Category: Seasons

Tulip Displays in Arkansas

Arkansas attracts travelers from all over the country with all the splendor the Natural State has to offer, especially in spring. The vivid blooms of tulips usher in the warmer months and knock out the remaining gray of winter.

Here are a few of the state’s most spectacular tulip displays:

Moss Mountain Farm

We’ve planted 8,000 tulip bulbs at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home this year. I choose an array of types, bloom times and colors, including: ‘Blushing Girl’, ‘Menton’, ‘Maureen’, ‘Negrita’, ‘Princess Irene’, ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘Daydream’, ‘Red Impression’, ‘Golden Parade’, ‘Apeldoorn’, ‘West Point’ and ‘Red Shine’. The vast diversity of tulips makes them one of my favorite flowers¬— I never get tired of growing them.

The tulip display makes April’s tours at the farm a real treat. One of the greatest joys of gardening for me is to share the beauty with visitors, making the tours of the farm very personally rewarding. There are four tours that will be available in April, the 4th, 5th, 11th and 25th. These give me a chance to meet fellow gardeners, poultry enthusiasts and flower lovers. Plus when I see visitors enjoying the farm, it renews it for me; I see it in a fresh light. Click here to learn more about visiting the farm.

Garvin Woodland Gardens

Garvin Woodland Gardens boasts a spectacular display of tulips every spring for its Tulip Extravaganza. This 210-acre garden, owned by the University of Arkansas, has planted 130,000 tulips of all types this year. Just outside of Hot Springs, a spa city famed for its purportedly healing waters, the garden makes for an excellent day trip. The tulips are planted in curving, full beds, blocked by their respective colors – pink, red, purple, orange and variegated – and surrounded with still-blooming daffodils and hyacinths. The sheer numbers overwhelm your senses with beauty, and it’s simply impossible to take a bad picture in these gardens. If you’re in Arkansas in the spring, this is a must-see. The Tulip Extravaganza is March 16 through April 16, 2013. Click here for details.

Downtown Little Rock

The streets of downtown Little Rock are bursting with pink and purple tulips this month. I partnered with the City of Little Rock this year to create March Tulip Madness, and we filled planters around downtown with 25,000 tulips bulbs as part of the city’s effort to revitalize downtown.

I choose a blend of three different types for the planters: ‘Menton’, ‘Pink Impression’ and ‘Negrita’, which when combined create a pleasing pink and purple display. These mid and late bloomers take full advantage of the season and make stunning streetscapes. Read about everything you can do in downtown Little Rock.

Argenta Arts District of North Little Rock

The Argenta Arts District of North Little Rock is another fantastic place to see tulips. The city planted 28,000 ‘Red Impression’ tulips this year. These bright flowers reach the peak of their blooming in late March and continue through early April. They are growing in beds and planters throughout the Arts District.

One of the most wonderful aspects of this display is that the majority were planted by 75 volunteers last fall during a tulip planting party. The Bank of America, the North Little Rock City Beautiful Commission and the Park Hill Garden Club partnered to sponsor this effort, and the red tulips paired with yellow spring flowers create a vivid contrast in the district’s streets. Find out what’s going on in Argenta.

Spring is Luncheon Season!

For more spring party inspiration read my column in this month’s issue of AY magazine. You can find it online here. Read the entire article here.

The equinox on March 20th is the official beginning of spring, which is cause for celebration don’t you think?

Hosting a get-together doesn’t need to be a lot of work, especially during this gentle season. You can make your fete memorable and keep it simple by following these helpful tips.


Use both indoor and outdoor spaces. To accommodate spring’s unpredictable weather set up the dining indoors and the pre-meal gathering outdoors. Your guests can enjoy some time in the garden, but you won’t have to scramble if the day turns out dreary.


Be old-fashioned and send a written invitation. This extra step makes even small gatherings more special.


Luncheons are tailor-made for fresh spring ingredients like salad greens, English peas and asparagus so stick to dishes that feature the flavors of the season.

Table Setting

Spring is the most ethereal season; set a special table to reflect this feeling. Use spring-centric colors or delicate tableware to set the tone. You can’t go wrong with a white table cloth, but bright hues are a fun way to create a lively mood.


March Bloom: Daffodils

We’ve planted 280,000 daffodils at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home. You might say I’m a little daffodil crazy, but what’s not to love about this cheery little flower? They are one of the first blooms to appear in spring, the fragrance is heavenly, and they are perennial. Plus the deer won’t eat them.

