Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ferme Orne'e ~ Creating living spaces to inspire beauty.

After taking in charming Franklin, TN the time was approaching to make a decision.  We discussed our options and chose to rent a vehicle and proceed on with our original travel plan.  By afternoon we were on the road and heading toward Little Rock, AR.  It was another easy road to travel but stopping points were further apart with vast areas of flat land, nature preserves and forests.  Lenora made good time getting us close to a resting stop for the evening.  It wasn't possible to arrive at the Ward Mansion B&B in Conway, AR as we were hoping for but a nice Hampton Inn hotel in Forrest City soothed our senses to speedy slumber and by 7:15 a.m. we had breakfast and were on the last leg to our final destination.  By 9:15 we arrived to an area of small town rural life and had time for coffee before 10:00 when the gates opened to the public.
Matching lime washed guard houses mark the entrance to Moss Mountain Farm.

This is the place I have long awaited to visit.  The home and farm of P. Allen Smith television personality and a best selling author as well as one of America's best known garden designers and lifestyle contributors.  He  is the host of a weekly public television show, P. Allen Smith Garden Home, a syndicated program, P. Allen Smith Gardens, a gardening report on The Weather Channel and regular appearances on The Today Show.  He most recently launched  a new public television series, P. Allen Smith's Garden to Table.
His mission statement is "to help people create beautiful living spaces that blur the lines between indoors and outdoors".
For beautiful photos of the Garden Home Retreat please visit this article by Kim Severson and Robert Rausch for The New York Times
  " The Martha Stewart of the South".
Moss Mountain Farm - Slide Show -
Also his 10th Anniversary short video on you tube can be viewed to get a true sense of his relaxed approachable nature and filled with the grandeur of the area. P. Allen Smith's Garden Home

After passing through the gates, one travels through a lightly wooded area to arrive to a vastly spacious clearing of green pastures framed with dark wooden fence surround for grazing what could be white Dorper sheep and their lambs.

"I think sometimes the best perspective is from the periphery", a quote by Allen probably describing the look of a particular garden room or area but I'm realizing how fitting it is here at the beginning.  Farm life is becoming more diminished and Moss Mountain Farm acts as a school of knowledge to help people to become inspired and reconnected to a time of self sustainance.
After Allen's Dad's passing, Allen became interested in raising poultry and vegetable gardening to help his Mother.  He found that it nurtured his soul to be involved with the thing that sustained his family for generations and when the time came to get serious about a school of study, he realized his bent was toward horticulture instead of becoming a doctor.
In 2009, Allen founded the Heritage Poultry Conservancy.
The home built some 5 years ago by Ward Lile, Architect, is a three story Greek Revival style home reminiscent of an 1840's farm house overlooking the Arkansas River.  Upon purchasing the land a dairy barn and some foundations of the time remained and Allen wanted to use that as part of his restorative philosophy.
Mr. Smith believes the house is an archtype for the soul & should have a balanced living environment with the inner & outer aesthetics connected by a seamless transition.  It is a demonstration site to test and teach and is created in the ferme orne'e or ornamental farm style.

