Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Coun­try liv­ing can be ele­gant. P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm is a per­fect example.

Back in May I was sur­prised and pleased to be invited to join a bunch of other blog­gers to visit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, for Garden2Blog13. Even if you don’t rec­og­nize his name, you prob­a­bly rec­og­nize his face. P. Allen Smith is the gently-Southern-accented spokesper­son for Proven Win­ners plants, is a tele­vi­sion gar­den celebrity and has a whole slew of books on food and gardening.

A grand old oak tree dominates the entrance to P Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm home, Little Rock, Arkansas

A grand old oak tree dom­i­nates the entrance to P Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home, Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas.

Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm is about a 45 minute drive from Lit­tle Rock. Although not a pub­lic space—after all, it is his home—even the aver­age Joe can tour the farm with reser­va­tions and a paid ticket. Smith and his highly pro­fes­sional staff do such a vol­ume of tour busi­ness that they have built pub­lic restrooms and opened a gift shop. Still, we were wel­come to wan­der not just the gar­dens, but also his ele­gant home.

Robin Ripley and P. Allen Smith

Robin Rip­ley and P. Allen Smith

The Greek Revival house at Moss Moun­tain Farm looks as if it has been there for decades. In fact, it was built just built less than five years ago but with the ben­e­fit of metic­u­lous research into his­toric houses. Like many older houses, the house looks as if it has been expanded here and there over the years. Even the exte­rior patina of the paint is art­fully aged and chipped to resem­ble a his­toric home. (I’ll share some pho­tos of inside the home in a sep­a­rate post.)

Coral red chairs make an accent statement on the front porch of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm home.

Coral red chairs make an accent state­ment on the front porch of P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home.

Aside from enjoy­ing wan­der­ing through the orna­men­tal and veg­etable gar­dens I par­tic­u­larly appre­ci­ated the intel­li­gent and inter­est­ing pre­sen­ta­tions from Jobe’s Organ­ics fer­til­iz­ers and Star Roses and Plants. There was a cool hands-on demon­stra­tion from Troy-Bilt of their lawn care prod­ucts. (I’m still dis­ap­pointed I didn’t win the big prize of that one). Bon­nie Plants, which I didn’t real­ize I have been buy­ing for years, gave a fun pre­sen­ta­tion. And Laguna Ponds pro­vided a multi-part, step-by-step demon­stra­tion of how to build a pond.

A view from the gardens of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm home

A view from the gar­dens of P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home

I have lots of pho­tos to share of inside his ele­gant home and, of course, the gar­dens. Come back again to see more.

View of the Arkansas River Valley from Moss Mountain Farm

View of the Arkansas River Val­ley from Moss Moun­tain Farm

 

Update: Tour the inte­rior of P. Allen Smith’s home here.

 

Robin

I will admit to my fair share of fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants gar­den design. Just give me a cart at a gar­den cen­ter and I’ll emerge with enough plants to fill an SUV, a happy smile and not the vaguest idea of what I’m going to do with them. But (and here’s an ugly truth) I have also had a fair num­ber of those plants lan­guish in pots while I wan­dered around wring­ing my hands and won­der­ing what should go where.

When I decided to add a new gar­den bed last year, I decided to take a dif­fer­ent approach.

Plan­ning! What a concept!

North side potager bed in July with butterfly bush, Gladiolus callianthus, castor bean

North side potager bed in July with but­ter­fly bush, Glad­i­o­lus cal­lianthus, cas­tor bean

The new bed is 4′ x 40′ and extends along the north side of the potager. Last fall I ordered up a truck­load of leaf mulch that we lay­ered over news­pa­per. Nature did a good bit of work over the win­ter break­ing down the news­pa­per, smoth­er­ing out the grass (and weeds) and improv­ing the hard, clay soil underneath.

In the mean­time, I went shopping—this time by cat­a­log and with graph paper and pen­cil. I selected plants I liked, printed them out on a color printer with their vital stats (height/bloom dates, require­ments) and cre­ated a col­lage on a pin board.

Gladiolus callianthus 'Murielae' and castor bean

Glad­i­o­lus cal­lianthus ‘Murielae’ and cas­tor bean

A but­ter­fly bush anchors one end of the bed. I added a pieris ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ in more-or-less the mid­dle and a fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’ at the other end. Tall plants I started from seed included cas­tor bean (rici­nus com­mu­nis) and Mex­i­can sun­flow­ers (titho­nia rotun­di­flora) pur­chased from Botan­i­cal Inter­ests. I wanted col­ors we could enjoy at night, so I added a gen­er­ous num­ber of white glad­i­o­lus cal­lianthus ‘Murielae’ and white physosegia ‘Miss Man­ners’ pur­chased from Brent and Becky’s.

coreopsis and butterfly weed in July

Core­op­sis and but­ter­fly weed in July

Accent col­ors are reds and yel­lows from Glo­riosa superba ‘Roth­schildiana’, Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, Core­op­sis ‘Moon­beam’, Trades­cantia ‘Blue & Gold’ and assorted but­ter­fly weeds and core­op­sis that I allowed myself to pick up at the gar­den cen­ter on a whim.

Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'

Glo­riosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’

Not every­thing came out accord­ing to plan. For exam­ple, the glad­i­o­lus cal­lianthus ‘Murielae’ were adver­tised as reach­ing 12″ to 24″. They are eas­ily more than 36″ tall and con­tinue to grow and push out more and more white flow­ers on long, sturdy stems, so I’m not com­plain­ing. But they are in front of the ‘Hot Lips’, so place­ment could be bet­ter. And although I like the Mex­i­can sun­flow­ers well enough, they are mostly foliage topped by small orangish flow­ers. Mam­moth sun­flow­ers would have given me more bang for the buck.

But hey, there’s always next year.

And speak­ing of next year, I have a whole new bor­der to plan over the com­ing win­ter. The graph paper and pen­cil approach worked well enough that I’ll do it again. It also gave me a gar­den­ing project for those long, cold win­ter days.

 

Robin

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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