The Garden Home Retreat

From an early age I've known that my passion in life is gardening, but the pursuit of this passion has taken me on a journey that I could hardly have imagined when I first picked up a trowel.

Much like a rampantly growing vine, my gardening career has expanded in many directions, each twisting tendril or unfurling leaf seeming to have its own objective. In hindsight I now see that all of these parts have been working together to bring me where I am at present, not at an end, but a beginning, for today I start work on my Garden Home Retreat.

I suppose the story behind the Garden Home Retreat really began on my grandfather's farm in Tennessee. This is where I developed my love of the countryside. The expansive landscape instilled in me a sense of solitude and tranquility that can only be matched by those that I came to know in England. I often find myself recreating these bucolic scenes in my paintings: the gentle rolling hills, grazing cattle, streams, ponds and pastures divided by fences and hedgerows.

About 10 years ago I decided that I would start looking for that special place that captured the same spirit of my grandfather's farm. When I came across an old farmstead on a plateau overlooking the Arkansas River Valley it stirred something within me and I knew immediately that it was exactly what I was looking for.

In a way I'm glad that it took me so long to find the right place because during that time of searching my vision for the property had a chance to grow and mature.

For several years now I have been touting the idea of the garden home, a place that blurs the lines between indoors and out, expanding our living space into the garden and our garden into our homes. The Garden Home Retreat is my expression of this concept.

My goal is to create not just a temporary "idea house," that is viewed and forgotten, but an on going project that serves as a working model to teach us lessons in garden design, sustainable living and good stewardship.

The house will be modestly sized and built with sustainable materials. Transitional spaces between the home and garden such as a sleeping porch and an outdoor kitchen will allow for spending more time outdoors.

Designed in the ferme ornee (ornamental farm) style, the garden will be both beautiful and useful. For example a vegetable garden can be designed to be pleasing to the eye as well as a source for food. Flower borders can serve a secondary purpose of being a place to test and observe plants before using them on a broader canvas.

I hope that over the course of the next year you will follow the progress of building the house and gardens through my website and television shows. And in years to come I'll continue to share lessons learned at the Garden Home Retreat. It promises to be yet another twist in my pursuit of gardening. One could say that the vine of my career has just sprouted a whole new branch.

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