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820 Monte Sano Boulevard Huntsville, AL 35801 256-539-9699 |

Home Goods | Kitchen + Bar Essentials | Events | Catering Monday – Friday: 10am – 5pm · Saturday: 10am – 3pm Weekday Lunch: 11am – 2pm · Saturday Brunch: 10am – 2pm 462 Lane Drive · Florence, AL 35630 · 256.760.1090 ·

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964 Airport Rd, Ste 1 Huntsville, AL

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ON THE COVER: Meandering walkways border the garden of John and Flo Stallworth’s Athens home.


Architect Frank Nola and landscape designer Eddie Ray achieve beauty, order, and functionality in three of Huntsville's most spectacular gardens.

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Nurturing and encouraging literacy, curbside. 20 TRADITION WITH A TWIST BY SARA WRIGHT COVINGTON  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

Family heirlooms, contemporary fixtures, and rambunctious color help make this Valley house home for a family of eight. 50 GALLERY TOUR



A 1970s Federal style home in the Twickenham is splendidly reborn to suit the aesthetic and practical needs of an art-loving family. 62 FRUITS OF LABOR BY SARA WRIGHT COVINGTON  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

The sustenance and fellowship of the North Alabama community garden movement both nourishes and nurtures its users. 70 ARTIST IN RESIDENCE BY SARA WRIGHT COVINGTON  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

Artist Tiril Benton reflects on life, art, motherhood, and the comfort of home.




A warm and welcoming Blossomwood home mirrors the stately grandeur of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.











editor’s letter « Roy Hall

no’ala huntsville advisory board Osie Adelfang ARC Design-Build, Inc. Lynne Berry HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Sarah Brewer Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer Kimberly Casey Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Donna Castellano Historic Huntsville Foundation Aissa Castillo Dan Halcomb Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Lauren McCaul Guy McClure, Jr. Athens State University Tom Patterson Dr. Holly Powe Calhoun Community College Olivia Reed Olivia Reed Photography Patrick Robbins Huntsville Hospital Ashley Ryals Homegrown Huntsville Jennifer Swoboda Hagerman & Company Junior League of Huntsville Lauren Tomasella Carney Lauren Tomasella Photography Ashley Vaughn White Rabbit Studios/Vertical House Records Charles Vaughn Vaughn Lumber Company Andrew Wilmon Broadway Theatre League

The More Things Change... If you believe the adage that change only makes things more the same, No’Ala should be more like itself than ever before. And despite all the flux around here lately, oddly enough, we are. Just in case our big news somehow passed you by, Allen Tomlinson, No’Ala editor and co-founder, and the nimblest thinker this side of the Mississippi, began making the case for increased cancer research from the other side of Portland’s Willamette River back in May, as marketing director for the Knight Cancer Institute. Meanwhile, your humble new editor moved in the opposite direction, eastward approximately 50 feet, to the former office of our art director, David Sims, who still makes No’Ala beautiful, only these days virtually. Matt Liles, our president, still steers the ship, now from Allen’s old office. The rest of the No’Ala family—Jamie, Rowan, Patrick, Sara, Carole, Duell, Lauren M., Lauren T., Aissa, and our small army of brilliant freelance photographers, writers, and artists—have all stayed right where they were before. And thank goodness for that. Change may make things more the same, but it’s still nice to have a fixed, familiar point in the center of our hectic lives. That’s also about as good a definition of home as there is. Making homes beautiful is another story, and two Valley designers share theirs for our annual Home and Garden issue. Frank Nola helps two art-loving families realize their dream homes in very different ways. Dorrie and Jerry Nutt’s Blossomwood home reflects the couple’s admiration for Thomas Jefferson’s neoclassical masterpiece, Monticello, while Nola’s spectacular reimagining of Kerry and Tom Doran’s Twickenham stunner creates a showplace for the couple’s extensive art collection. Decatur-based Miranda Alexander makes home sweet, stylish, and practical by integrating cherished family mementoes into her design for a couple and their six children. And artist Tiril Benton tells us the stories behind her own mementoes— canvases inspired by her personal history and imagination that line the walls of her cozy, comfortable home. The beauty and bounty of the great outdoors are represented here as well—in lush landscapes designed by Eddie Ray of The Greenery and Frank Nola, and in the nourishing harvests of community gardens, whose missions to nourish bodies and souls feels a lot like home, too.

July/August 2016 VOLUME 5: ISSUE 4

C. Allen Tomlinson PUBLISHER


Matthew Liles PRESIDENT



News, classical music and more



Aissa Castillo, Lauren McCaul SHOPGIRLS

Carole Maynard

88.7 FM Muscle Shoals • 100.7 FM Huntsville


Duell Aldridge DISTRIBUTION CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sara Wright Covington, Sarah Gaede, Roy Hall, Chris Paysinger, David Sims CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Patrick Hood, Lauren Tomasella Carney, Sweet Indigo Photography No’Ala Huntsville is published six times annually by No’Ala Studios PO Box 2530, Florence, AL 35630 Phone: (256) 766-4222 » (800) 779-4222 Standard postage paid at Huntsville, AL. A one-year subscription is $19.95 for delivery in the United States. Signed articles reflect only the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. © 2008-2016 No’Ala Studios, All rights reserved. Send all correspondence to Roy Hall, Editor, at the postal address above, or by email to To advertise, contact us at (256) 766-4222 or The editor will provide writer’s guidelines upon request. Prospective authors should not submit unsolicited manuscripts; please query the editor first. No’Ala Huntsville is printed with vegetable-based inks. Please recycle.

Connect with us on Facebook: No’Ala Studios Instagram: noalastudios, Pinterest: NoAlaStudios, and Twitter: @NoAla_Magazine

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A financial planning and wealth management firm. 3800 Colonnade Parkway, Suite 300 Birmingham, Alabama 35243, Phone: (205) 208.8700 400 Meridian Street, Suite 200, Huntsville, Alabama 35801, Phone: (256) 970.6888 • Bridgeworth, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser.

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Now – October 30, 2016 Encounters: Dustin Farnsworth The latest exhibition in this long-standing showcase for outstanding regional contemporary art focuses on the emerging North Carolina artist’s intriguing three-dimensional art. Farnsworth’s hand-carved figurative sculptures encapsulate the artist’s interests in character, story, craft, mechanics, composition, empathy, and social commentary. Tues-Sat 11:00am-5:00pm, Thurs 11:00am-8:00pm, Sun noon-5:00pm; Admission charged; Huntsville Museum of Art, 300 Church St; (256) 535-4350; Monday, July 4 – Monday, August 8 (Mondays Only) Concerts in the Park The concert series, presented by Arts Huntsville and the City of Huntsville’s Department of Parks and Recreation, showcases a mix of musical genres from rock and roll, pop, and top-40 to swing, country, bluegrass, Celtic, and jazz. Leashed pets are welcome. 6:30pm-8:00pm; Free; Huntsville Museum of Art outdoor stage at Big Spring Park; (256) 519-2787; Friday, July 8 – Sunday, July 10 Smoke on the Mountain Smoke on the Mountain tells the story of a Saturday Night Gospel Sing at a country church in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1938. The show features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family. Though they try to appear perfect in the eyes of a congregation who wants to be inspired by their songs, one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true—and hilariously imperfect—natures. Fri and Sat 7:00pm and Sun 2:30pm; Admission charged; Renaissance Theatre Alpha Stage, 1214 Meridian St; (256) 536-3434; Friday, July 8 and Friday, August 12 Friday Night Art Walk Over 40 artists offering everything from photography to screen printing to bow ties in the pleasant atmosphere of historic downtown Huntsville. Enjoy live music on the Square, grab a drink, or stay for dinner at one of several spots throughout the district.

