Last week I took part in a very special event, the second annual Garden2Blog. Hosted by garden and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith, 24 garden bloggers from all over the country descended upon Little Rock, Arkansas to tour gardens, visit Allen’s spectacular garden homes, and spend time with each other. The event surpassed my expectations by far, not an easy achievement. For the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of posts to share this special journey with you.
Our first stop on our epic garden tour adventure was Marlsgate Plantation, a graceful and beautiful place that took us back to another time. This private estate was in ruins and being used as a barn when Mr. David P. Garner’s grandmother gifted it to him. He painstakingly revived it—all 32 rooms—to its former grandeur. David decorated the Greek revival manse in a way that only southern gentry can do—with no apology for lavishness and luxury. Each room is resplendent with an astounding collection of crystal, French porcelain, Oriental rugs, Carrara marble fireplaces and period furnishings.
As a self-proclaimed fiberholic, I was fascinated with the exquisite textiles—the hand-stitched quilts covering the beds, the formal silk and velvet draperies garnished with all manner of tassels, the lace pillows.
Mr. David P. Garner is the quintessential southern gentleman. As he stood on the grand staircase in the central hall, he drew us into his world and charmed us as he described the resurrection of Marlsgate. Dressed in a linen jacket and with a twinkle in his eye, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if he pulled a rabbit out of a hat. A naturally gifted storyteller and entertainer, we wished we had more time to listen to his stories about Marlsgate. But the gardens were beckoning.
P. Allen Smith’s expert design hand was evident in the serene, green gardens surrounding the mansion, and as we walked on trellised pathways that led from garden room to garden room, we drank in the cool, splashing fountains and lush plantings. The stately conservatory was a destination in itself, with a view to the oaks and expansive green lawns that rolled down to the edge of the river.
Later on, we’ll travel to Gaines, P. Allen Smith’s original garden home, in the heart of Little Rock. Join us!
DISCLOSURE: Attendees at Garden2Blog 2012, including myself, received transportation, accommodations and meals during the event. Event sponsors provided samples and product giveaways at no cost or obligation. All opinions are my own.