Lessons from Moss Mountain Farm

G A R D E N S, Inspiration, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elements of Moss Mountain farm you can use in your own garden - thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

Back in May, I was fortunate to be invited back to P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm for the seventh Garden2Grow, my second. The event features two days of brands and passionate social gurus across home, food and gardening categories touring an amazing garden, discussing and learning from folks openly sharing their knowledge. After I left Arkansas, I came back re-energized with expanded knowledge and network of colleagues.


Elements of Moss Mountain farm you can use in your own garden - thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

Allen designed Moss Mountain as a ferme ornée, a French phrase translated into ornamental farm. This was the same concept Thomas Jefferson applied in the grounds around Monticello, making the utility of farming beautiful and enjoyable to view. Ferme ornée can be applied to any home by incorporating utility plantings and elements into your ornamental garden beds with your neighbors being none the wiser. In the spirit of transforming your home into a ferme ornée, here are some elements from Moss Mountain you can apply in any home garden.



Ornamental Mow Paths

In the Midwest we have the luxury of space many do not have, but often open space around homes is surrounded by expansive field of grass. Moss Mountain features areas of native grasses and that are left to grow and only designed paths meandering paths mowed through.

Use designed mow paths to great interest in large open areas instead of large areas of formal lawn. Moss Mountain Farm - More details at thinkoutsidetheboxwood.com

Use designed mow paths to create structure in large informal areas, instead of maintaining formal lawn. Photo of Moss Mountain Farm, more at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com


Signature Color

Outside the riot of bloom colors, using a signature color to tie together different areas of the garden and give all areas a sense of belonging to a certain place, signature paint color can provide that thread. Moss Mountain features trellis painted in a pale blue/green that match the gate of the decorative chicken pavilion. This color will continue to provide color to the garden, even when nothing is in bloom.

Use of a signature color throughout different garden rooms unifies spaces. garden trellises at Moss Mountain Farm - more images at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

Elements of Moss Mountain farm you can use in your own garden - thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com


Dark Framework

Throughout the farm, the outbuildings all share the same signature dark black/brown color (another signature color). Dark architectural elements provide an amazing backdrop of the varied greens to pop and play hero compared to using white that can steal the spotlight from your plantings.

Dark colors on architectural elements provide striking element to the green foliage in a garden. Fence at Moss Mountain Farm - more at Thinking Outside The Boxwood

A collection of cut floral from uBloom waiting to be arranged, barn at Moss Mountain Farm. More images at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com


Vegetable Garden Architecture

The vegetable garden at Moss Mountain is breathtaking in its formal planting design, scale and planting combination. The scale is difficult for many, but the combination of structure throughout is a source of inspiration and application. Using walk-able tunnels and natural elements for vining plants, a hedge row of asparagus for structure and hierarchy plantings in each bed take the very utilitarian and productive garden into a beautiful to view space. Below Allen used a common hog fence panel to sculpt his tunnel.

Using wire hog fencing to create a creeping vine tunnel to add structure to your vegetable garden. Garden at Moss Mountain Farm - More images at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com



Edibles in Formal Areas

Directly surrounding the house are the formal, terraced gardens which feature a collection of annual and perennial plantings. Throughout the space, specimen edibles are placed to great structure and texture. Espalier apples and pears separate beds areas and a fig tree is focal point down a central pathway.

espiler trees in the formal gardens of Moss Mountain Farm - more images at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

Elements for Moss Mountain Farm you can bring into your own garden. More at Thinkingoutsideboxwood.com


There are many more takeaways for any visitor to Moss Mountain beyond those mentioned above. On top of those listed, I still learned still more about video production, Instagram content, and content creation that I am still digesting.


Clouds rolling in at Moss Mountain Farm - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com


Our travels and the Garden2Grow event were sponsored by a list of great companies listed and linked below. Many of these are brands I have used personally and professionally before this event and continue after, others have altered my habits and the coffee we drink at home after learning from them.

Bonnie Plants

Good Dirt

Crescent Garden

Westrook Coffee Company

Sun Patiens

Sakata Home Grown

Summer Containers using Elephant Ears and Caladiums

GARDEN DESIGN, Landscape Design, Plants

May is providing us a progression of peony and iris blooms, but the life of a gardener is planning for your enjoyment a season or two ahead. Now is the time to plant bulbs for summer containers that will be large and impactful throughout the hot months. Here are two options of bulbs you can plant in containers for high impact this summer.


How to use Elephant Ears and Caladiums in containers for impactful summer containers. From from Thinking Outside the Boxwood




Just as their name suggests, Elephant Ears have oversized leaves and are the alpha element or “thriller” in any container combination. Elephant is blanket common name for the genus Colocasia and Alocasia.  One is not necessarily better than the other.  It just depends on the what characteristics you are looking for.  Recently, most of the breeding has been geared toward Colocasia so you are seeing many interesting variations like Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’ and black foliage Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’. The tubers grow quickly and range from 3 – 5 feet in height. In a 2 feet tall container, you will have a lush, stately 7ft container. Elephant Ears can handle a variety of sun conditions, so are a good placement for anywhere expect heavy shade.


Thanks to their long stocks, you get to have a lot of fun experimenting with the foundation plantings around the tuber. You can go for burst of color or play with textures in the same tones. In the example below, we stayed in the dark tone, but would also look great if you used silver foliage for high contrast. SHOP or EXPLORE additional varieties at Longfield Gardens.

How to use Elephant Ears in Summer Containers. Containers feature - 'Portodora' elephant's ear Alocasia 'Portodora' More at ThinkingOutsidetheboxwood.com

A pair of containers flanking a walkway feature a single dark tone combo of Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’ and Setcreasea pallida ‘Purple Heart.’