5:00pm-8:00pm; Free; Downtown Huntsville Square; Friday, July 8 and Friday, August 12 Movies in the Park Historic Huntsville Foundation presents three familyfriendly movies on the Big Screen in Big Spring Park East at sundown. Local food vendors will provide delicious treats, and fun activities will be available for kids of all ages. 6:00pm-10:00pm; Free; 200 Church St; (256) 508-5372; Saturday, July 9 and Saturday, August 13 Belle Chevre Saturday Suppers Saturday Suppers include a five-course prix fixe menu inspired by fresh, local ingredients, including Belle Chevre’s fine artisanal goat cheeses made right here in Alabama. These meals will be prepared by award-winning cookbook author and Belle Chevre Chief Cheese, Tasia Malakasis, and Chef de Cuisine Rick Vonk. First seating 5:30pm, second seating 7:30pm; Admission charged, reservations required; 18849 Upper Fort Hampton Rd, Elkmont; (256) 732-4801; Friday, July 15 – Sunday, July 17 and Thursday, July 21 – Saturday, July 23 Neil Simon’s Rumors At a large, tastefully appointed Sneden’s Landing townhouse, the Deputy Mayor of New York has just shot himself. Though only a flesh wound, four couples are about to experience a severe attack of farce. Gathering for their tenth wedding anniversary, the host lies bleeding in the other room and his wife is nowhere in sight. His lawyer Ken and wife Chris must get “the story” straight before the other guests arrive. As the confusions and miscommunications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcical hilarity. Von Braun Playhouse; (256) 536-0807; For show times and tickets, visit Saturday, August 27 LIT: Light+Innovation+Technology For one night only, digital art projections, colorful light, and environmental design will transform all four sides of the Downtown Square into a living work of art. This juried festival celebrates the uniqueness of Huntsville through the fusion of light, innovation, and technology. 7:00pm10:00pm; Free; Downtown Huntsville; (256) 519-2787;

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cryin’ out loud » Sara Wright Covington If you are familiar with this column, you’ve likely figured out that on more than one occasion, these lists make it to print here, which makes me a little bit like a literary Taylor Swift, who has become known for penning her serial break-up sagas by song.

WORDS TO THE WISE… My editors have been warned that I don’t have much of a filter these days, so each time a new issue makes it to print and I see my column there, I take it as a sign they haven’t fired me yet. Consider yourself warned as well, and just know that I’ve been a little irritable lately. Pregnancy can do that to a girl. As a writer and a devoted note-taker of irony, I tend to keep lists of things people say that strike me as particularly audacious or, in some cases, incredibly asinine. If you are familiar with this column, you’ve likely figured out that on more than one occasion, these lists make it to print here, which makes me a little bit like a literary Taylor Swift, who has become known for penning her serial break-up sagas by song. Before I launch into my tirade, let me state this: pregnancy is a gift. For a woman, I firmly believe that one of life’s greatest experiences is growing a tiny pod in your belly, and feeling that little thing kick, and move, and even hiccup as it grows over the months. But for every bit of pregnancy’s beauty, sacredness, and mysticism, it’s also uncomfortable, ugly, and awkward. Entire blogs, websites, essays, and social media sites have been devoted to pregnancy, and most every one of them feature some type of “don’t say this or that to a pregnant woman if you want to live” type advice at some point. And I freely admit, I have even said/asked a few of these myself. But this is my third baby, and I feel I’ve built up a stockpile of things people ask and say that just don’t cotton to us ladies with child very well. Disclaimer before you go any farther: please remember, my hypothetical responses to the below statements/questions are mostly/probably in jest. And IF you happen to be a close associate, friend, family member, or spouse of mine who has said any of these things, I DO still love you, but no one is exempt from the wrath of a pregnant lady. And really, you should know better. Here’s my list: Wow! You look like you are about to pop! I’m not actually! I have another two months to go. But thanks for noticing that these extra 20 pounds I’m carrying around aren’t stopping traffic or anything!

So have you heard of the Zika virus? I saw on the news that pregnant women should completely avoid mosquito infested areas. Zika virus? I’ve never heard of that! It’s a good thing I live in Alabama and am due in the middle of July so there’s, like, zero chance of being around any mosquitos! No, seriously, I’ve ordered a full-body mosquito suit off that I’m planning to wear on the one occasion I leave my house this summer to venture into the outdoors so I can get in the car to go to the hospital to give birth. So you are having another girl? Are you super disappointed? Yes. We will probably just leave her at the hospital. Ha, that’s funny, Sara. But really, doesn’t your husband want a boy to carry on his name? Yes, it’s difficult to accept here in Communist China circa 1985 that we are going to be two over our household child limit, with no boys to even make it worthwhile. Still, don’t y’all want to try for a boy? Ok, we’re done here. So when do you think you will go into labor? Seriously? Little girls are just so high-maintenance. So are a lot of adults I know. Bless your heart. You look absolutely miserable. And you are definitely starting to waddle. Um, thank you? You really should try to work out in pregnancy. It will make delivery easier and you will lose weight faster after pregnancy. Thanks. I have two other kids under the age of four, so that’s my cardio. I’m also planning to breastfeed, which is also none of your business, and that burns an additional 500 calories a day postpartum. So, when you are jogging in place at home before bed, staring at your FitBit and attempting to hit your daily step goal, I will likely be eating ice cream while hooked up to a breast pump, milking the calorie burn for all it’s worth. Pun intended. Oh, I’m sorry, that grosses you out? Well, you brought it up.

Even though I’m a total stranger, can I touch your stomach? Oh, wait, I’m already reaching in before you even have a chance to answer me. Don’t you already have two kids? Did you do this on purpose? Yes! I guess my husband and I are just crazy irresponsible like that! So will you call me when you are in labor so I can sit in the waiting room and periodically stick my head in your room to check on your progress? No. Are you having a gender reveal party?! No. I stopped at two kids because I didn’t want to have to deal with the middle-child syndrome that happens with three. Yeah, I don’t know what we are thinking. Those middle children are the real dregs of society. How in the world are you going to take care of three small children? No idea. I guess we will just lock them all in a padded room with no light sockets or sharp edges and hope for the best. Didn’t you tell me that you are building a house right now? How are you going to move with a newborn baby? Are you insane? Have we met? Haven’t we already established that I’m completely bat-bleeping crazy? Ha Ha, really, I’m just not going to move. The new owners of our house are going to let me live with them until the baby is a year old and I can resume a normal functioning lifestyle that would allow me to physically relocate. I can’t believe you are having another baby at 36. Yeah, when you get pregnant at 36, they automatically stamp your forehead with the letters AMA, which stand for Advanced Maternal Age. I’m required to graze in a separate pasture from the rest of the pregnant cattle. I mean, the risks go way up once you hit 35 though, don’t they? Aren’t you worried about that? So worried that I actually chose to do this on purpose.

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Debbie’s Big Little Idea TEXT BY



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WANT A BOOK? TAKE A BOOK! WANT TO SHARE A BOOK? LEAVE A BOOK! What could be simpler? Or, for Huntsville resident and Tiny Library owner Debbie Snow, more gratifying? Snow’s little library, one of about halfa-dozen in the Huntsville area, is open to friends, neighbors, and word-loving passersby—including Snow’s neighbor and avid reader, Ava Barnes, pictured here.

Ava Barnes

Debbie Snow (right) and her father, Guy McClure, Sr.

The idea behind little libraries is simple. Homeowners build or buy a mailbox-sized library, fill it with a dozen or so of their favorite tomes, register at, and wait for the magic to begin. “It’s a very rewarding experience, especially when I see kids using it,” Snow says. “Even if people don’t stop, they always smile. For me, that’s the greatest pleasure.” The books for grown-ups come from Snow’s collection or anonymous donations from neighbors. Snow buys her children’s books at Friends of the Library book sales. “It’s a way of supporting big libraries and small ones,” Snow says. Less a library, more of a book exchange, the little library movement inspires neighborhood connections by uniting book lovers worldwide in a mutual love of literature. For more information about the little library movement, a map of little library locations, or to buy your own little library, visit

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Above: Seated (L-R): Maria Caprio, Millie Steed, Olivia Costanza, Elise Greco, Ann Christian Brown; Standing (L-R): Patton Park, Elizabeth Jones, Peyton Mickle, Caroline Curran, Bailey Gardner, Kate Griffin

Above: Seated (L-R): Susanne McCrary, Bailey Bentley, Mandy Kate Malone, Mary Mac Hardin; Standing (L-R): Hannah Splawn, Mary Charles Stewart, Michelle Caudle, Lily Hendrix, Katy Shoemaker, Sarah Abbott Martinson © Mark Yeager

Right: Seated (L-R): Tindall Morring, Emily Evans, Megan Smith, Julianna Kendall, Abby Knowling; Standing (L-R): Lauren Neighbors, Hattie Crosby, Maddie Kofskey, Hannah Martz, Kate Noble Hall, Caroline Wilson

Above: 2016 HSO Debutante Announcement may ,  · huntsville country club

Below: 2016 Crescen-Dough Auction “Firefly Fanfare” april ,  · von braun center north hall

Dr. Rob and Linda Akenhead Nancy and Skipper Colin

John Malone and Clare Grisham Dr. Heather James and Mark Smith

John and Courtney Allen Drs. Lindsay and Matt Limbaugh * Names for photos are provided by the organization or business featured.

