Wednesday, June 13, 2012

P. Allen Smith's Garden2Blog Adventure: Part 1

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be invited to P. Allen Smith's Garden2Blog Retreat. The Arkansas-based garden guru invited some of the top garden bloggers from the region to come tour his Garden Home Retreat, meet his sponsors, learn more about blogging and gardening and make new friends! As Allen writes an amazing monthly garden column in AY Magazine, I — not a garden blogger by any means — was beside myself with glee to be invited to this two-day event to learn and try my best to keep up with all the super talented garden bloggers. Here are some highlights from day one of my adventure!

On day one, the bloggers met at the Capital Hotel and were bussed out to Scott, Ark., to tour the beautiful Marlsgate Plantation a beautiful Greek Revival Mansion owned and operated by David Paul Garner, Jr. Marlsgate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and widely known as THE place to have weddings and other events in Arkansas. 

Rear of the plantation home.

Statue in the greenhouse.

The most interesting room in the home, unfortunately closed to visitors. Where did all these animal heads come from?!

Beautiful boxwood garden and fountain.

After a hilarious tour of the home by Garner, and delicious treats and punch, we bussed back over to North Little Rock's Argenta Arts District for a bloggers' seminar by Jay Baer — one of the country's top social media consultants — and lunch catered by Starving Artist Cafe. Then we were off to Allen's "city home" in Little Rock's beautiful historic Quapaw Historic District. He purchased the home for $1 and moved it to its current location for renovation. 

Allen strikes a pose/leads the tour of his beautiful garden home. Each "room" is unique and always changing.

The vegetable garden was packed with lettuce for the bloggers' salad-making competition! We cut the leaves, sprayed them with BioSafe Systems Sanidate Ready-to-Use Fruit and Vegetable Wash and got creative preparing dinner salads for all the bloggers!

Beautiful flower beds.

Taking a salad-making break at Allen's Little Rock home.

As nearly every sponsor presentation became a competition (which I LOVED) we broke up into teams for a container garden contest using super-rich Black Gold soil. Here I am with team "Edimentals." We used a mix of ornamental and edible plants for our lovely container creation. These are my talented teammates Linda Tyson, Monica Milla and Carri Stokes.

Go team Edimentals!

**Meals and transportation were provided at G2B, and some sponsors supplied bloggers with free samples of products with no obligation to endorse. These opinions are my own. I promise. Thanks for reading!

Click here for more info on Garden2Blog and look for my account of Day 2 (involving more pictures, chickens and The Grumpy Gardener serenading us with Johnny Cash) coming soon!