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Visit to P. Allen Smith Garden Home Retreat

Little Rock, Arkansas. The last time I was there was in the 70s on a road trip to the Northeast. A few months ago, I was invited to attend a 2-day garden blogger’s event hosted by P. Allen Smith and his sponsors in Little Rock. About 24 prominent garden bloggers from around the country were invited to attend this exclusive event this past week. A skeptic at heart, I must admit I initially thought there would be a catch to this expense-paid trip. There wasn’t. No expectations or restrictions were placed on us about our coverage of the event. We were treated to deluxe hotel accommodations at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock and gourmet meals prepared by Chef Brian Kelley at the farm.

A yellow house with a large tree in front of it.
Moss Mountain Garden Retreat

What I Didn’t Know…

All I had seen of P. Allen Smith (everyone fondly calls him Allen) was through his television shows and books. I had no idea that his design company (P. Allen Smith & Associates) had created some of the most beautiful gardens in Little Rock for some very prominent people including the Governor’s mansion. I also didn’t know how much interest he had in caring for the environment and living sustainably. His farm is environmentally responsible and organic. Allen is a true Southern gentleman and he and his staff were gracious and delightful to be around. Charming with a witty sense of humor, he was the perfect host. Our entire stay was first class even through a series of challenging weather events.

So what did we do?

On the first day of the event, we toured area gardens designed by Allen and his team. The second day we spent entirely at Allen’s 500+ acres retreat, Moss Mountain Farm. The sponsors Proven Winners, Corona Tools, Stihl, Bonnie Plants, Garden Safe, Easy Gardener, Laguna Ponds, and Berry Nurseries each gave us presentations. I especially liked their focus on sustainability. From powerful, yet cordless chainsaws to biodegradable container pots, we heard what each company was doing to reduce their impact on the environment. We even had a container garden design throw-down sponsored by Proven Winners. It was a great experience getting to know these informative and engaging sponsors.

Inside the Garden Home

The Garden Home is styled after a 19th-century American farmstead and may look old, but it’s not. Allen combined the romance of the period into a modern structure of sustainable design. The home is energy efficient and incorporates such elements as a cistern for water collection, wall insulation made from soy and old blue jeans, and using the sun to preheat water through a network of tubing.

A brown couch in a living room.
Blurring Modern with the Past
A couch in a living room.
Textures and Patterns – Curved Seating

Allen enjoys blurring the lines. The home and the garden connect through a series of outdoor rooms, terraces, and porches, all designed to seamlessly create one magical place.

A living room with wicker furniture and green plants.
Outdoor room overlooking the rear gardens

We asked about the color palette used in the design and Allen said it was created from the colors reflected in the moss and bark of trees.

The Gardens

The farm is over 500 acres, but the gardens around the home were exquisite. Meticulously designed with flowing pathways, raised beds, borders, roses, and just about every kind of flower you can imagine. Cottage elegance is masterfully planned in a utilitarian design. It simply works and produces food, flowers, and comfort.

A white picket gate in front of a house.
Garden rooms behind every gate.
A white house with a red roof.
Outdoor kitchen
A tree in a pot.
Fig tree in terra cotta planter
A garden with a lot of potted plants.
Gardens outside Home
A white house with a red roof.
Studio / Office
A black barn in the middle of a field.
Rolling hills and fields of sheep

Edibles are part of the landscape here in simple raised beds dappled with trellises and arbors.

A wooden fence in a garden.
Edibles are part of the landscape
A garden with a fence and flowers.
Beds of flowers with elaborate structures

Wanna read more about our trip?

Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings was another blogger I met on our trip and she has written a nice post on the visit. You can read it here.

6 thoughts on “Visit to P. Allen Smith Garden Home Retreat”

  1. Dee/reddirtramblings

    Jackie, I think your pictures were better than mine. Thanks so much for the link love. I so enjoyed meeting you, and I hope we’ll make other trips together. How about GWA in August in Indianapolis, or the blogger event in Seattle in July? Whatcha think?~~Dee

    1. Jacqueline D'Elia

      You’re sweet for saying that. The camera does all the work, I just stand there. 🙂 if I can afford to this year I would love another trip. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Wow! Your pictures are stunning.
    His property is so gorgeous that even my little point-and-shoot took surprisingly beautiful pictures. They aren’t this good, but they’re still pretty.

  3. Houston Garden Girl

    What a great trip! The gardens and the house are gorgeous. And yes, I did get the book. I tweeted to you, but you must have missed it. I’ve been waiting for a rainy day so I can read it. I hope I don’t have to wait much longer.

  4. Just saw the fig in a terra cotta pot. Will that work in Houston? I totally love figs. I have two trees that I planted about 4 years ago. They have not done anything. Do not know what I am doing wrong. Would love any insight. Lisa

    1. Jacqueline D'Elia

      I haven’t had much experience with figs, but I know a few gardeners to ask. Do you know the variety you purchased? How big are the trees and what size pot they’re in now? I’ll post info when I find out.

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