Jennifer Crozier, Sarah Hubbard, and Donna Rush

Dr. Ben and Debbie Washburn © VXx

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TRADITION WITH A TWIST text by sara wright covington » photos by patrick hood

When Decatur-based interior designer Miranda Alexander was hired to do a home makeover for a young couple and their six children, she knew the task would have its challenges. Built just over a decade ago, the European style home needed to be beautiful, practical, and, most of all, very cozy. Family was also a focal point for the redesign, and Alexander worked to incorporate meaningful objects into everyday, functional living. “The dining room table and chairs were family heirlooms, so they were very special,” says Alexander. “But they are also a young family, so we wanted to put a twist on things.” Alexander used two chandeliers in the large room above the table, metal chests for storage and display, custom wool rugs to create warmth, and a blue grasscloth wallpaper to add texture to the walls. Instead of a traditional china cabinet, Alexander chose a distressed cabinet to create a more casual look instead of hiding the family china behind a traditional cabinet. “It’s a mix of the old with the more contemporary,” says Alexander. “Everything is also very functional.” Alexander used all indoor/outdoor fabrics, which she says makes them indestructible and, therefore, very kid-friendly. All of the home’s doors,

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Exposed beams and reclaimed wood help to create the feel of an old home, while cool blue hues and white trim give the home a light, airy feel perfect for everyday living. Facing page: Twin chandeliers flank the family’s heirloom table and chairs, giving the dining room a fresh twist.

floors, ceilings, and exposed beams are reclaimed wood to create the feeling of an old house, perfect for a growing family to make their own history. “The client just wanted everything to look like it had been there forever. So it’s very homey, just like an old house even though it’s not. It was one of the most gratifying projects I’ve ever worked on.”

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Alexander helped redecorate the couple’s twin daughters’ bedroom as a special Christmas gift. Keeping form and function in mind, Alexander designed a cheery, livable space for the young ladies.

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GREEN ROOM text by roy hall » photos by patrick hood

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Facing page: The soothing sound of water muffles the clamor of the city, creating a sense of serenity for the summer house beyond. Above: The lush lawn behind Mike and Emily Reiney’s Twickenham-district home offers a verdant setting for many charitable functions and family gettogethers.


“The bones were there,” Eddie Ray says of the lawn he reclaimed from disrepair many years ago. The English garden behind the stately Twickenhamdistrict home had been left to its own devices when new homeowners enlisted The Greenery’s help in returning it to its former glory. Ray’s team waited for winter to begin the process of chopping away at the remnants of a garden run amok. With nature tamed, design work began.

A lush, rectangular lawn is situated perpendicular to the home’s back door and runs past a water feature incorporated into the landscape to look like it’s been there all along. “Water is so important,” Ray says. “To be able to stand on the back porch, look down the central lawn, and hear the sound of water; it pulls you on to the summer house.” Positioned at the rear of the garden, the summer house had also fallen into disrepair. Ray and his crew painstakingly dismantled and re-built the hardscape, designed by Huntsville landscaping legend Bill Nance, preserving the history and integrity of the structure.

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“To be able to stand on the back porch, look down the central lawn, and hear the sound of water; it pulls you on to the summer house.” Eddie Ray, Landscape Designer

Hardscape, like the bench and pavers here, lend texture and visual interest to the natural surroundings.

Facing page, clockwise from left: A cozy nook on the Reiney’s back porch is a tempting alternative to eating indoors; Landscape designer Ray chose peonies, roses, butterfly bushes, azaleas, and hydrangeas for his client’s garden; A guest house adjacent to the garden includes a kitchen for outdoor entertaining; Water is an essential element in all of Ray’s designs.

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GREEN ROOM “Gardens are more than just plants,” Ray insists. “Structures are important, too.” An outdoor edifice recalls interiors, and in doing so, helps bring the inside out and the outside in. Mike and Emily Reiney are the home’s current owners. Emily hosts many charitable functions, and the formalbut-welcoming garden provides a verdant location for dinner parties and galas during the warm months. Ray maintains the gardens year round, but each spring he returns for fresh plantings. “People stop every year while we’re planting. Last year, we went bold with yellow and orange tulips. We got so many calls.” This year, it will be pinks, purples, and whites. “It looks welcoming,” Ray says, “like a person’s garden, not commercial. I think that’s what people enjoy.”

Right: A host of blooms in delicate shades of silver, pinks, and purple line the fence in front of the Reiney home.

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The summer house at the rear of John and Flo Stallworth’s garden creates a sense of privacy and seclusion, with no hint of the housing development a mere 100 yards beyond.

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text by roy hall » photos by patrick hood

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Flo Stallworth grew up growing things. Her fascination with nature, which began on her father’s farm, eventually led the self-described “country girl” away from vegetables and toward gardens.

“My father once said, ‘I don’t understand why you spend all your time growing things you can’t eat,’” Flo says, laughing. The landscaping at Flo and husband John’s Athens home purchased several years ago did little to inspire Flo, but she trudged along for a while, on her own, dabbling with shrubs here and plantings there. Then, while visiting a friend in downtown Huntsville, she came across the work of landscape architects Bill Nash and The Greenery’s Eddie Ray. It was love at first sight. The process of designing a new garden begins with a series of questions, according to Ray. “Do you do a lot of outdoor entertaining?” “Do you enjoy dining outside?” “Do you spend a lot of time in your garden?”

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Facing page: A quiet space for reading or reflection is tucked among the blooms at the rear of the property. This page: A wooden bridge stretches over a dry bed; Annabelle hydrangeas and variegated monkey grass occupy the foreground.

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Facing page, clockwise from left: The gated walkway, lined in monkey grass, leads to the Stallworths’ garden; Statuary of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, is situated just beyond the garden gate; A friendly troll greets guests and grandchildren as they cross the bridge; Blue hydrangeas in full bloom fill beds to bursting in the summer. During the spring, “It’s all about the azaleas,” Ray says. Above: The swing, one of many secluded spots throughout the Stallworths’ garden, is a perfect spot to spend a tranquil afternoon. Right: “The water feature was already there—sort of,” Ray says, of a stream that ran down one side of the garden and disappeared. Ray built up the stream to make it look more natural and redirected it into a reflecting pool at the base.

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To each question, the Stallworths responded with an enthusiastic Yes. Ray positioned a covered structure with full-functioning kitchen and dining and sitting areas near the main house, for easy access between indoor and outdoor entertaining. Nearby, a hot tub, unobtrusively camouflaged as a water feature, represents a compromise between Flo, who wanted a place for the couple’s grandchildren to splash around in the summertime, and John, who wasn’t wild about the idea of backyard swimming pools. An expansive lawn runs the length of the property, extending the eyeline all the way from the home’s glassed rear atrium to a summer house at the back of the lawn. Sidewalks connect front and back, providing a connection between home and summer home as well as a bicycle racetrack.

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Facing page, top: The expansive central lawn hosts an annual celebrity dinner in conjunction with the John Stallworth Foundation Gold Tournament. The space was also the location for the Stallworths’ daughter’s wedding last year. Facing page, bottom: Knockout roses, selected for their disease-resistance and vivid color, beckon beyond the summer house. Left: The soothing sounds of the hot tub, cleverly disguised as a water feature, can be heard from the master suite. Below: Outdoor entertaining at its finest: a covered structure contains a full-functioning kitchen and living and dining areas.

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“Our grandchildren all learn to ride their bikes on the sidewalk,” Stallworth says. They also set up nets and play volleyball on the main lawn. “And it’s a great garden to play hide and seek, or find special things.” The Stallworths’ lush and inviting backyard also hosts a celebrity dinner party every June, part of the John Stallworth Golf Tournament. The weekend-long golf tournament, now in its 14th year, raises money for the foundation’s scholarship fund. Former Pittsburgh Steeler and co-owner of Madison Research Group, John Stallworth established the foundation in 1980. Since then, it has raised nearly half-a-million dollars in scholarships. If you’d like more information about the foundation or the annual golf tournament, visit

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Abstract sculpture protruding from the wall hints at the fusion of contemporary and classic in the garden beyond.

