Grow­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES -

How about in­dulging in some cross-bor­der gar­den­ing this spring? On April 11, the Grand Forks Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety, in part­ner­ship with North Dakota State Univer­sity Ex­ten­sion Ser­vice, will host P. Allen Smith, one of Amer­ica’s most rec­og­nized and in­flu­en­tial plants­man at their an­nual spring show, known also as Gar­den­ing Satur­day. A mas­ter of his craft, Smith is a best-sell­ing au­thor and host of two weekly PBS tele­vi­sion pro­grams as well as a syn­di­cated weekly TV se­ries. A fre­quent guest con­trib­u­tor on NBC’s the To­day Show and ac­tive through so­cial net­works, he reaches mil­lions of gar­den­ers each week. Smith is a pro­fes­sional gar­den de­signer, who also owns and op­er­ates a gar­den cen­tre. Ear­lier this month, I talked with Smith. His en­thu­si­asm and de­light in all things home and gar­den are se­ri­ously se­duc­tive. Ed­u­cated in Eng­land where he stud­ied gar­den de­sign and his­tory at the Univer­sity of Manch­ester in Eng­land (he is a cer­ti­fied fel­low of the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety), Smith is a mem­ber of the hor­ti­cul­tural elite with­out be­ing an elit­ist in any sense of the word. In fact, Smith could be your neigh­bour over the back­yard fence, as in­ter­ested in your gar­den as you would be in his. “My great grand­fa­ther used to say that what mat­tered was to ad­min­is­ter to peo­ples’ un­der­stand­ing so that al­ways res­onated with me,” says Smith, whose fam­ily came to Amer­ica in the 1690s, set­tling first in Charleston then mov­ing west­ward to Ten­nessee. With a back­ground steeped in farm­ing and the nurs­ery in­dus­try, Smith, a life­style ex­pert, is about more than car­ry­ing on a fam­ily tra­di­tion. In­spired by his sur­round­ings and fam­ily teach­ings, he has built a solid rep­u­ta­tion on not only his in­nate cre­ativ­ity but also his pas­sion for sus­tain­abil­ity, con­ser­va­tion and preser­va­tion that is the un­der­pin­ning of his work. This ex­tends to her­itage plants such as his col­lec­tion of Noisette roses, the first class of Amer­i­can rose de­vel­oped in Charleston in the early 19th cen­tury. Poul­try fig­ures large in Smith’s life, as well. Founder of the Her­itage Poul­try Con­ser­vancy, Smith raises seven breeds of chick­ens with the goal of pre­serv­ing ge­netic di­ver­sity. “This in­ter­est in her­itage, preser­va­tion and con­ser­va­tion is a theme that has run through my en­tire ca­reer, if not life,” says Smith. “I think that it started with my recog­ni­tion of the need to con­serve re­sources and a nat­u­ral love of beauty.” Smith’s home is a labour of love, a replica of an 1840s Greek Re­vival farm­house called Moss Moun­tain, which is sit­u­ated on more than 500 acres over­look­ing the Arkansas River Val­ley just out­side of Lit­tle Rock. When he stud­ied in Eng­land he had the good for­tune to see some of the finest land­scapes ever cre­ated and to learn about the un­der­ly­ing phi­los­o­phy and pur­pose of their de­sign. Smith was in­tro­duced to the idea of cre­at­ing gar­den rooms and in­ti­mate spa­ces, each with a dif­fer­ent pur­pose. Ele­ments of light­hearted fancy or whimsy as well as a hint of mys­tery piques the

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