Inside, the home has a Pottery Barn appeal.  Some of Allen's reads are architectural, horticultural and inspirational in nature.  One of his favorites is by Joseph Cambell.  Allen feels guided by something greater than himself.  It must be embedded in his nature and heritage so deeply that it overflows throughout the whole property for all and anyone who wants to visit.  That's what you truly feel when you are there.  A sense of welcome, beauty and calm unintimidating serenity. 
You can tell Allen loves having people come with that y'all come attitude for it's filled with
 great bedding accomodations.  The top upstairs is an adorable kids bunk house area that he had installed for his nieces and nephews.
More favorites to this home include screened sleeping porches just like the ones people used long ago.  I bet they render an amazing summer rest!  There is also a copper bath tub which is unique.  Imagine being up on the top story and looking out over the Arkansas River with only the feel of the land as it was long ago.  Industrialization hasn't taken a grasp of this area yet.  It's spectacular!
The main floor has fabriced furnishings and a large picnic type table for dining on the screened porches.  I think some outdoor fabrics are used quite handsomely for they are exposed to humidity and moisture from the elements.
The kitchen is stunning bright white and classic with carrara marble and state of the art commercial grade appliances.
Outdoors a summer kitchen type building houses Allen's art studio.  His favorite subjects are vegetables like the ones he grows.
The other building is a summer kitchen.  He makes use of a building reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in a unique and creative way using the remains of a once thriving tree as an upside down chandelier.  Just as he states his lawn and garden areas are marked by rooms of distinctive organized, spaces.
After half of our 100 person group took in the house and the other half took in the garden, we gathered in a large barn type building with all the equipped comforts technology allows and decorated white tableclothed round tables with floral displays and a beautiful luncheon plate with dessert.  All we had to do was pick up our chosen glass of ice water or tea.
The idea was to eat that from the farm and garden as well as meet Chef who prepared it.    It served to inspire folks to eat more healthily that which is aesthetically beautiful and abundant.
We finished our tour with a visit into the refurbished dairy barn which houses his gift shop.
It was a wonderful and amazing experience to see in life that which is achievable on any level.  It is a perfect place to reconnect to that which is lovely and good and to refill a philosophy for yourself that somehow gets worn down and lost during lifes daily activities for sustainance in today's fast paced, high tech and compromising lifestyles. 
Allen and his staff are most welcoming, warm and interested in making your visit the most rewarding possible.  He truly has an appreciation for the public's interest and carries it in humbleness. 
A most memorable experience.
With this in mind, I think I'll take advantage of the beautiful sunny 70 degree we're going to have today and get outside to work in my lawn and garden spaces to make them better places to be.

Take it from Angel, Allen's free roaming farm hand mouser dog;
Have a great weekend, be safe and create!
Just when I thought I was nearing the end of a jam packed road trip, my next post will include a fabulous day spent back in Nashville, TN on the way home.   Cheekwood Garden and Museum of Art the home of Maxwell House coffee fortune.  A beautiful day just before Easter with the vision of children and their happy hearts on an egg hunt and a style that is expressive of the 1930's era.

My credits include: "The Martha Stewart of the South"  by Kim Severson of The New York Times and
credit to: Robert Rausch home back view.
Garden2Blog post by Jacqueline D'Elia on Facebook

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A touch of romanticsm and classic style creates a garden in which to linger a while...

No, you're not immagining things thinking this home was seen while on my recent road trip.  It was seen a few years back while on a New England venture with my fellow leaf peeping sister-in-laws.  Since it included the home of a past President, I thought I would include it in this segment of my second day road trip to the southern states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.
A few years ago and more recently, I've had the opportunity to visit a couple of President's homes.   In the above photo we were passing by the home of President and Mrs. George H. W.  Bush of Kinnebunkport, ME while traveling to reach our lodging motel for the night.  It was close enough to the road open and unobstructed to get a feel of it's classic gray weathered wood style.  I recognized an extended protruding room from the house with windows that allowed for amazing ocean views as well as the grassy knoll where the President stood just a week or so before while being interviewed by the Early Show on CBS.  It was enriching to see their home in such an open setting visible to the public.

Another pleasant country drive on another occasion revealed another such pleasure.

Campaign banner.

President Hayes was of the first to use the Presidential seal.
Notice his reveals the eagle's head facing the arrows exhibiting that America was at war.

The front door of the President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes

Not far from my daughter and son-in-law's home is the spacious home and museum of President Rutherford B. Hayes in Freemont, OH.  A drive heading north in the country and after a time,  a sprawling grassy and treed setting with stacked stone half walls, tall, black, impressive iron gates structured of the time bearing the familiar eagle with 13 arrows in one tine and an olive branch in the and shield of the American flag stand open to welcome visitors.  The grounds contain walking trails for those who seek exercise, solitude and quiet contemplation.