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SCULPTURE GARDEN text by roy hall » photos by patrick hood

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Those who can, do, so when Frank Nola, among the South’s most preeminent architects, moved into his 1835 Greek Revival home and discovered an overgrown, 1950s landscape surrounding a diagonally situated pool, it was to his own drawing board he turned for a solution to the problem of informality. “The backyard had outgrown the space,” Nola says of his Twickenham-district lawn. Even if tamed, the existing garden and its “tremendous variety of plants” would still lack the classical garden Nola believed matched the home’s stature.

“As an architect, I see a line of continuity between house and garden,” Nola says. The home’s shape, trims, columns, and other interior details recall ancient Greek and Roman motifs. The garden, built on the main axis connecting the street to the home’s front entrance, should be situated along that central axis. For direction, Nola drew on the Italian Renaissance. Renaissance design is an exercise in geometry as well as beauty; space is divided into rectangles, each of which is bisected by a cross, then subdivided again into more rectangles. “It’s a very classical planning idea, a way of bringing order to chaos.” The “ordinary looking” urn that once occupied the garden’s focal point seemed insubstantial, lacking the heft necessary to hold down the center of such a grand green space.

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Facing page: Korean and green velvet boxwood and one of the garden’s eight Natchez crepe myrtles provide a natural, sculptural presence behind artist Dasher’s imposing, central focal point. Symmetrical obelisks and urns and the gate’s Greek key design recall classical Greek motifs, which informed much of Nola’s design. In addition to boxwood and crepe myrtle, Nola’s garden features many variety of hydrangea and green velvet arborvitae.

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“I imagined something large and abstract,” Nola says of a piece he saw in his mind’s eye. Nola happened on a photo of just such a piece, created by Huntsville sculptor Glenn Dasher. Even though Dasher did not design his 1990s piece for the space it now occupies, the classically-influenced piece is in perfect harmony with the aesthetic of the surrounding garden. It’s difficult to imagine one without the other.

Above: Gravel walkways are positioned with geometric precision around the spectacular sculpture, created by Hunstville artist Glenn Dasher. Right: “Salve,” the Latin for welcome, greets garden visitors.

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With the help of architect Frank Nola and decorator Beverly Bragg, the Dorans designed an ideal entertaining space in an open, airy sunroom full of multiple seating areas and many of the couple’s interesting artifacts to discuss over cocktails.

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Gallery Tour text by sara wright covington photos by patrick hood

When Kerry and Tom Doran purchased their 1970s Federal style home in the heart of downtown Huntsville’s Twickenham district in 2011, they wanted to create a place that was ideal for entertaining and for displaying their extensive art collection. Architect Frank Nola worked with the couple to transform the home into the Dorans’ vision, which also included privacy and comfort for upstairs guests and long-term livability for Kerry and Tom downstairs. “The master was originally upstairs,” says Kerry. “We constructed a downstairs addition that included a rear foyer, utility room, butler’s pantry, dressing room, and master closets.” The existing downstairs was mostly all reconfigured; the dining room is now the kitchen, the kitchen is now the master bath, and what was formerly the twostory breakfast room is now the couple’s master bedroom. Interior designer Beverly Bragg helped the Dorans create a space where guests could be comfortable while enjoying

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Kerry Doran has traveled the world, and worked with Bragg to help choose colors and fabrics that would allow her artwork collection to be the focal point of the home, which includes an upper gallery hall with a barrel vault ceiling for showcasing her pieces.

outstanding views of the pool and garden, as well as the couple’s impressive art collection. “Beverly and I worked tirelessly on the cabinetry, paint and stain colors, trim, molding, flooring, electrical, stone, hardware, and plumbing,” says Kerry. “Beverly has an uncanny ability to read my mind and translate my wacky ideas. She is also able to call me out when I start chasing rabbits down holes!” The unique, 4,300-square-foot home also features a cedar shake roof, garden/sunroom with a bar and television, multiple seating areas, a guest house, and even an upper gallery hall with a barrel vault ceiling that is used for an art gallery. “I really have to give Kerry all the credit,” says Bragg. “She has traveled the world and picked out what she likes. My job has been to just help put it all together. She is a wonderful client to work with and her style continues to open my mind.” 

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Facing page, and above: An all-antler chandelier is the focal point of the couple’s kitchen. Bottom: Art from all over the world lines the walls of the Dorans’ winding staircase.

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Above: The couple’s master bedroom features an antique Chinoiserie screen as a headboard and a glass orb light fixture. Layers of textured linens make the space especially inviting. The master bath (below) features quartzite countertops with hammered silver sinks, two built-in shower seats, and custom wrought iron work as a transom above double glass shower doors. Below, right: Lucy the kitty is right at home in the master bedroom.

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old school » Text and Photos by Chris Paysinger

Road Tripping: A Challenge Today, it seems, we treat travel like a process, something with an end result, so we can crow about it at our next dinner party, replete with glamorous Instagram pics. But good travel is something more than climbing aboard a plane or counting the miles ’til the next interstate exit with clean bathrooms and a Cracker Barrel. That brand of travel washes out and levels the experience. Not to mention, every exit has a Cracker Barrel. The best travel is about movement and experience, something that is an act of discovery. But that kind of travel is elusive these days. We don’t take the time; we have deadlines; what if the crowd gets to The Lobster Roll before us and there is a line? So, this summer, let us revisit the lowly road trip. Road trips loom large in the popular imagination. They call to mind stretching out in the back of the family station wagon, eschewing the safety of seatbelts, listening to the Doobie Brothers on eight-track. But how many of us really take the time and do so today? Growing up, my family never took them, but I have since become enamored with the idea of climbing in a car and striking out with no discernible plan and searching out new people and places. College offered my first introduction to road tripping, usually with a concert as the destination. But my most memorable was a summertime jaunt through the Mississippi Delta with my best friend. Due to the active status of several statutes of limitations, and the fact that I don’t want to implicate my friend, a successful professional, in unsavory choices, let’s call him Strout (the name my grandmother has mistakenly used to refer to him for the last 30 years). Strout and I pursued this road trip in the way all great road trips should be: poorly planned and badly executed. We left North Alabama knowing our first stop would be in Tuscaloosa to see a friend’s band. For all of you folks who have spent time in T-town, it was 25-cent Red Dog beer night at the Tusk. Bad decision indeed. The next morning, bleary-eyed and reeking of cheap booze and cigarette smoke, we climbed into Strout’s truck and set off for the Delta. The day culminated in an interrogation by the scariest of Mississippi state troopers on suspicion of murder.

It seems we matched the description of some nefarious characters, though I imagine we looked and smelled far worse than they. Stout’s bloody shirt on the floorboard, the product of an unfortunatelytimed nose bleed, didn’t help. Mr. State Trooper admonished us to “get-the-hell-out-of-the-great-state-of-Mississippi,” which we promptly tried our dead-level best to do, heading north to Memphis, arriving in time to experience a Harley-Davidson rally. At the Black Diamond on Beale, we ducked onto the two remaining barstools and ordered beers. I’d spent the first part of the summer toiling for a landscaper while bravely fighting the genetic implications of male-pattern baldness and had taken clippers and shorn the last remaining brave follicles hanging on. A crusty old biker next to me wheeled, gazed at me harshly, and yelled, “What the hell happened to yer head!?” I stammered my explanation as a big grin spread under his gray goatee. He said the army had given him the same haircut in 1966 before shipping him off on an all-expenses paid senior trip to Vietnam. We became fast friends as he bought us cheap beers and unspooled his history for us. Today, I wonder if a trip like that would even be possible. In this age of Facebook searches and Yelp reviews, could one find a hidden patch of the South to experience something real in the way of culture? Everyone it seems these days is trying to plumb the depths of the South’s best, most obscure places. From blogs weighing in on the best BBQ to Twitter feeds expounding on the best places to see live music, there is no shortage of sources to plan outings. But how many of us are climbing into our cars on Saturday mornings setting off to find these places? Too often, and I am guilty of this also, we sit behind our screens, living life vicariously through those intrepid explorers who seek out and document those places with wonderful Instagram photo filters. As a North Alabama native, I believe this place offers a wonderful base from which to launch road trips. These days, my road trips tend to err on the side of striking out in the morning and returning in time

Today, I wonder if a trip like that would even be possible. In this age of Facebook searches and Yelp reviews, could one find a hidden patch of the South to experience something real in the way of culture? july/august  | | 

