P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 7

21 12 2012

Above the brown and white bedroom is the top floor, which houses the sleeping and lounge areas for P. Allen Smith’s nieces and nephews. A bright pink and white checkered runner welcomes you up to the sitting area (my apologies for that noisy image but it was all I got with my iPhone!). Across from the lounge are four twin beds and a full bath. Two dormer window nooks offer beautiful views of the Arkansas River Valley.

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P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 6

21 12 2012

One of the most inviting spots in P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home was the screened sleeping porch at the back of the house. In his introduction before the tour, he mentioned one of the designers wanted to add a fourth bed to the porch, but he nixed that idea, saying, “We don’t want it to look like a tuberculosis ward!” Below is a shot of the three beds in the sleeping porch, which is the top level of the two-level porch.

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Below: This room also has a gorgeous copper bathtub (not a lot of privacy, obviously!) and Sue just had to try it out (yes, she is tiny and yes, the tub is huge).

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Below: On the same floor in the front of the house was a guest bedroom with two beds with a crisp color palette of brown, beige and white. I think the two paintings of clouds above the beds might have been done by P. Allen Smith.

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Below: Corner desk area

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P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 4

14 12 2012

This is the study/library area outside the master bedroom, sitting area, bedroom, desk/study and master bath. All photos taken with my iPhone.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 2

14 12 2012

These shots were taken on the main floor of the house (middle floor), walking out from the kitchen/dining/sitting area onto the screened porch. The stairs lead down to the walkout basement level with a beautiful family room and another bedroom. Doors lead out to a patio and onto the lawn, flanked on either side by Smith’s detached art studio (one of my favorite highlights!) and an outdoor kitchen/prep building. The garden stretches out below this area, with a stunning view of the river and valley below. I’d love to come back in the spring to see the property when the gardens are in full bloom. All of these shots were done with my iPhone (amazing little thing)!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Smith Screen Porch mid lorez





P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 1

14 12 2012

Last week I flew to Huntsville, AL to visit my friend Sue and her mother, Wanda. On Thursday we hit the road headed to Little Rock, AR to visit Sue’s Aunt Gay, whose late husband was former Arkansas Governor Frank White. The occasion? We were all signed up for the open house tour and luncheon at P. Allen Smith’s Greek-Revival-inspired estate located 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. The home sits on top of a ridge overlooking the Arkansas River Valley and is spectacular.

It was love at first sight for me and I shot hundreds of photos with my Nikon SLR, a Coolpix and my trusty iPhone (believe it or not, all of the images in the collage below were shot with just the iPhone). Because there were 90+ people meandering through the house, it was much easier to shoot with my phone than to use my pro stuff. I did get some shots with the other cameras and will share those in later postings.

The collage below shows the main room in the front of the house, plus the sitting room and dining table next to the gorgeous kitchen. I shot every little vignette I could, not wanting to miss even one tiny detail. Learn more about this beautiful property on P. Allen’s website hereMany more photos to come!

PAS Collage 1 lorez





P. Allen Smith’s Little Rock home and garden

2 05 2009

After the luncheon, we toured P. Allen Smith’s garden, just two blocks from the Governor’s Mansion. It was mid-day sun, so the shots aren’t as great as I would like (overcast would have been heavenly for shooting his garden—the contrast was high in most of the photos, but that can’t be helped when you shoot in light like this!). I did get some really nice portraits of Gay, Sue, and Gay’s friend, Nancy (wearing the whimsical cherry necklace) in front of P. Allen’s shed with that beautiful burnt red door.

I’m not sure how large the property is, but it seems to go on forever with little outdoor “rooms” around every corner. The garden flows completely around the house. I’m rethinking my desire to own five+ acres after seeing how much he has been able to accomplish with a much smaller plot. He also has a beautiful country home about 15 miles from Little Rock—oooooh, what I wouldn’t give to see and photograph that property (and sleep in that screened sleeping porch!).