Right now the daffodils are in full bloom out at the farm and it’s a sight to behold.


If pictures aren’t enough for your daffodil loving heart, make a trip out to farm for one of our Daffodil Days open houses. Click here to learn more.

Growing Edibles in Small Spaces

This is an excerpt from my column in AY Magazine. Read the entire article here.

You don’t need a lot of space to grow vegetables and herbs. In fact, in a 4 x 4 raised bed you can grow enough food to feed a family of four. You can supplement your groceries with edibles grown in containers, hanging baskets, pallet gardens and window boxes.

Need inspiration? Check out these photos.

You can grow many ebibles in a window box. Here I've planted cool season herbs, lettuce and strawberries. Geraniums are in the mix to take over when the weather warms.

Drill a few holes in the bottom and a galvanized pale turns into a chic planter.

GrowBoxes are ideal for limited space and time. The water tank and slow release fertilizer strip take the guess work out.

A pot of annuals or colorful vegetables creates a focal point in a raised bed.

Edibles and flowers make beautiful companions. Here I've planted dwarf cherry tomatoes, purple basil and red geraniums.

These 3 containers will yield plenty of strawberries, chard and English peas for me to eat.

Tomatoes are happy in pots. Choose a determinate (grows to a determined size) variety and stake as soon as you plant.


February Bloom: Camellia Japonica

One of the showiest blooms in a Southern garden makes its appearance in late February when everything else is still asleep. It’s the Camellia japonica, cousin to the autumn flowering Camellia sasanqua. While sasanquas tend to be delicate, Camellia japonica is a bold, fleshy flower that screams, “Look at me!”

With their dark, evergreen leaves Camellias make beautiful hedges and the blooms create a seasonal focal point.

January Giveaway – Self-watering Seedling Greenhouse

Congratulations to Anita Spence! She’s the randomly selected winner of the Self-watering Greenhouse. Check your email Anita for confirmation!

When it comes to sowing seeds I love English peas, sweet peas, hyacinth bean vine, gourds, yard long green beans and of course, sunflowers.

What’s your favorite plant to grow from seeds? Tell me for a chance to win a Jiffy self-watering seedling greenhouse. This handy seed starting tray comes with starter pellets, a no-mess self-watering mat and a lid to keep in moisture.

Enter your response in the comments section below and I’ll pick a random winner on Wednesday February 6, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. CST. Click here for the official rules.

Fabulous Tobi Fairley Giveaway

Congratulations to Marilyn Herdon! She is the randomly selected winner of Tobi’s St. Nick Pillow. Woot woot!

Designer Tobi Fairley joins us today on my blog to spread some holiday cheer with a special giveaway – a pillow from her Saint Nick collection.

Hello, friends and fans of Allen!

Over at my blog, I’m giving thanks for all sorts of wonderful things in my life: people, places, opportunities, experiences, transformations, and more. I am so grateful for wonderful friends like Allen, with whom I can share big ideas about design, entertaining, food, and the outdoors! Another HUGE part of my gratitude is for the pleasure of giving, so I want to give something special to one of you this week to kick-off your holiday season!

If you leave a comment on this post telling Allen and me what you’re giving thanks for this week, you’ll be entered to win one of my Tobi Fairley Home pillows from the Saint Nick collection! The winner will be selected by random draw on Wednesday 12/05/12.

Sometimes an accent pillow is ALL it takes to make a sofa or chair festive and fun for the holiday season!

Find more inspiration from my Pinterest board: Holiday Treats & Decor

(like this sweet pic…)

Best of luck!


Christmas Comes Early

“What do you do every day?” It’s a question I’ve been asked, always politely, throughout my entire career. And it is a fair question. Do I spend all my time in the garden, making recipes, or choosing paint colors? Do I have an army of workers running crazy while I sit back and drink hot cocoa? Do I spend one day a week writing, another filming, another speaking, and another managing my farm?

Honestly, it’s a little bit of each of those (with the exception of the hot cocoa. In Arkansas there is a small window of time when it’s cold enough to drink hot cocoa.). The average week involves all of those details, but usually there’s a little something extra thrown into the mix.

Recently, it was shooting a commercial for my Holiday Collection with Berry Family of Nurseries. Filming is a part of daily life at the Garden Home, but we decided to rent out a studio for a new look for this commercial.