These days, most of my road trips are with my daughter. Even at age ten, Aves is a keen observer of the things that make riding backroads great. to sleep in my own bed. My neighbors are great road trippers, loading up the family for three to four week excursions. Though Missy will admit by the end of the trip that three boys in an RV is a test of her character and olfactory system’s limits. For years I too struck out, crisscrossing the South. Primarily I did so looking to experience the historical events and places I read about in my grandmother’s World Books many years before. Civil War battlefields in Virginia, forts in every locale, and grand old homes were the primary destinations. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I had the opportunity to explore Civil War battlefields with preeminent historians. I sat in Thomas Jefferson’s backyard at Monticello on July 4th and watched people become American citizens as tears streamed down their faces, and maybe mine too. But a few years ago, something happened that changed my road trip agendas. I was working on my master’s in History at UA, Huntsville. Dr. Johanna Shields, longtime professor of Southern History, charged us with writing a rather lengthy paper using only authentic, local sources. We all freaked out. There was wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. And, at first, very little research. I finally settled on a topic concerning Athens (my current home) in the Civil War. From the other side of her desk, she

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pronounced the project dead in the water, that there weren’t enough sources to put something remotely cogent together, but to carry on and that it had better be great or else. As I began to search, Athens’s Civil War past seemed to fall from the sky. I found reports from embedded journalists with Union soldiers who published wonderful articles for their hometown newspapers in Ohio, published music dedicated to pretty girls at the local female seminary, slave testimony and enlistment papers, and the diary of a large plantation owner struggling to come to terms with the New South. And I realized that for much of my life I had chased other people’s stories, while ignorantly driving past my own. These days, most of my road trips are with my daughter. Even at age ten, Aves is a keen observer of the things that make riding backroads great. We frequently listen to North Alabama native Jason Isbell while we drive, stop at mom-and-pop shops, duck off the road to read historic markers, and find the best lunch dives. (Just last week we had fantastic tacos and tamales from an authentic Mexican restaurant/mostly butcher shop.) And we do it exclusively from North Alabama. As a history guy, it is a way for me to conjure ghosts of the past. But it’s also a way to spend time with Aves, and make sure she isn’t living life behind a screen. So, I have a challenge for you. I want y’all to document your North Alabama travels this summer and suggest a few for us. From the Shoals, to Huntsville, to Scottsboro, let us know who has the best BBQ, where to catch the best local music, your favorite hidden history, and great old homes. Be sure to tag us using the hashtag #reconstructionsouthtravels so others can find North Alabama’s best people and places. And follow Aves and me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at Reconstruction South as we travel this beautiful region. We look forward to seeing where you lead us. Now, fill up the tank, pop in some great North Alabama music, and go.

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by sara wright covington » photos by patrick hood

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“As long as you’ve got a little land, you can feed yourself,” says Heidi Tilenious, Lauderdale County Coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), whose community garden located on Veterans Drive is on its way to full bloom as this issue goes to print. In a world where food is readily available through grocery stores, drivethrough windows, and even delivery to our doorsteps, it’s easy to forget there was a time when everyone lived off the land. Our ancestors used weathered hands to dig in the dirt, sow the soil, and collect their crops. Those same ancestors valued staying physically active, being able to provide for themselves, and understanding what it meant to nurture something from its very inception to its end. The concept of community gardens— common pieces of land gardened by many individuals in a community—has been around since the late 1800s when economic recession made it necessary to use vacant areas of land for gardens to assist the poor and unemployed. The popularity of community gardens has ebbed and flowed over the years, through periods of war and peace and economic ups and downs. The last few years have seen a resurgence in community gardens as people turn to group gardening as a means of producing food as well as teaching work ethic, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and gardening education. North Alabama’s community gardens are thriving as citizens of all ages and abilities are showing up to share the fruits of their labor. The ACES garden on Florence’s Veterans Drive is just one of those North Alabama gardens. No’Ala took some time to tour a few others who are growing something

Above: Master Gardener John Norton helps to oversee the garden, working with both the novice and expert patrons of the garden.

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Regional Extension Agent Taylor Vandiver works in her own raised bed in the garden.

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much bigger than their harvest and offering it up for the greater good. Taylor Vandiver, Regional Extension Agent for Lauderdale County’s Extension System, knew when she graduated from Auburn University with both an undergraduate and master’s degree in horticulture that she wanted to use her education to teach and work with others for a worthy cause. Vandiver’s predecessor, Chris Becker, was the driving force behind Lauderdale County’s garden and spent two years securing funds, developing rules and criteria, and researching the project before it came to fruition. “This garden is a vehicle to what we do here at Extension,” says Vandiver. “We are here for education and to help the community with health, nutrition, money management, and improving their quality of life.” To qualify for one of ACES’ 40 individual raised beds, an individual must be a veteran, disabled, a senior citizen, of

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low income, or a person whose residence provides limited or no growing space. Master Gardener John Norton, who helps oversee the project, says the garden’s designers kept their users in mind as they planned the space, raising beds to avoid unnecessary bending and incorporating adequate space between rows to accommodate wheelchairs or crutches. “The older segment of our clients probably haven’t gardened for many years,” Norton says. “But they like being able to stay independent and active.”

GARDEN HARMONY For some, the draw of community gardens is primarily about fellowship. Lowe Mill’s community garden, located just south of its iconic water tower, doesn’t include the formalities of many of the larger community gardens. The atmosphere here, apropos of an artists’ facility, is more laid back, providing artists and patrons with a natural, serene space to relax during breaks, or with friends and family in the breezy, evening shade of the garden’s shed. Greg Israel and Mike Burgiel help maintain the garden, which is now thriving in its seventh year. “We really just wandered into it,” says Israel. We were interested in plants, and there was already a small flower garden there. We just came down and started helping.” Over the years, they have done much experimenting to see what grows best and what doesn’t. Crop decisions are made collectively, but tomatoes, okra, and peppers are mainstays. Chef Will, whose popular food truck is based at Lowe Mill, gets a lot of their produce, while much of it is harvested and then placed on a table inside Lowe Mill and distributed using the honor system. They also take excess produce to the Greene Street Market in downtown Huntsville. Over the years in the garden, various artifacts from the mill’s past have surfaced, including old shoe molds, railroad spikes, and old pieces of glass and pottery from Lowe Mill’s manufacturing days. Mike’s wife Brenna, who helps with the garden, says although they would eventually like to expand, you don’t need very much space to grow a whole lot of food. And while the food is an awesome benefit of the communal space, the ultimate purpose is staying connected to each other. “This is the living room of Lowe Mill,” she says. “The artists come here to decompress, and this is where we spend time together as an informal family. It’s a nature preserve out here. We see all kinds of wildlife and at the end of the day, we bring out blankets and our dogs and our kids and just enjoy it. It’s our little oasis in the middle of the city.”

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Orientations, held at the beginning of each planting season, explain garden rules and policies. Herbicides are not allowed; neither are some crops, such as corn, sweet potatoes, and squash, which take up too much space or grow to heights that can block sunlight from other beds. No one is allowed to adjust the irrigation system, and gardeners are required to tend to their beds at least once a week. The majority of the crops produced are tomatoes, peas, beans, eggplant, okra, peppers, radishes, melons, as well as many varieties of flowers and herbs. Each year, different groups donate seeds and fertilizer. Its first year alone, the garden yielded over 2,100 pounds of produce during the summer growing season, which would translate to thousands of dollars worth of food in retail. “Cooperation from clients was amazing the first year,” says Norton. “We put a weigh station out there to weigh and record the produce, and we didn’t know if it would be used or not. But the biggest surprise with the garden is that we never considered there would be so much food there would be waste.” About a third of the surplus is donated, with the majority going to the local homeless shelter and The Help Center, which is run by several community churches. In addition to donating surplus food, ACES also provides nutrition education and offers cooking demonstrations at The Help Center. “It just speaks to the real mission of what we do,” says Tinenious. “No food is left to rot. It’s all harvested and donated. There is so much cooperation, and we have people who sponsor rehabilitation. Gardening is therapeutic. If you are angry about something, you can get out there and pull weeds.” Madison County also boasts several community gardens, and like the ACES garden of Florence, most of them have a philanthropic mission at the heart of their harvest. Nonprofit organization CASA (Care Assurance System for

Garden Services Coordinator Shawn Escher works in the CASA garden of Madison County, which is one of Alabama’s oldest community gardens.