Don’t forget to check out his website here. I now own three of his books. Sue bought me my first one—P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home. I bought two others, P. Allen Smith’s Container Gardens and P. Allen Smith’s Bringing the Garden Indoors, for him to sign at the luncheon. Hmm…now I need just one more, P. Allen Smith’s Colors for the Garden, to round out my collection. He also mentioned he and his staff are working on a garden-related cookbook that should debut in 2010. Busy fella, that Allen.

Enjoy!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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P. Allen Smith Luncheon at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion

30 04 2009

smithbookOn April 21, Sue, her Aunt Gay and I attended a lecture and luncheon honoring outdoor living expert and gardener P. Allen Smith at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. The event was hosted by The Friends of the Mansion. He was also selling and autographing his newest book, Bringing the Garden Indoors (which, of course, I had to have!). Check out his website here—it’s nicely designed and very informative. Click here to find a plethora of short gardening videos featuring Smith on youtube.com.

Smith’s lecture started at 10:30, followed by an outdoor luncheon and leisurely tour of the gardens, which he designed. He has worked on the gardens for the past 25 years. Allen is a very engaging speaker and quite funny. We really enjoyed the presentation and although we didn’t win any of the “guess the plant and win a plant” prizes, we still had a great time.

SUE’S FERVENT MISSION
Years ago I told Sue that I thought Arkansas was the most dreadful state in the U.S. She has been determined to prove me wrong ever since. My opinion was not unfounded. Almost every time Michael and I made the road trip from here to visit my family in Texas, we took the “shortcut” (as if a 1,600 mile one way trip can even be associated with the word “short”) through the Little Rock area, and we never really had a pleasant experience. All I saw was flat, flat, FLAT earth. Grassy fields. Wire fences with Red-tailed Hawks perched on every other post (yes, I even counted them to pass the painful time away). Red-tailed Hawks swooping in to terrorize tiny field mice. Heat. Lots of it. Sometimes even in November.

One year we decided at the last minute to surprise my parents and drive down for the holidays. We found ourselves with a week off during Christmas and hadn’t planned to do anything. I called my younger sister, who was staying with parents at the time, and told her about our plans. The last thing she said was, “you’re going to hit those ice storms in Arkansas!” I dismissed her warning and we packed up the car and left that same night. Yes, in the night (young and foolish, we were). We were vagabonds. Gypsies. The blue highways were calling. Ice storm, smice storm. The next evening, we were on the outskirts of Little Rock. It was night—very cold and very dark. Michael was asleep; I was on driving duty. It was as if the pavement went from bone dry to black ice with a line you could actually see. I went from 65 mph to barely 3 mph in seconds. There were freight trucks jack-knifed in the ditches on either side of us. I punched Michael awake and hollered, “if we’re going to die in this, you’re going to be awake for it!” Even with my foot off the gas pedal, we were still sliding forward. There was nothing to do but slide toward the nearest exit and find a hotel. What we hadn’t bargained for was that everyone else had the same idea. There was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph. I suggested we pull over and sleep in the car. Michael nixed that idea, stating we would surely die from exposure. (He hails from Ohio; I’m a South Texas native—just imagine who knows more about cold weather).

The last hotel we went to directed us to the temporary Red Cross Shelter at a local Baptist church. After a restless night on a hard church pew, followed by cold grits (with no salt or butter in sight—hello?) and even colder biscuits (yum!), Michael and I looked at each other and silently agreed—we were leaving even if we had to skate to San Antonio. As we headed out the door, we were pummeled with, “you shouldn’t leave….it will be 3-4 days before it’s safe to leave!” Spending three more nights sleeping on a hard church pew was more than we could bear (Yes, we were grateful for the refuge, but driving 17 hours straight had rendered us both a tad grumpy). Michael and I linked arms and elbows and glided (sounds graceful, doesn’t it? Trust me, it wasn’t) our way to our car in the church parking lot. We looked over our shoulders at the group of ice storm refugees just shaking their heads in disbelief. We didn’t care if we had to drive 3 mph the remaining 11 hours to San Antonio. We drove through a residential area, heading on a detour south. Not even one mile from the church, the roads were ice-free. We were jubilant! A few years ago, I started a new Virginia-to-Texas road trip tradition—as soon as we hit the Arkansas border, Michael would have to drive and I would sleep through the entire state until he could declare that we had crossed the Texas state line.