A view of the home while strolling the walking trails on the property.
President Hayes was known to walk every day for excercise and fresh air.

Frontal view of the home.

Front portico.

A brooch made as a gift for President, Hayes by his wife with four diamonds.

Can you imagine walking in his shoes?  A lot of weight of the world is on their shoulders.

President and Mrs. Hayes crystal.

A gown worn by Mrs. Hayes.

And another.  Exquisite detailed work and fine fabric.

Mrs. Hayes and children standing in the conservatory.

President and Mrs. Hayes are burried on site.

My recent southern route lent this rewarding experience. 
An idylic lifestyle.

Monument in bronze of young Abe with his parents and sister.

Inspiring words.  This reads:
"I happen, temporarily, to occupy the White House.  I am a living witness
that any of your children may come here as my father's child has.

A monument to honor President, Abraham Lincoln

Our American flag.

Graced with peace.

Recently, on this last road trip I was enlightened with the simple boyhood home of President, Abraham Lincoln and the humble lifestyle in which he was raised and prepared for his future service to his fellow countrymen.  A spacious green back wooded area with a sunken spring, and only that which fills basic need.  A monument to honor him by those and their descendents who were blessed by his God fearing attributes and accomplishments.

On display at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Museum.

We also enjoyed this experience of a different nature.
Front view of the Hermitage.
I don't know why the ladder is there.
Guides were dressed in costume of the time.
Notice the front of the home is white.

Back view of the home.
The third day of our road trip carried us to a time and genre when we could get a glimpse of the life and style of a working plantation for which slavery was a given, wealth and the chosen romantic ways of the heart were the desired subjects and needs were met with abundant generosity. The home of  President, Andrew and Rachel  Jackson and lovingly called the Hermitage.  The home is in the National Register of Historic Places #66000722 and a National Historic Landmark.
A postcard of the entry hall at the Hermitage.  The mural was painted in France and depicts one of Mrs. Jackson's favorite mythologies in literature.
It's impressionistic to be here and get a sense of the time.  I, realize my own lean toward romanticsm. 
I choose the beauty of nature and desire to think upon things that are good and lovely instead of lifes daily woes.
The art works for instance, are amongst my favorites as well.

Asher Durand - Adirondack Mountains, NY oil on canvas.

I love the Hudson River Valley's school in technique.  It's known for "majestic vistas with glorious light and detail of nature's spiritually nurturing forces".
Lying on the bedside table of Mrs. Jackson is a book of poetry by Robert Burns 1759-1796 Ayrshire/Scotland that President gave to her in loving fondness of her.
He commissioned William Frost in 1819 to design and create an English garden for her to enjoy on a daily basis.  It's filled abundantly with many old fragrant varieties that you would recognize in your garden nursery today. 

Join us on a stroll through Rachel Donelson Jackson's lovely garden.



All border bricks were burned in a kiln at the Hermitage.  They are beveled at the top and are longer and thicker than regurlar bricks which could be the reason I have to redo mine every year.

A very old tree.
There were crepe mertles (seen in the background), lilac, magnolia, old rose, hickory, peony, iris, columbine, fragrant herbs etc. planted in abundance around the perimeter of the garden.

  Beyond the fense in the pasture cows were grazing.  These were black on both ends and white in the middle and their breed is known as Belted Galloway.
My photos are poor but they serve to journal my travel.   More amazing photos can be viewed on Flickr. of folks who have traveled the same site and posted their own experience.  I love those of rbglasson and lauren252.  Some day I hope to upgrade my camera and better my photo eye.
While here you can breathe in a breath and just imagine the aromas in the air at that time.  This was a working plantation farm.  Animals were housed close by, the smoke house slowly curred ham and other meats & wafed hypnotically smoke from it's chimney, the smells of bread baked in the summer kitchen and signaling an approaching meal,  fragrance from  the undeniably heavenly spring florals in bloom and the herbs that emmitted their own scents when brushed against with the hem of a dress and a not so distant singing of the slaves lement as they worked the field for their master.  President Jackson was a knowledgably wealthy man with investments and land.  Some 1700 acres are here. He created a successful plantation of abundant growth.
He also was the only President to pay off the national debt.
Approaching the Jackson family plot.