the Aging) of Madison County maintains one of Alabama’s oldest gardens, which has been providing for elderly and homebound citizens since 2001. The garden covers nearly three-quarters of an acre and averages about 5,300 pounds of produce each year. Shawn Escher has been the CASA’s Garden Services Coordinator for almost four years. Escher spends much of his time working with volunteers, including several regulars and many of the groups who come through to offer their efforts, including churches, college fraternities and sororities, and sports teams. “Depending on what experience they have, I assign different tasks,” says Escher. “I demonstrate for them and we just sort of wing it from there. Some groups are more skilled than others, but we get what we can, and thank everyone. If they come out here, it is their intention to help.” CASA’s garden serves approximately 300 clients in Madison County, delivering all of their efforts to the elderly and homebound. Their harvest includes peas and beans, fruit, potatoes, corn, okra, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and various other greens. In addition to the garden’s crop, CASA

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also has a gleaning program that averages an additional 4,500 pounds of produce each year. The concept of gleaning is borrowed from the Old Testament book of Ruth, in which the poor were allowed to gather what was left in the fields after the farmers had collected the harvest. CASA, along with other non-profit groups, meets at the Madison market on Saturdays where sellers at the market donate leftover produce that won’t make it to the next market. “We are not in any way, shape, or form feeding these people, but they get five to seven deliveries per year, ranking from one to three bags,” says Escher. “I just appreciate the mission itself. The most rewarding volunteer opportunity we have is to deliver the produce to our clients and to know we are helping our seniors to age comfortably at home.” In addition to providing food for those who are of limited means and abilities, community gardens like CASA and the ACES garden offer opportunities for fellowship and personal growth that keep people coming back each year. Master

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Gardener John Norton says one of the most rewarding things about his job is teaching others and watching their progress. “I love the look on people’s faces when they actually realize they have grown something they can eat,” says Norton. “I don’t know these people before the program, but I know they are all smiles here. It’s just a very good vibe.” Waiting lists for community garden space is typical, as those who start planting often stay. As produce yields continue to grow, North Alabamians can likely expect to see more and more garden spaces pop up in their communities. For some, it’s about that final yield and sharing the fruits of their labor, but for many, it’s their personal growth that keeps them returning to the gardens. “I love seeing the collaboration between people and their beds,” says Taylor Vandiver. “They talk, and they make and can food together, and they form relationships. Gardening is social and therapeutic.”

To find out how you can become more involved with one of the community gardens near you or to schedule a tour, see the below contact information for the gardens featured in this piece. Garden hours vary by location, and an appointment may be necessary.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Lauderdale County Extension Office 802 Veterans Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-766-6223 email:

CASA of Madison County 701 Andrew Jackson Way Huntsville, AL 35801 256-533-7775 email:

Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Community Garden 2211 Seminole Drive, SW Huntsville, AL 35805 256-533-0399 email:

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Artist in Residence by sara wright covington » photos by patrick hood

English-born artist and yoga aficionado Tiril Benton perches comfortably on a sofa in the glassed-in side porch of her south Huntsville home. She is completely at ease, even while maintaining the perfect posture that years of yoga practice have made second nature. Benton’s home is equally effortlessly chic and comfortable. And although no particular theme or decorative style emerges, it all just works. There are stacks of books—from volumes of T.S. Eliot to childhood school readers; framed maps from all over the world; and sculptures of Tiril as a little girl. There are comfortable, inviting nooks for hiding away with a book all over the house, three different tables for dining or just having coffee, and multiple outdoor seating areas on “ship”—the Bentons’ nickname for the wraparound porch whose metal railing calls to mind a boat’s deck. Snapshots of family, friends, and travel line the walls, along with countless art canvases of all shapes and sizes. “This house is my largest canvas,” she says. “When I first came to the states, I was taken by the fact that when you walk into a house, everything matched. In England, people don’t have as much money, and we tend to make houses out of what we already have.”

Facing page: Artist and yoga aficionado Tiril Benton at home in her studio.

Benton bristles a bit when asked to define her style. She tells me that the concept of style and fashion are, to her mind, intangible, ephemeral. Although she is hesitant to lay claim to any one, authenticity seems to define her aesthetic. “I wouldn’t dream of going into a store and buying something just to fill space,” Benton says. “Everything in my home has been given or bought with love. That’s why style to me is redundant. A home is a physical manifestation of who you are.”

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Artist in Residence Tiril and her husband Bob have spent nearly 20 years carefully crafting the history that lines the walls of their home. When I ask her to tell me more about that history, she graciously accepts, smiling and easing back just a bit into her sofa. She tells a story of a young girl from England who followed divine guidance across an ocean, to Alabama, where she leads an inspiring life as a supremely talented artist, teacher, wife, and mother. Born and educated in London, Benton spent much of her childhood traveling and lived in Norway, South Africa, and the Middle East before settling in Huntsville with her husband. She believes her father’s unexpected death when she was only 11 is what initially drew her to art. “I had always loved art as a child,” she says. “We were always surrounded and influenced by it. It was when my father died that I began drawing a lot.” Around this time, Benton also began her lifelong practice of yoga and embarked on a study of the science of kinesiology. She began teaching yoga at 18 as a last-minute fill-in for a sick yoga teacher; she never stopped. “I’ve done everything from private training to aerobics,” she says. “I knew I wanted to help people feel better about themselves.” Benton believes yoga is a state of being and applies its tenants and principles to all aspects of her life. When her mother died in 2000 also unexpectedly, she used those same principles to help harness her grief action by painting, a talent Benton believes to be a gift from God. “Paintings began to manifest after my mother died,” she remembers. “I believe when people die they move into you in a way they never could when they were alive. In the beginning, it was so powerful. My brush wanted me to do one thing, and my head was saying I shouldn’t. Luckily, the brush won.” Benton believes in being completely led by her instincts, working primarily in oils and acrylics, sometimes painting at three in the morning if she’s feeling inspired. “The canvas is there, but I have no idea what is going to transpire,” she says. “I paint with my eyes closed and it just comes. I am a completely intuitive painter.” This courageous method of painting all goes back to how Benton believes we should live, trusting our instincts and allowing ourselves to be led by the heart. When she began painting, Benton worked in a tiny room off her kitchen, moving her canvases all over the house, one by

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One of Benton’s favorite sitting spaces is the family sunroom, which features glass walls and a vaulted ceiling. A huge advocate of feng shui, Benton says her spaces are constantly evolving, and she strays as far as she can from matching fabrics or themes.

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Artist in Residence

“This house is my largest canvas.”

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Artist in Residence

one, as she finished each one. “People would come over for dinner and look at the paintings and they felt and understood what I felt when I was painting them. There was so much power in the paintings; I knew I wanted to share them.” In 2007, Benton built an art studio onto their home. That same year, she started exhibiting her paintings in small galleries across Huntsville. She now has installations all over the country and the world, from England to New York City to Miami. Benton’s paintings are deeply personal—she rarely accepts a commission to paint for someone else unless she feels truly in tune with that person. And although many of her paintings are on view for the world to see, some are so deeply sacred and personal for the artist, she keeps them close by, away from public viewing.

Many of Benton’s own canvas creations line her walls, but countless other paintings and artifacts from all over the world fill the family’s home as well.

Benton’s philosophies on life, yoga, and painting are not only evident by looking at her canvas-covered walls, but in looking at the lives of her children and her role as a mother. She has three daughters, all very different and very creative. “I believe when a child is born, they are you,” she says. “The only way you can guide a child is through you. I see a lot of parents trying to mold their children. With my own children, the strongest line of guidance I’ve given them is to listen to their hearts.” She has instilled in her children to trust their instincts, to never let money or possessions define them, to be wary of the opinions of others, to take responsibility for the choices they make, and to never make the mistake of believing they are entitled to a pain-free life. “I applaud whatever it is they are being led to do,” she says. “They can’t learn unless they live it.”

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Artist in Residence

“The canvas is there, but I have no idea what is going to transpire. I paint with my eyes closed and it just comes. I am a completely intuitive painter.”