So there you have it. This was the basis for my opinion about Arkansas. I never gave Arkansas a chance. Never ventured off the interstate and into the hills, mountains, valleys and streams. Until this past week, that is. (I felt the same way about New Jersey, when all I ever saw was the Jersey Turnpike, en route to NYC. Then I got a chance to see other parts of the state—changed my opinion completely!)

RUBBING ELBOWS WITH POLITICS AND PLANTSMEN
Sue’s Aunt Gay lives in Little Rock and Sue was determined to show me another side of Arkansas. I told her the only way I would go is if I could meet Mike Huckabee and P. Allen Smith (two of the only celebrities I could think of from the (formerly dreaded) state—and when one has a blog, one is always looking for adventures to write and photograph about!). She pondered this request and said, “Lemme get back to you.” Not long after, she called to say her Aunt Gay had gotten us tickets to this luncheon honoring P. Allen Smith, and although Mike Huckabee wouldn’t be in town, the luncheon would be at the Governor’s Mansion, so technically I would be somewhere he had lived. Was that close enough? I conceded that it was. Little did I know that Huckabee’s wife, Janet (who is a friend of Gay’s), would be a last-minute guest and I would have the opportunity to meet, talk and photograph her. She was kind, gracious, and even co-signed an autographed copy of her husband’s seventh book, Do the Right Thing, for my mother (who is a Huckabee fan). She gave us a mini-tour of the living and dining areas of the mansion before the lecture and even served as an impromptu photographer, too, with my camera. In my searches online, I came across an article by Danielle Burton, compiled the U.S. News & World Report library staff. It’s titled, “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Janet Huckabee.” The first one mentioned she was a star basketball player at Hope High School, a fact that didn’t surprise to me—she’s quite statuesque, as you can see by the photo of her next to shorties Sue and Gay!

Gay is also an Arkansas celebrity—she’s a former First Lady of Arkansas. She was married to former Arkansas Governor Frank Durand White, who was only the second Republican governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction. He was the 41st governor of Arkansas and served a two-year term from 1981 to 1873. He was best recognized as “the little-known Republication candidate who defeated Bill Clinton in 1980 after Clinton had served only term as governor.” Frank passed away in 2003. Click here and here to learn more about Governor White.

After the luncheon, we toured P. Allen Smith’s city home, just two blocks away from the Governor’s Mansion (photos to come). Thank you, Gay and Sue, for arranging this wonderful day as well as the opportunity to meet P. Allen, Janet and Ginger. I have solemnly promised that, after a week of wonderful weather, ample subjects to photographs, visits to gardens (photos to come), a lovely day at Gay’s lake house (photos to come), and shopping in Hot Springs, I would no longer think unfavorably about Arkansas. Gay’s hospitality and Sue’s road trip companionship has made the great ice storm adventure a distant memory. Almost.

SUE’S TRIVIA CORNER:
Did you know that Arkansas grows 85% of the rice consumed in the United States?

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Above: Sue, Gay and Janet Huckabee at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion

Below: Sue with her Aunt Gay in the gardens at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansionsue-gay-gov-mansion-lorez

Below: P. Allen Smith at the podiumdsc_0226-lorez

Below: P. Allen signs his newest book, Bringing the Garden Indoors, with the assistance of Cathy Crass from the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion Association.book-signing-1

Below: Dining alfrescoluncheon-panoramic1

Below: Gay White with the current Arkansas First Lady, Ginger Beebe.gay-ginger

Below: Sue and Carolyn, a master gardener and Arkansas resident. I told Carolyn she reminded me so much of the actress Ellen Burstyn. Do you see the resemblance?sue-carolyn

Below: Sue, Gay and Janet before the P. Allen Smith Lecturesuegayjanet-5x71