SOME 45 MINUTES west of Little Rock, Moss Mountain Farm is calm, serene. Even on a warm day, everything seems imbued with life, touched by magic, the perimeter of P. Allen Smith’s 650-ish-acre property no doubt enchanted to guarantee that anything within it sparkles. It’s gotta be said, though: The amount of effort to maintain the property, the brand, to keep it all aloft, is very real—and nothing short of Herculean.
The photograph that appears at right was taken on a Thursday morning, one equal parts tranquil and hectic. Immediately before meeting us in the rose garden, Allen had been filming an episode of P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home about purple—purple in the garden, purple flowers, purple perennials—and immediately after, lunched with three room-spanning tables of visitors. Shortly after that, he gave an informal talk-slash-Q&A that covered everything from rose-rosette disease (a question put to him from an Englishman) to the trick of keeping hydrangeas from drooping (it’s alum).
But the truth is, there’s so, so very much more to Moss Mountain than what meets the eye. The rose garden? It’s home to what Allen says are more than half the noisettes still in existence. The gate? Crowned by a bonnet he found in the back of a North Little Rock shop, its rivets placing it circa 1830. The gravel? Chosen to help lessen the carbon footprint.
To hear Allen say it, “The whole idea is to delight and surprise.” And no matter where you look, rest assured—that’s very much the case.
How much land do they have at Moss Mountain? “I never know,” Allen says. “It depends on the river. The river giveth and the river taketh away. We have a mile on the river. When it’s dry we have a lot.”
Medici-Inspired Garden Design
“I studied garden history and design in England. [As] part of my work, I went abroad in Italy and was very interested in the Florentine gardens. And the ramp you see here was based on the Villa Medici. Well, if we did stairs, it would make it very inaccessible to many people. Plus, it was bloody expensive. Doggone, it was expensive. So, I just thought, why don’t we copy the best?”
“We believe there are about 67 noisettes still in existence. Jefferson, we believe, grew them at Monticello. They became very popular around 1810 and beyond. They’re fragrant and small. They’re not big, hybrid tea roses. So, we’ve collected about 38 noisettes. So, this serves as a repository for the genetics of the noisettes.”
“We’re all about teaching people the importance of pollinators. And so, the gardens, the vegetables up there, are really meant to be a garden of diversity. … We have a lot of interesting insects. Our honey bees, we’ve gone from one hive to 11, and lots of honey.”
Peace and Quiet
“I think there’s a strong spiritual component to the quietness, the silence and the tranquility. And we hear this from our visitors. And as you can see, they come from all over.”
“We built the house on the show from the ground up, both houses. And we showed, every step of the way, why we made the choices we made. And we tried to be really careful with the trees and the landscape. The bird life here, in 12 years, has been remarkable. Now I see so many more species of songbirds than I did when we first came here.”
Want to see Moss Mountain Farm for yourself? Sign up for a tour at pallensmith.com/tours