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Open through July 25

Tiril Benton has been a most gracious hostess, oering tea and coee more than once, walking me through her home, and patiently explaining the artifacts of her life. We wander from room to room, and she explains that the anti-open oor plan lifestyle allows her family the option of spending time together or alone any time they like. She admits that she rarely leaves the sanctuary of their home. When she isn’t painting or teaching private yoga classes, she gardens, embroiders, and reads. “Since I was a child, I’ve known that everything we need is within us,â€? she says. “The way that I am is completely intrinsic. I’ve always listened to my inner voice.â€? One of my ďŹ nal questions is to ask what advice she gives to anyone looking to be more in tune with themselves. She pauses for a moment to collect her thoughts before answering, a mannerism I’ve come to realize from just spending an hour with her that is as much a part of her nature as that perfect posture. “If there were a practical answer, it would be to practice yoga. But my real answer would be for people to understand everything you need is within. The only voice you should listen to is the voice that is silent. Sometimes simple can be the most diďŹƒcult thing for people.â€? Like her life, Benton believes her home is constantly changing, its space and energy a reection of her evolution as a teacher and artist. Home is truly where her heart is, and her creative dwelling seems to be an extension of her own soul—and they both seem to draw their inspiration from each other. “I am a yoga practitioner and a painter,â€? she says. “Painting teaches me to live, and that living teaches me to paint.â€?

Featured Exhibition May 14 through July 25 Explore the forces of energy and nature through a variety of activities, including feeling the vibrations and sounds of an earthquake! The exhibit also includes a working storm shelter and the Rocket Center’s new Magic PlanetŽ interactive, spherical display where guests p g g the globe g can see hurricanes in motion,, airplanes navigating and the Earth’s climate at work.



ARCHIMEDES’ EXHIBITION COMING 2016 AUGUST 6, 201 " " #"  #"   !  !  ! ! %  %   

 !   $  $  $  "    "     " "  "   !  !    $ This exhibition was created by Artisans of Florence - International. july/august ď™…ď™ƒď™„ď™‰ | | ď™Šď™Œ

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NUTT HOUSE by sara wright covington » photos by patrick hood

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The Nutts entrusted their close friend architect Frank Nola with designing their Blossomwood home, giving him free reign to create an open concept space ideal for the couple’s everyday living and their musical lifestyle. The home features an upstairs studio (page 85) where Dorrie can teach music lessons.

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hen Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Development Director Jerry Nutt and his musician wife Dorrie decided to build another home in the Blossomwood neighborhood where they had already lived for 30 years, they turned to longtime friend and architect Frank Nola to help them design a space for their

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active, but empty-nest lifestyle. The couple put their complete faith in their old friend, giving him little more than a small list of requirements to keep in mind when creating a house plan. “I just told him I liked lots of natural light,” says Dorrie. “I don’t ever want to have to turn on lights when I walk into a room. We also wanted most of our living area to be on the ground floor.”

The couple also worked with contractor William Lemaster and interior designer Margaret Ann Bibb to design a space ideal for both entertaining and music education, as the home features a private studio where Dorrie can teach music lessons.

Completed in 2014, the 3,200 square foot home fits right in with the Blossomwood neighborhood’s aesthetic. Visitors and drivers-by with a keen eye will also observe the home’s symmetry and scale bear a striking resemblance to Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation home Monticello, a favorite vacation spot of Jerry and Dorrie and their two grown sons. The resulting combination of comfort with neoclassical style is perfect harmony for this musical couple and their lifestyle.

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shopgirls » By Aissa Castillo and Lauren McCaul » Photos by Lauren Tomasella Carney [A] BRONZE STANDING CONTAINER WITH GREENERY ($52) [B] PETRIFIED WOOD SLICE ON STAND ($15) [C] STONE SERVING SLAB ($142) [D] WIRE STAND WITH AIR PLANTS ($35) BROOKS AND COLLIER (256) 534-2781







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[E] METAL FEATHER DISH ($17.99) INDIGO’S BOUTIQUE (256) 345-6348






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Pulmonologist DR. MADHURI PENUGONDA is now accepting new patients ages newborn to 18 years at



NORT H AL AB AM A CH ILD R E N’S SPE CIALI ST S 502 Governors Dr SW, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 533-0833

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bless their hearts » David Sims

There are parts of this trip that are both stunning and surreal. Mountains so high they take your breath away. Spooky rock formations that look as if they were salvaged from a Martian movie set.

OLD DOGS. NEW TRICKS. H Have you ever heard of the American Institute of Stress? What about the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory? Well the former compiles the latter, which is a 43-something list of some of life’s most stressful events that assigns a point value to each. If you receive 300 points or more, they say you have an 80 percent chance of a stress-induced major health breakdown. If you receive 150-300 points, you have a 50/50 chance of losing it, and so forth—on down to those with a relatively “low amount of life change,” which I can only assume applies to cats, who really don’t feel stress. Or anything for that matter. I scored a 149, but the list doesn’t include cross-country trips with a geriatric dog—through some of the most uninhabitable, WIFI-free parts of the United States—so I’m rounding my tally up to 150, which certainly qualifies me for some cupcakes, chicken soup, or even a few “bless your hearts.” So, why would I move across country with an old dog? W Well, bad segues aside, most of you already know that answer. A few years ago we visited a dear friend in Portland, Oregon, and fell madly in love (with Portland, not our dear friend). We made a pact to retire there in five years, and put into motion a very detailed plan to do so. Sell our house in the Shoals and rent a cool place downtown. Check. Bring on a younger, smarter partner. Check. Teach him all facets of the business and work with him for the next three years to prepare him for our departure. (Insert sound of needle dragging across a vinyl record here.) This is where Allen decided—on a whim—to apply for a major position with the Knight Cancer In Institute, part of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). Well, he got it, bless his heart. A And suddenly our five-year plan became a three-and-a-half-year plan. Or something like that. Fa Fast-forward to April of this year, when Allen leaves for Portland and his new life while I finish up th the May/June issue of the magazine, pack up 20 years of my (old) life in the Shoals, and prepare for a four-day, cross-country trip to our new home. I’m not a fan of road trips. Rather, I’m not enamored with the idea of seeing the country—slowly, leis leisurely, or otherwise—via a car—unless that car is an airplane cabin, chugging along at 500 miles per hour. As an aside, I am eagerly awaiting the further testing of that newfangled invention that shoots you cross-country via a vacuum tube—just like a bank deposit. If it weren’t for our precious, aforementioned old dog, we would have just sold the car and flown. But our sweet, little love nugget is a tad too “substantial of stature” to cram (place) under the seat in front of me, so we had to drive. The Trip Wednesday, May 25 The packers arrived and packed everything but the bed, so I could sleep in the apartment one last time. They even left me with an empty box and a roll of tape so I could pack the sheets the next morning. Matthew the Min Pin knew something was up, and he took this opportunity to punish me with an evening of him staring at me with disdain and contempt.

Thursday, May 26 The movers arrived, loaded the boxes, wrapped the furniture in blankets, packed the large Mayflower truck, and drove away into the sunset. I was to pick up Allen at the Huntsville airport at around 7:30 p.m. and then we were supposed to make our way to Nashville, have a nice dinner, and begin our big adventure early Friday morning. Then everything went South, when everything was supposed to go West. Ultimately, flights were delayed many hours and I got to spend an extra evening in the Shoals. I could have called some friends to keep me company, but I had said so many good-byes—so many ny times—that most people kept thinking I was back for a visit when, in reality, I had d never left. Friday, May 27 (Florence to Huntsville to pick up Allen at airport hotel; Huntsville to Kansas City, Missouri) This was the last day I drove. It’s not that I didn’t offer; in fact, I had spent weeks mentally preparing myself for driving at least the first portion of the day, but Allen had been away from his car for two months and they missed each other. Yes, I’m sticking to this version of the story. Stop rolling your eyes. It’s at this point in the story where I should tell you that I probably won’t be eating another McDonald’s sausage and egg burrito, despite it being a very car-friendly food, ever again. If you can call it food. Nashville to Kansas City was not that bad, really. We were still officially in thee South, and the surroundings weree very familiar to me. My olderr brother and his family live just out-side Kansas City, and we thought it would be a great spot to stop for the night. You know, see some familiar faces. But my brother “had previous plans,” so we decided to drive past Missouri into Kansas. To Topeka. (If you’re a proud resident of Kansas, you should skip on to “Sunday, May 29.”) Topeka is full of black and white silent movie sadness. Dorothy Gale certainly had the right idea. I too would have summoned a tornado just to get a little color back in my life. Saturday, May 28 (Topeka to Laramie, Wyoming) Folks, Kansas never ends. And it’s flat. And there are no people to speak of. It’s as if the highway is an airport moving sidewalk and you’re rushing to catch a flight in Colorado. The countryside, however, is beautiful, and it is at this point when the term “big sky” starts to mean some-

