My Visit to the World of P. Allen Smith

– Posted in: Events, Vegetables

What’s a cold climate gardener doing in Little Rock, Arkansas? Visiting with P. Allen Smith and a couple dozen garden bloggers, for his fourth annual Garden2Blog event. As usual when I visit a southern U.S. area, I felt like I was in an alien land. Here it was, the third week in May. Back home, the lettuce had been planted, oh, maybe a week or two previously. We did, after all, have a slow start to our spring. On Moss Mountain Farm, Allen’s 600-acre home and botanical laboratory, the lettuce had already bolted.

Lettuce and Swiss chard at the garden of P. Allen Smith

While my lettuce back home was mere seedlings, Allen’s red lettuce had bolted. That Swiss chard looks ready to eat, too.

And did you see those cabbages?

cabbages at the home of P. Allen Smith

Pinch me, I must be dreaming! Cabbages this size in May?

My roses are just now starting to bloom, but the roses there were already going gangbusters. Everyone who didn’t already know the name of this rose wanted to know it:
The Sunny Knock Out® Rose, aka Rosa'Radsunny'

The Sunny Knock Out® Rose, aka Rosa’RADsunny’

As best as I can discover, this rose is only hardy to USDA zone 5, so many of my readers might not be able to grow it. I love the yellow color, so I just might try it, mulching well over the winter.

Here’s something even cold climate gardeners can copy:

Violas in the vegetable garden of P Allen Smith

Violas in the vegetable garden

Violas are edible and can be used to garnish salads and prettify desserts. And in our climate, they often do well all garden season long, whereas they will soon wither in the Arkansas heat and humidity. Score one for us!

And you can grow most–if not all–the herbs in this garden, provided your soil has good drainage:

The herb garden at Moss Mountain Farm.

The herb garden at Moss Mountain Farm.

Starting at the bottom and going back, I see sage, oregano, cilantro/coriander (I think), chives, basil gone to seed (I think), garlic chives (another guess), and lavender. Mediterranean herbs are killed more by the wet soil of mud season than by the cold.

I really liked this garden bench/trellis combo. Can’t you just see a rose climbing up it?

bench with pergola

Can’t you just see this covered with roses?

What a fragrant bower that would be! And I just had to share this quirky multi-bud vase that captured my fancy in the gift shop:
bud vase with wildflowers

This is what was blooming at home when I got back from my southern adventure.

That’s just a taste of my whirlwind two-day tour. I’ll be posting about some of the things I learned in the workshops and tours in the weeks to come.

post oak at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm

This venerable post oak shelters the house and provides a great place to relax.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Donna@Gardens Eye View June 22, 2014, 5:59 pm

What a great pinch me experience….love that funky bud vase!!

Donalyn@TheCreeksideCook June 20, 2014, 1:52 pm

It looks like a fun time, Kathy & I look forward to further news from the trip!

Patsy Bell Hobson June 16, 2014, 2:45 am

Little Rock weather sounds like a normal spring weekend. Glad you had a good time and learned a lot.

Kathy Purdy June 16, 2014, 7:36 am

Well, of course, Patsy, for where you live, it would!

Jenny June 15, 2014, 8:44 am

Oh! What fun. How wonderful to visit that garden. Does the gift shop mean that anyone can visit?

Kathy Purdy June 15, 2014, 4:47 pm

I think they give tours on Thursdays and Fridays. People on the tours can visit the gift shop. But I don’t know if anyone can go on the tours, or if you have to be part of a group.

VW June 14, 2014, 11:21 am

Sounds like a great adventure! Nice photos. Those cabbage are pretty amazing – mine are still very tiny.

Patrick June 14, 2014, 9:08 am

Big fan of his show but my local PBS station stopped hosting it two years ago in favor of Garden Smart. Assuming it was a cost cutting decision because I’ve noticed a lot of fundraising during that former time. So sad…but did enjoy your post on this Southern gentleman.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker June 14, 2014, 12:33 am

I love reading your blog and enjoy your posts…keep up the great writing.

Frank June 13, 2014, 9:15 pm

I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of your report, but I can see he seems to garden on different scale than the rest of us.
Good for him!

Kathy Purdy June 13, 2014, 10:08 pm

His first residence (“The Garden Home”) is in Little Rock proper and is on a much more intimate scale.