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I mentioned last week that I got a chance to visit the garden home of P. Allen Smith, who is kind of legendary in Arkansas as an expert in all things garden and home. We were visiting to learn more about the 529 plan in Arkansas, but of course part of the fun was also touring the house and grounds.
P. Allen Smith’s house was built in the Greek Revival style to look as if it were built in the 1840s. But it’s also forward looking in that it includes environmentally friendly features like a cistern that collects rainwater off the roof, insulation made with recycled denim and soybean oil, radiant heating and multiple fireplaces.
The home is large but also gracious, comfortable and inviting, with lots of places to sit, tons of books to look at while you’re there, a sleeping porch and a “regular” porch to relax on with sweeping views of part of the garden and the Arkansas River Valley below.
Of course the kitchen is amazing, with a giant island made for eight people to be able to work around. The microwave, a warming drawer, a sink and space for cookbooks are also built into this space, among other storage.
And then there’s the stove top. Six burners, a griddle, a double oven. I would live in this kitchen.
Of course the rest of the house is great, too. He even lets guests into his bedroom, where he sleeps on the bed that once belonged to the last territorial governor of Arkansas before it became a state.
His desk in his bedroom is pretty awesome, too.
And then there’s the kids’ room, a loft with three beds for his nieces and nephews. I’d be happy to live there, too.
The property is about 600 acres with 1 mile of riverfront, but the gardens are only a small portion of that. Smith uses a mix of annuals, perennials and bulbs, including some 300,000 daffodils.
The home is anchored by the big sister, a 300-year-old post oak, and there are five other post oaks on the farm.
In addition there is a 100-year-old fig tree, and the rose garden is working to preserve the Noisette family of roses, which were popular in the 19th century particularly in and around Charleston (the 2-acre garden is also inspired by the architecture of Charleston).
Unfortunately the rain cut short our stroll through the rose and vegetable gardens, but it was still amazing.
The P. Allen Smith Garden Home is a treasure for the state of Arkansas that seeks to inspire and educate while keeping an eye on conservation. If you ever get a chance to visit, you should!
They are open for tours, which include lunch, on Thursdays and Fridays through the end of June and again in the fall.
Have you ever been? I’d love to hear what you thought!