thing special. And, when you can’t go out to eat because hotel regulations prohibit you from leaving your dog alone in the room, that grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli takeout from Applebee’s becomes something special as well. Sunday, May 29 (Laramie to Boise, Idaho) There are parts of this trip that are both stunning and surreal. Mountains so high they take your breath away. Spooky rock formations that look as if they were salvaged from a Martian movie set. And skies that envelop you in a dome of deep blue, dotted with hundreds of puff y clouds. some of the most awe-inspiring scenery I have Utah had som even seen. And there was an Applebee’s directly across the street from our Hampton Inn. What a great country we live in. Monday, May 30 (Laramie to Portland, Oregon) On our way out of Idaho, and just before Oregon, the terrain shifted to a desolate desert. Mix in the fact that we had no cell service (again), and I began to imagine drags ging my blistering body across hot asphalt g during the day and sheltering myself from d the t blistering cold of night, all while a hungry g Min Pin eyed my fluff y dad bod from across our d makeshift encampment. m But B things change quickly in these parts, and as we crossed a mountain range into Pendleton, Oregon (should have bought some blankets!), our world turned lush and green. Soon, we were following the Columbia River into the area called the Gorge, instantly knew we had made the and we insta right decision. This was truly as beautiful as it is sold. And I was excited to be in this paradise. Today, as I continue to unearth T myself from a sea of cardboard boxes, m I look forward to the last chapter of our lives—knowing that I have left one truly l special place for another. I’m lucky I get s to keep designing this special magazine. I’m even luckier that I get to keep one hand in the Tennessee River while I test the waters out here. And now, after driving across country for the first time in my adult life, I have realized something momentous. Maybe you really can teach an old dog some new tricks.

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food for thought » Sarah Gaede

EASY AS PIE Pie crust is not my gift, even though I’m better at pie crust than fried chicken. I can’t fry chicken no matter what method I try, despite spending three solid weeks at Rich’s Cooking School in Atlanta in the 1970s doing nothing but frying chicken. My husband, who cleans up after me, has forbidden me to experiment ever again, although nothing could make a worse mess than the time my fig preserves exploded all over the cooktop and fused with every surface they touched. I had to clean that up myself. I may not have even told him about that particul particular incident. My mother wasn’t a great baker, but she could make good biscuit biscuits (although I think mine are better, but it may be the White Lily flour); Aunt Nellie’s pound cake, which my middle sister requires my youngest especially apple pie. I’ve never been able sister make for her birthday every year; and wonderful pies, es to duplicate that remembered taste and texture. and delicious, is that she used hot water. The weird thing about Mama’s crust, which was flaky an Those of you who have moved beyond Pillsbury All-Ready Crust (not that there is a single All-R thing wrong with that) know that the secret to pie crust is cold fat—butter, lard, and/or Crisco—and ice water. I had no idea how Mama learned to make crust that way until I looked through her old cookbooks. In The Victory Vict Binding of the American Woman’s Cookbook, Wartime Edition from 1943, I foun found a recipe for hot water pastry—even though the heading of the third paragraph in the Pastry and Meringues chapter reads: Everything Must Be Cold. Later on, tthe author advises, “Be swift and deft”— still good advice for pastry making, sinc since overworking the gluten in the flour makes pastry tough. After struggling for years with various “foolproof ” crust recipes, I finally settled on Cooks Illustrate Illustrated’s pie crust with vodka, which I can accomplish if the stars are aligne aligned correctly and my chi is balanced. But there’s a new crust in town, and an it’s a life-changer—melted butter pie crust. Mama was onto something! Lynn Rosetta Casper and David some Leibowitz are great adv advocates of this method. David’s recipe involves browning the butter in the oven—you can Google it. I like Lynn Rosetta Casper’s better—it’s simpler and safer, burning yourself on the hot Pyrex bowl with less risk of bu in which you have hav melted the butter. This crust is ideal for tarts (pies, not saucy women), which I prefer to are more elegant, but it also makes pies because they t enough to line a 9-inch pie plate. You can order a removable-bottom tart pan on Amazon 9-inch re around ten dollars. for ar

Melted Butter Pie Crust • • • •

1 1/2 cups (about 6 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon table salt 11 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, preferably higher-fat European butter

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Melt butter in a well-covered bowl or large glass measuring cup in the microwave (watching very, very carefully because you don’t want to have to clean up exploded butter from the entire interior) or a small pot on the stove, which I know from bitter experience is the better choice. Slowly drizzle the butter into the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or fork until all the flour is absorbed and the mixture holds together. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate. Be sure to reserve a walnut-sized piece of raw dough in case you have to patch. Crimp the edges if you like. Line the crust with a circle of aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or 1 pound dried beans (you can’t eat them afterwards, but they keep in a Mason jar as pie weights for years). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, patch any cracks if necessary, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Lemon-Lime Tart • • • • • • • •

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 4 large egg yolks Grated zest of 2 limes and 1 lemon 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 prebaked tart crust (okay if it’s still warm) 1 cup whipping cream 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk condensed milk, yolks, zest, and juice until smooth. Pour into prebaked crust and bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely and refrigerate. Whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over filling before serving. Note: If you are feeling ambitious, you can use the leftover egg whites to make meringue, and top the pie with it before you pop it in the oven. Bake until tips of meringue swirls are golden.

White Chocolate Cherry Cheese Pie • 1/2 cup sugar • 2 teaspoons arrowroot (in the spice section at Publix) • 1 (14.5-ounce) can red tart cherries, drained and juice reserved • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract, optional • 1 3.5-ounce to 4-ounce bar white chocolate, broken in small pieces • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened • 1/4 cup sour cream • 1 prebaked tart or pie crust, cooled In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, arrowroot, and reserved cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cherries and almond extract. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring constantly—safer than microwaving. White chocolate seizes up if you look at it wrong. Cool. Beat the cream cheese in a mixer on high speed until smooth and light, about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate all at once and beat for 1 minute. Add the sour cream and beat until well blended. Pour the white chocolate filling into the pie shell and smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spread the cherry topping evenly over the filling. Refrigerate until set.

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98 Âť

parting shot Âť Patrick Hood

UP, UP, AND AWAY: Hot air balloons hover above Athens during the annual Memorial Day Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic.

huntsville symphony orchestra presents its 2016-2017 season

Gregory Vajda, Music Director and Conductor FAURÉ REQUIEM Friday, September 16, 2016 | Classical 1

JOHN WILLIAMS Saturday, February 4, 2017 | Pops 3

YOGA Sunday, September 25, 2016 | Casual Classics 1

SYMPHONIES ON THE SIDE Sunday, February 12, 2017 | Casual Classics 2

MAHLER 5 Friday, October 14, 2016 | Classical 2

WAGNER WITHOUT WORDS Saturday, February 18, 2017 | Classical 4

WICKED DIVAS Friday, November 4, 2016 | Pops 1

A PAINTER IN THE ORCHESTRA Sunday, March 26, 2017 | Casual Classics 3

BÉLA FLECK & ABIGAIL WASHBURN Saturday, December 31, 2016 | Pops 2

BEETHOVEN PASTORAL Saturday, April 1, 2017 | Classical 5

FLUTE AND HARP IMPRESSIONS Saturday, January 21, 2017 | Classical 3

THE RITE OF SPRING Saturday, April 22, 2017 | Classical 6

COMPOSE YOURSELF Saturday, February 4, 2017 | FREE Family Concert

VIDEO GAMES LIVE Saturday, May 6, 2017 | SPECIAL Event 256.539.4818 700 monroe street sw suite 410 huntsville, al 35801

A perfect day at Bridge Street Town Centre $ $  $ $  $ $! $$ $ !$ $ $ $ !$"$$ $ $ "$ ## $$$" $ $ $$ $ $ $

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Profile for No’Ala Studios

No’Ala Huntsville, July/August 2016  

Our annual home and garden issue; profile of artist Tiril Benton; three lush gardens; three uniquely different Valley homes; maintaining com...

No’Ala Huntsville, July/August 2016  

Our annual home and garden issue; profile of artist Tiril Benton; three lush gardens; three uniquely different Valley homes; maintaining com...

Profile for noala