienced the sights we’re going to see, I want you to join me as a child and we’ll begin.

It’s spring – a day full of sun, white cottony clouds and blue-blue sky. I want you to visualize a beautiful meadow. It’s filled with flowers. You can see the yellow buttercups and you pick one and hold it under your chin and your chin turns yellow. You put it under your nose, take a sniff and the tip of your nose is covered with yellow pollen. As you walk, skip, or jump, you land in a patch of white daisies. You pick one and pull out a petal at a time saying “he loves me”, “he loves me not” until nothing is left but the yellow center. You pinch the center until all of the seedlings fall into your hand. Throw them up in the air, flip your hand over and count how many you caught. This is how many children you’ll have. Growing with the daisies are some brilliant red Indian paint brushes and black-eyed susans. They’re covered with butterflies. Push the weeds aside and you’ll see strawberry blossoms. In a few days you’ll be back with your berry pail.

As you pass through the meadow you approach a patch of woods. The temperature changes – it’s a little cooler and everything looks lush. The ferns are airy and a beautiful green, a natural foil for the red and white trilliums. And that strange looking thing with no flower at all is a jack-in the pulpit. A solitary pink lady’s slipper nods hello. The mayapples look like a perfect umbrella and you pick one and hold it over your head. Purple violets are growing near a decaying tree stump and you start a bouquet. You notice toadstools and the Indian puff ball. You jump on the puff ball and it releases its “smoke”.

You see some big rocks and as you sit next to them you notice they too are covered with growth. It’s green moss…. and you run your hand over the tickley moss hardly believing that it really and truly is growing out of a rock. The birds are singing and you hear the magical sound of….. a bubbling creek. The music draws you like a magnet and you’re off. The bank is covered with blue forget-me-nots. You step to the creek’s edge and look at the posies you’ve gathered. Some of the little heads are droopy and wilted so you very carefully lay them down in the creek to get a drink. You plunge your little hands in the creek and pull out…..some….beautiful stones. One is gray and very flat and as you inspect it you can see the shape of a leave and the shape of a fern imbedded into it. Some stones are small and pearly white and some have a green, slimy coating called algae, a form of aquatic plant life. You fill your pockets with stones and gather up your bouquet. You’ve got to get across the creek and you see a perfect bridge of rock. Oh so cautiously you go step by step to the other side to pick the gorgeous blue and pink Virginia Bluebells. Suddenly you smell spearmint candy and as you investigate you see spearmint leaves hugging the ground. You walk on them and the fragrance clings to your heels.

There’s a fence ahead and you know what’s on the other side – the most deliciously smelling flower of all – the pink trailing arbutus. Can’t pick them – just smell. Well maybe you can pick just one but be very careful not to disturb the roots because it is an endangered species.

You’re home now and as you run through the yard you see the huge lilac bush, the iris and the peonies. Something has happened to the lawn – it’s full of golden flowers – they’re everywhere you look. Dandelions! You don’t want them for your bouquet. Tomorrow you’ll pick some, and snap their heads off. You’ll slip your tongue down the hollow stems and they’ll split and make perfect curls that you’ll pin in your hair. The stems will also make wonderful chains that transform into necklaces, bracelets and even belts. You’ll pick the dandelion that’s gone to seed --- blow it and millions of seedlings will float through the air and you’ll make a million wishes and they’ll all come true.

I hope you saw Mother Nature’s garden – it’s perennial and it’s there every year.

We’ll put the lights back on.

My mother told me that when she was little my grandmother took her to the creek on Good Friday to wash because the water was holy. At that time of year the meadow we visited earlier was filled with blue and white hepaticas and the pussy willows were blooming in the hedgerow. Late spring would bring the strawberries, then blackberries and blueberries, golden rod, and asters ---- and even a little later elderberry, milkweed pods, acorns, brightly colored leaves, apples, chestnuts and beechnuts. And still later we would gather up the creeping pine and finally thee Christmas tree.

Perhaps I’ve gotten some of this vegetation

I wanted to surround myself with that kind of permanent beauty the rest of my life. Little by little it came together. By 1975 my garden was attracting many visitors. In 1981 Gibbs Orchard became Gibbs Orchard and Perennial Gardens – I got bottom billing.

My garden blooms from spring to fall. It comes up every year with bigger plants and more plants than the year before.

In the picture is my mom, my dad John, and their great-granddaughters, Diamond Pelton (on my mom's right), Mystic Pelton, under my dad's left arm, and Stevie Rae Pelton to my mom's left.
Joan M. KRISTOFF Gibbs
of LeRaysville, Pa.
Joan M. Gibbs, 69, of LeRaysville, Pa., passed away Wednesday, January 10, 2007, at Wilson Memorial Hospital, Johnson City. She is predeceased by her father, Peter Kristoff. She is survived by her husband, John D. Gibbs, LeRaysville; two sons and a daughter-in-law, Kevin D. and Lisa Gibbs, Wysox, Pa., Kenneth J. Gibbs, Fenton, Mich.; her mother, Mrs. Wilma Ferencik, Vestal Center; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Jane and Vincent Brach, Tyler, Tex., Carol and David Ludington, Little Meadows, Pa.; six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, also many nieces and nephews. Joan was the owner of Gibbs Perennial Gardens of LeRaysville and a member of the Perennial Plant Association. She was a retired employee of IBM Owego and a member of the IBM Quarter Century Club. Joan's love of flowers, perennials in particular, brought her great joy through her life. Now, she is a gardener in Heaven.
At the family's request, there will be no calling hours. A Funeral Mass will be offered at 2 p.m., Saturday, January 13, 2007, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Little Meadows, Pa. Burial will be at the family's convenience. Those wishing may make contributions in Joan's memory to the H.O.P.S. Ambulance Service, Attn: James Serpher, RR 1 Box 28, Rome, Pa. 18839. Funeral arrangements are by Coleman & Daniels Funeral Home, Inc., Rte. 434, Apalachin, N.Y. 
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