Upon the death of Mrs. Jackson, the President requested she be burried in her most loved garden  and  had a gazebo type monument made and placed above her grave as a marker.

President Jackson is burried beside her.

One slave willingly remained with President Jackson for the duration of his life.  His final request was to be burried close to the President and was.  He also took on the name of Jackson.

As the fresh new shoots sprout toward the sky and sun, may you look at them with appreciation for their beauty and as a source for good health and well being.
We then headed on to our resting stop for the night.  The Magnolia House B & B in Franklin, TN.
It's owned and run by a kind and lovely lady named Robbie. 
It's a quaint craftsman type bungalow with reminiscent touches of Victoriana in decor.
Accommodations were clean, comfortable and so very willing to please our need.
No vacation goes perfectly every minute of the time spent while on it.  We encountered a transmission situation with the car grabbing at the tire.  Early that morning I and Janice who went with me for moral support traveled about 1 1/2 miles to Moody's tire and service center to have it checked out.  It was a little more than they could handle and they suggested a transmission service shop.
After an hour and a half, Janice and I returned to a delicious and beautifully prepared and presented breakfast of eggs benedict on delicate floral china, fresh fruit cup in crystal, a very tasty butter brickle bread, juice and coffee.  A very nice retired couple across from us at the table requested tea as their morning beverage and it was sweetly served from a ceramic tea pot enclosed in an adorable tea cozy.  The couple engaged us in polite conversation.  Being a little pre-occupied with our car situation Robbie sensed our concern and offered her church as a potential parking spot.  The gentleman of the couple was listening and offered a little information.  He suggested to not take the car to a transmission service shop which could be costly, but to go directly to a dealership instead.  We deciced to give it a try.  Walker Chevrelet was located a couple of miles away.  They saw that we girls were from out of state and put us on top of the service list.  While inspecting the car the dealership gave us access to their shuttle and kindly took us into Franklin for our wait.
Beautiful churches.
Preserved and well cared for, Franklin is a charming town unique with cute shops and beautiful homes  of many styles.
Greek Revival
Federal in nature.  I loved the natural gas light flame burning a flame at the front door.
Lovely in southern charm.
This section reminds me of our own Urbana or possible the prominent old section of Springfield where industrialists and investors once lived.  The area in particular where the Frank Lloyd Wright home known as the Westcott House is located.
Frank Lloyd Wright home - Westcott House
Springfield, OH
1830 Carter House
Center of Civil War Battle of Franklin
This was a wonderful town to visit especially if one had to be stuck somewhere for a time!   With thoughts of the car, we didn't let ourselves explore it with the freedom we might have had otherwise.  We found a great place to savor a taste of the local eateries of choice.  We chose Puckett's Grocery.  A great restaurant that smokes their own meat and serves delicious generous servings of plated food.  It's all in the atmosphere of a small town market with it's stocked shelves as decor and local entertainment.  A great place!

With that in mind, it's almost time to get ready for a lunch invitation of my own.  Please visit my blog again when a jam packed southern road trip continues  with determination to a town outside of Little Rock, AR, the home of P. Allen Smith known as the Garden Home Retreat overlooking the beautiful Arkansas river.

*On special note, my heart goes out to the folks and families who parrished in the tornado that occurred north of Little Rock yesterday.

The weather is uncertain this time of year.  At the moment the skies are dark and building to a storm and building wind.  Stay alert, be aware and think of your day with safety in mind.

I'm crediting my research to :
Society of the Four Arts
exhibiting Hudson River School paintings
Palm Beach Daily News - The Shiny Sheet, April 27, 2011
Asher Durand
Adirondack Mountains, NY
15 1/4 X 23 3/4 oil on canvas
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