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

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