Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden Tours - P. Allen Smith

One of the best ways to get ideas for your own garden is to visit others.  Especially if you visit gardens in your own zone, you can get a good idea of what works and how it actually looks.  That's why we at Memphis Area Master Gardeners host an annual tour of MAMG gardens called "Through Our Garden Gates."  That's why we have a monthly mini-tour for MAMG members (one of the many perks of membership!) of various member gardens that we call "Gardens in Progress."  Nothing stays the same from year to year in the garden, right?  A plant can be perfectly happy for years, then bang - it's gone.  New plants come along all the time that we absolutely must have.  That's why we love gardening so much - there's always something going on!

Even famous garden personalities are not immune to this constant experimentation.  Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Moss Mountain Farm, the home of P. Allen Smith, near Little Rock, AR.

View from the visitor parking area

It was a perfectly beautiful day.  We arrived around 10:00 and had an hour to wander around on our own before the tour started at 11:00.  I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Entrance to the vegetable garden

One of the herb beds

Notice all the raised beds?

Vegetables, fruits, berries
The walk to the rose garden

Rose garden view

Side view of the house.  The small building is Allen's painting studio.

A view to the Arkansas River.  The apple orchard is by the river and
there is a separate stone fruit orchard.

Espaliered pears!  There's lots of espalier here - a big space saver.

A pretty color combination in the "brights" border

The "brights" border - reds, yellows, oranges.  On the other
side of that far gate is the "pastel" border - blues, whites, pinks.
In progress:  this arbor was first planted with grapes (too hard to prune)
then with Baseball Bat Gourds (dangerous) and now they're trying
small ornamental gourds.
This fig is over 80 years old and was moved from another location on the
farm.  It's very happy.

This Post Oak is over 350 years old.  It was struck by lightning a couple
of years ago and now has cable throughout for reinforcement
as well as a lightning rod!

We got to tour the house, too.  This is the fab kitchen.
Who wouldn't get a good night's sleep on this screened sleeping porch?
We had a delicious lunch in the barn.
But my favorite part?  Chickens, of course!

Outside the barn door.

All kinds of chickens!

A curious rooster
Toulouse Ducks

There are turkeys, too!  In fact, Allen is building a new barn called Poultryville to house all of the different birds.  The barn will open on Saturday, September 21 with an all-day workshop on raising poultry.  Sounds like another road trip!

I picked up some neat items in the giftshop, including Allen's new cookbook (which he autographed!), a great birdhouse, strawberry jelly (really jam), and a dozen fresh eggs.

Sunday morning breakfast!
What did I learn?  I loved the symmetry of the basic garden structure, within which the plants themselves provided a sense of the utter joy of being a plant.  They held back nothing, they were fully and completely what they were born to be.  Just give them a good place and they'll do the rest.

I'd love to go back in the spring - maybe we can get a group together then?

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