Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending Garden2Grow at P. Allen Smith’s farm in Arkansas, Moss Mountain Farm, with a group of diverse social media influencers. The event, which was organized by Allen and his team, provided us the with opportunity to discuss how we can grow connections through creative and social content, and Moss Mountain Farm provided the dramatic backdrop for those conversations. While we spent two days touring the different areas of the farm from the legendary Poultryville to the vegetable garden, I found the twilight hour of our last day the most empowering at capturing farm’s beauty.

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodTwilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood   Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodTwilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

There is something magical about the lighting at the twilight hour in the garden, the plants seem to glow. Also helps that the other Garden2Grow attendees were sipping cocktails and I had the gardens to myself. The image above is one of my favorites I took that night.

 

In addition to the gardens, another highlight of the event was the stories woven through our guided tours by P. Allen. With my only previous exposure to P. Allen from his books and TV shows, I enjoyed how his personal stories brought additional life to the garden and home.  He is an amazing storyteller (and not to mention quite funny), and you can see how he allowed Moss Mountain to continue tell that story with the details incorporated into the house, gardens and animals on the farm.  Allen was a tremendous host and I hope I have an opportunity to visit with him again in the future.

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

The gardens surrounding the house were divided by elevation, structures, hedges and gates to create different rooms. This helped create different vistas in the garden and guide you from space to space.

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

garden2grow (9 of 116) Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Hedges throughout the property help provide mystery to what is around the next corner or force you to engage within the immediate space.

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Another favorite space that included hedges, fence and structure. My favorite juxtaposition of this elevated design moment is 180 degrees behind you is a wild path overlooking a pond below.

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Outside of being a passionate landscape designer and tv most Allen’s passion also lies in heritage bread poultry.  “Poultryville’ is his palatial poultry playground where he and his staff and preserving the genetics strains of birds that might otherwise be lost over the next few years.  You can hear the passion in his voice when he speaks on the topic.

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Twilight at Moss Mountain Farm, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

P. Allen Smith's poultry barn at Moss Mountain Farm with style influences from Palladian architecture . Image from Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com P. Allen Smith's Home viewed from near the poultry barn.  Moss Mountain Farm outside Little Rock, AK

I really enjoyed my time at Moss Mountain Farm with the team from P. Allen Smith, Garden2Grow influencers and the sponsors of the whole event. I wish I could have spent a bit more time in Little Rock explore the amazing food and drink scene!

SPONSORED: My trip to Moss Mountain Farm for the Garden2Grow event was paid for by the following sponsors.

 

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale

C O N T A I N E R S, container | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Here is my third installment on container gardens with selecting a container based on size and scale. This post has taken me over a week to write as I found explaining scale outside a specific environment tricky.  You see images of amazing containers, but its difficult to judge the exact size of  a container based on the size of plants alone. Since you want the investment in your vessel last for years, getting the right size is important. Hopefully below I am able to give some guidance in selecting a good size.

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

First, in selecting a container there are four features to evaluate, including size. All of these are factors you need to evaluate before you start with the artistry in building the plant pairings for your container.

 

  • MATERIAL. There is a wide range of materials to select from including metal, wood, pottery and composites. The choice of material will also depend on where you live and if the containers need to remain outdoors year round in addition to personal preference.
  • STYLE. From modern to Victorian, rustic to mid century there are no shortage in container style choices. These can either reflect the architecture of the surrounding buildings/gardens or be chosen for a distinct contrast.
  • PLACEMENT. The beauty of containers is their ability to be placed anywhere. Given their dramatic quality, containers are often used to highlight key areas like focal points and entrances or hide other flaws.
  • SIZE/SCALE. This is the trickiest factor in selecting container, especially when ordering from a thumbnail.  Larger containers allow you to add mature plants and more plantings compared to smaller containers. They also take up a bigger footprint so are harder to place. You need to consider the depth and opening width of the container and if it will work with the planting style you like.

 

For size you have to evaluate both the WIDTH and HEIGHT of the container.

WIDTH: Start with measuring the area you want to place the container. If next to a door, this would be the landing or steps. You are often limited with space on porches so the width will need to stay with in this area. If on the edge of a patio or large area, you have more range in the size you can use. Pick a width that allows some movement around the container to accommodate traffic.

 

HEIGHT: There is more flexibility in the height of a container. Look for a height that will be noticed in your chosen location, low bowls next to doors might be outside visitor’s sight lines. (Note that you will fill with plants so the height will be even taller). Also consider the best depth for the root structure (trees like deeper containers).

 

 

Here is a comparison of eight different containers next to a standard door (the door to our nursery). Using a standard door, you can see how the size of each container compares. If you have a specific container in mind, you can compare against these to see what it will look like next your door.

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Here are two items to keep in mind while selecting the container: 

A MINIMUM SIZE: Generally, I stay clear of containers smaller than 12″ wide. The smaller containers require more frequent watering and do not make a big impact on their own. If you are looking to make an impact, look in the 20″ wide range or bigger. You can then add smaller containers to make a grouping, but I recommend starting  with the main focal container first and then add on with the smaller containers.

 

RULE OF THREE: If you are going to make a grouping, aim for three containers in three different sizes. The three containers will make a bigger foot print. Play with three different heights and a mix of shapes or material.

 

 

 

GOOD RESOURCES: Here are some great resources for purchasing containers if you are looking for vendors that are easy to order/purchase and have a great selection of quality and unique containers. There are also great to the trade resources that are available at your local garden centers, but the five listed below are accessible to everyone and a good place to start your search.

 

Crate & Barrel: I have used personally and for clients containers from Crate & Barrel. The feature modern shapes, and from year to year include some larger scale containers. They also offer a range of materials. It is also nice since you can see these often in person at a local store before purchasing.  This photo features Crate & Barrel containers purchased a few years ago.

