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Back in May, I represented Savvy Gardening at P. Allen Smith’s annual #Garden2Grow2016 Influencer Summit. Not only did I get to hang out with Allen (who I must say is an incredibly charismatic, articulate storyteller), there were also innovative gardening brands present with representatives who led some interesting gardening discussions, as well as the influencers themselves—all incredibly talented, creative media folks with some serious social media clout. Over two thought-provoking days, each workshop took place in various parts of Allen’s Moss Mountain Farm, about a 40-minute drive from Little Rock, Arkansas.
At that point in the season, the tulips and daffodils were still out back home in Southern Ontario, but at Moss Mountain Farm, the gardens were what I’d consider to be resplendent summer gardens—bursting with blooms and produce that I hadn’t even planted yet. Allen’s passion for gardening and sustainable practices is evident throughout the property and in each section, he regaled us with stories about how his ideas were brought to life. At every turn I was making note of little details I could somehow apply back home. Which is what brings me to the photos you are about to see:
10 inspiring garden ideas from P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm
1. An asparagus hedge
The border of the vegetable garden area was a mass of wispy asparagus fronds. I love this idea of using an ornamental edible (in this case, once it’s out of season) to frame a garden.
2. A pyramid-shaped raised bed for strawberries
Ever on the lookout for raised bed ideas (as a result of my recent book Raised Bed Revolution), I fell in love with this simple strawberry bed design. It lifts the plants, so that the runners are free to roam over the sides into the next level.
3. Separate your yard into garden rooms
This design idea is applied throughout Moss Mountain Farm, where living walls, like espaliered trees and boxwood hedges are used to delineate various areas.
The “window” in this garden room provides a colourful view of the property as it slopes down towards the river.
4. Add a sense of whimsy
Well, add whimsy only if it’s part of your personal aesthetic. Allen has an innate ability to blend formal, symmetrical garden style with quirky, but stylish touches. This abandoned shed is the perfect example.
I’ll be on the lookout for garden art until I can find something as interesting as this deer.
5. You can never have too many Edison bulbs
At dusk, the 350-year-old Seven Sisters oak tree that stands in front of the formidable main house was an inviting beacon beckoning guests under its lower branches wrapped in strands of welcoming lights. I immediately bought a box of them when I got home and regret not having more gracing my yard.
6. Create drifts of native grasses
I asked Allen about the swaths of un-mowed grasses around the sister oak and he explained that they are native varieties that are taking over. I love this concept and feel tempted to try it somehow in my front yard…
7. Plant lots of #GardenBFFs
I was excited to see that Allen features lots of interesting edible and ornamental combinations, which, as we discuss on Savvy Gardening, provides lots of mutual benefits, the main one being attracting pollinators.
8. Espalier goals and what to do with a dead espalier
I’d love to have fruit trees on my property, but I don’t want the shade they’d introduce (I have enough of that from living on a ravine). So, one of my goals is to learn about espalier techniques and find me some trees. On the flip side, Allen entertained us at lunch one day with the story behind the dead espaliered trees that were in the one dining room. He referred to them as “pear corpses” that he couldn’t bear to throw away after training them for four to five years. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the decorative dead espalier.
9. A brilliant way to arrange tulips
“Tulips on the bulb” were how Allen described the centerpieces at lunch one day. I love this natural look and technically, if you decide to sacrifice some tulips for such an arrangement, you could keep those bulbs and plant them again in the fall (though they may not bloom that first year after replanting).
10. Must find more trellises
Or build them… When placed well, trellises can add such depth and beauty to a garden. I love the placement of this trio. And the haphazard alliums with their delightful pops of colour are also on my list.