How to use Summer Bulbs in Containers. Combo includes 'Portodora' elephant's ear Alocasia 'Portodora' against a black house. more details at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This grouping of three containers from my house last year features ‘Portodora’ elephant’s ear, Alocasia ‘Portodora’ with a mix of under-plantings. The Portodora provided a perfect foil against the black wall of the house.


How to use Elephant Ears in Summer Containers. This combo features Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic' and 'Calidora' elephant's ear (Alocasia 'Calidora'). More combos and details at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This is a grouping of summer containers we completed for a client’s home a few years ago. The house was an impressive Georgian, and the elephant’s ears scale were great for providing the scale needed to match the home. Here you see Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ and ‘Calidora’ elephant’s ear (Alocasia ‘Calidora’) with a few other containers with summer plantings.



Caladiums have the same elongated heart shaped leaf, but offer smaller, delicate and more color variety than elephant ears. What they lack is size, caladiums provide impact from their saturated red and fuchsia foliage and create an explosion of color when combined with bright annuals. Other cultivars like ‘White Christmas’, provide a cooler palate mixed with silvers, blacks and purple companion container plants. They can also work between the “thriller” or “spiller” in container design, depending on your combination. Below White Christmas is used as the thriller, but mixed with an elephant ear could be the filler. SHOP or EXPLORE additional varieties at Longfield Gardens.  In general Caladium prefer some protection from the afternoon sun they work great tucked under a shady overhang or porch.

How to use Caladiums in summer containers. Combo Includes: Caladium 'White Christmas' Foxtail Fern Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' Hedera helix 'Baltica' More at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This smaller container next to a side porch entry, features Caladium ‘White Christmas’, Foxtail Fern / Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’ and Hedera helix ‘Baltica’.


How to use Caladiums in summer containers. Combo includes Caladium 'White Christmas' with ferns. More at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This container features Caladium ‘White Christmas’ with a massing of Boston Ferns. This simple combo is easy to build and can be used with a wide variety of caladiums based on your color preference.


uilding Summer Containers with Caladiums. Combo includes Caladium ‘Florida Cardinal’ More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This final combos feature Caladium ‘Florida Cardinal’ on the left and Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’ on the right, and both showcase how easy it is to add a massing of other annuals with caladiums even in smaller sized containers.


For containers this summer, we have a wide variety of both elephant ears and caladiums to plant and are working on some unique combinations to share once they have matured. Let me know if you have any questions about planting or caring for your summer bulbs.


Interview with Annika Zetterman

DESIGNER INTERVIEW, GARDEN DESIGN, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Interview with Annika Zetterman, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

My last post featured a review of New Nordic Gardens: Scandinavian Landscape Design by Annika Zetterman. I am excited for her book because she has great style and provides a comprehensive foundation of Scandinavian Gardens. Annika was amazing to answer a few of my questions for Thinking Outside the Boxwood, about her favorite products and Nordic plants, restaurants and gems. Her shared sources are like getting a personal tour with Annika, seeing the best shops – coolest restaurants and best nurseries. Thank you Annika for all your answers, and check out her book. Amazon only had 3 copies left (more on their way) the last I checked so act fast, I promise you will enjoy the book. (I have included links to all the locations Annika mentions, and I highly recommend you click through and check out the products or locations, since most translate to English or at least have instagram accounts you can follow for inspiration)



ANDO, a beautiful book by an incredible architect, which a very good friend gave to me, hence even more special.



While most Scandinavians love coffee ( top consumption per capita in the world) tea is my choice, having lived in the UK for many years. Herbal teas is a current favorite, such as “Detox” by Pukka.


I love exciting buildings, sometimes more than the exhibitions. The New Design Museum in London is amazing and so is Tate Modern and Getty Center in LA as well as the former railway station in Paris, Musée d’Orsay.



Stockholm and Sydney, beautifully situated on waters. London, which still feels like a second home, where I lived nearly 10 years.



Favorite Gardens to Visit:


Lundhags, old company in Scandinavia, making classic, durable, cool boots



Felco nr 9, as I am left handed



Tape measure, pencil and drawing pad.



Ferns, due to the architectural appearance yet the lightness they possess.



Hostas that come in many different sizes and colours can look stunning combined. Acer Platanoides and Drummondii is a fascinating variegated tree.



There are plenty, but if I have to pick one, I would say birch trees



Miscanthus and Calamagrostis with sturdiness lasting a very long time and coping with our weather conditions.



ICEHOTEL For a once if a lifetime experience, and a fun adventure, the Icehotel where you will have the chance to see the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) or experience the midnight sun too!



In a region where culinary is on a height, there are heaps. From award winning restaurants like Fäviken, Esperanto and Frantzén to local and seasonal specialities that you find in every corner of the region. If in Stochkolm, perhaps go for a vegetarian choice and culinary experience with amazing views over Stockholm at Fotografiska, or enjoy a relaxing brunch at Café Saturnus or Greasy Spoon. Try vivid coctails at an old pharmacy (first opened on 1575) in Old town in Stockholm, pharmarium.

(Annika also provided a link to a BUZZ FEED article with Scandinavian restaurants with delicately beautiful prepared meals. HERE.)





  • Löddeköpinge plantskola – My personal favourite nursery/garden centre in Sweden, located in southern Sweden, always inspiring and tranquil.
  • Slottsträdgården Ulriksdal just outside Stockholm is a lovely nursery /garden centre with a wide range of plants and products. During harvest season you can pick your own flowers, herbs and veggies to buy. The café serves a delisious vegerarian buffet.