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This is a series of six Crate & Barrel containers purchased three years ago that are placed along a low retaining wall in a pool area. 

 

West ElmI like West Elm containers for the same reasons as Crate & Barrel; modern, range of sizes, can see in person and range of materials offered at great prices. This season in particular I really like the shapes and range of sizes offered. I have also used these at home/clients and they have lasted season to season.

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Monstera deliciosa- Swiss Cheese plant

We planted a Monstera deliciosa in this West Elm container, and bring in doors every winter. He has been happy in this container for the past three years with his in/outdoor lifestyle. 

 

 

Detroit Garden Works: This is my go to resource for unique and quality containers for clients. We make the drive north 1-2 times a year to buy something for a client. Deborah and Rob have an amazing eye for finding the best items from the USA and Europe. We are really fortunate to have such a great resource close by. They ship across country, but their site is a great resource for window shopping for types of containers you like.

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here a photo is the same container from Detroit Garden Works in the summer and fall that is planted with a Japanese Maple Tree and grouped with smaller containers. The scale of this planter very tall (about 10 feet with the tree), but matches the scale of the home. The clustering of smaller seasonal containers gives freshness, for the year round container design.  

 

 

Restoration Hardware: I have used Restoration Hardware containers for both clients and currently at my in-law’s home, and the quality for metal containers is really great. We can leave these containers outdoors year round (with below freezing temperatures) and they hold up for going on 5 years. The styles offered are more traditional and come in very large scale sizes that are often needed depending on the scale of the home.

 

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This is a pair of the Restoration Hardware Estate Zinc Paneled Planters flanking the front stairs of this home.  These are the Large size at 28″ sq., 28″H. We planted with a tall banana to bring the height of the container in line with the front door that is four steps higher.  This sizes also allows us to fill with plenty of under plantings to keep the container full. 

 

Terrain: Terrain carries the vintage and exclusive containers that showcase the, Oh I have had this container forever (but really just purchased). They are also plants people so offer a range of containers for different plants and uses. If you are privileged enough to live near the Glen Mills or Westport locations, you have the added benefit to build your container with plants while you are at the store to take home and plant.

Selecting Containers: Size and Scale, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here is a pair of 16′ x16′ Fiberclay Barrel pots designed based on the difficult to come-by (unless you want to pay $200 plus) zinc Dolly Pots.  I have had great luck with Fiberclay pots holding up to our freezing temperatures from year to year, and at $78 for the large is a good value. 

 

I hope you find information on scale and size helpful in selecting a container. It’s most important to select something you love and will enjoy, and if that breaks all rules who cares.

Containers – Look for Something Different

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I admit I was a bit jealous over the weekend watching everyone’s Instagram posts from Trade Secrets and even worst, the mad rush of finishing RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens (have you seen photos of Dan Pearson’s garden yet?) I was able to console myself with a trip to Dawes Arboretum and Springfield Antique show with the family.  At Dawes, I found a new respect for rhododendrons, which were in full bloom with their rainbow of flowers. Typically you see the pinks and whites, but Dawes had some amazing purples, yellows, reds and oranges.  In particular I really liked Rhododendron yakushimanum ‘Yaku Angel’. (sorry only photo I took was of the ID tag).

 

Sunday we went to Springfield Antique Show, and even though it was the last day I was still able to find some good deals.  Besides purchasing some plants, I found an assortment of items to add to my ever-growing collection of potential garden containers. I justify buying them with plans to sell to clients, but so far have not be able to part with very many. What I normally purchase are items that had a previous utilitarian life before I transform into a container. Others are unique cast iron garden urns that you don’t see very often, such as my Kramer Brothers urns. Often I get questioned what I am going to do with an item, and only when potted is the vision clear.

 

Containers - Look for Something Different, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

My current collection of barrels. The smallest (purchased this weekend) is a street cleaner’s rubbish bin. The wider was found at an Amish farm, not sure what they used it for. Finally, I don’t know what the tall narrow barrel was used for, but love the graphic quality of the lettering. These are great pulled together, but each was used for a completely different reason before. The galvanized feed bin was a purchase last year mainly because it still had the feed label. All these containers have been planted this year with a mix of annuals, perennials and vegetables.

 

Containers - Look for Something Different, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I have a pair of these long baskets which I plan to have brackets made and turn into moss lined window baskets. We don’t have a window to use these yet, so will be awhile before get implemented.

 

Containers - Look for Something Different, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This long galvanized feeder has great crisp edges and is very long. This could be a beverage holder for our next family function, or will be great filled with a selection of herbs. Lots of options with this container.

 

Containers - Look for Something Different, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This is a small chicken feeder I purchased because of the crimped edges. The plan was to fill with succulents, but I have not gotten around to it.

 

Containers - Look for Something Different, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

These are a pair of urns that I saw this weekend, but did not purchase. They are a little smaller than I like to use since can only fill with 1-2 plants, but the rope and tassel handles were a great detail. They wanted $350 for the pair, which being cast iron in good condition, is a good price.

 

Containers - Look for Something Different, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

There was also a booth with a collection of chimney pots or caps (these are just two). I have seen these used in a grouping of containers, flanking doorways and mixed within a perennial bed. I am waiting for find one for a great deal or in a design I have not seen before.

 

For complete disclosure this is just the tip of the collection I have. The majority of our items are in storage while we wait for our house to be built (this has been two years in the making). Once we finally have a permanent home and garden I will have all my containers together and will be able to evaluate what to keep and what to sell. Just with plants, I buy based on emotion and eventually find the container the perfect home.