Here are a few things I learned about making commercials:

You have to take your shoes off when walking on an all-white set, otherwise you track dirt onto the set. If you do it correctly, though, the magic of television can turn an empty set into a fully decorated room in the snap of a finger.

It’s better to just bring most of the shirts in your closet, because you never know what is “holiday appropriate,” especially when it’s still 80 degrees outside.

Even a small amount of greenery can get you into the Christmas spirit, especially when the greenery was flown in just that morning from the Cascade Mountains in western Oregon.

It takes a lot of people to make a commercial come together. Luckily, I’ve got a very talented crew.

Five hours, three cups of coffee, one rented studio, a dozen set changes, 10 different wreaths, and a crew of 8 people later, we had a commercial.

Well, let me rephrase that. We had the footage for a commercial, and now it falls to the editing team back at the office. And I will say this much- I can’t wait to see what they produce.


Design maven Tobi Fairley is back with this guest post about one of my favorite summer fabrics – seersucker.

Hello Allen’s readers…and hello summer!!

Warmer temps and the relaxed, lazy days of summer call for a cool, casual fabric that can be your go-to for any situation. What am I talking about? Seersucker, of course!

I recently had the opportunity to host an entire party built around the simplistic beauty of this carefree fabric. It’s featured in this month’s issue of Southern Living. You can check out those tips for building a party theme around this popular pattern here, but today I want to share with you a few of the reasons why I have a passion for seersucker.

1. It’s refined — yet, relaxed. In other words, it’s one of the most multipurpose fabrics known to man. I used it to create a beautiful luncheon table, gentlemen don it for the Kentucky Derby, and yet it’s still a beach-bum favorite for shorts and skirts. The classic stripes give it a polished appeal, while the lightweight cotton fabric makes it easy to use or wear!

2. Wrinkles are welcomed. Like I said, it’s relaxed. Part of seersucker’s beauty lies in the “puckers” or characteristic wrinkles you’ll find in the pattern. They are like a great patina on an old weather vane or a wooden fence that has gotten just the right amount of sun. They add character and give the fabric part of its appeal. Plus, there’s no need to iron!

3. Can you say Southern staple? From the Carolina shores to The Grove, you’ll find seersucker being displayed in every Southern state. Whether it’s a monogrammed set of cocktail napkins, a child’s swimsuit or an upholstered settee, nothing screams summer in the South like seersucker. The U.S. Senate even has a day known as “Seersucker Thursday” where all members are encouraged to wear suits cut from this cloth. The tradition is a nod to the days when Senators from the South changed to the lightweight fabric during the warm months, and in turn started a trend that was followed by their friends from the North.

Can you see why I love it so much?? It’s hard not to like something that’s tried-and-true as well as versatile. Leave a comment and tell us how you use seersucker.

Happy summer!

xo, Tobi

[images: Southern Living, Google &]

Red Alert for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

In honor of National Migratory Bird Day on May 12, I just wanted to alert you that in Arkansas, this is Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Migration Time!

I have been waiting and watching because the Rubies should be back in Arkansas any day now. Usually they start arriving in early April, and sometimes they come as early as mid-to-late March and then leave again in September or October.

This year, for some reason they’re a little late but I am busy preparing my hummingbird feeders because once they’re back – they’re hungry from their flight up from the south.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds normally spend the winter in Central America and their trek north is an amazing one. These tiny flyers manage to fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico, traveling up to 2500 miles each fall on their way to nest. From March through May they pass through the eastern two thirds of Texas. Some swing up through Cuba and Florida, probably with a stop at a resort hotel in Orlando, you can bet!

Other brave, strong Rubies barrel straight across the Gulf of Mexico. The birds reach the southern Gulf coast in late February and early March. Later migrants fly to breeding grounds further north so their arrival time to their nesting grounds coincides with when their food source plants are blooming. Only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird breeds east of the Mississippi River. The tiny little newborn hummingbird is about the size of a honeybee, their egg, the size of a pea.

Conversely, their departure times corresponds with the end of the blooming period for those nutrient plants. The fall migration lasts from late July until late October in the southern states.

Nearly all Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds fly south of Mississippi for the winter. Ten other species can be seen in the region during winter so it’s a good idea to leave at least one feeder out.

Amazingly, the Ruby-throat beats its wings 40-80 times a second, and maintains an average flight speed of 30 mph while their escape speeds can reach 50 mph. No wonder they can outdistance Marge my cat!