Naturally Fall 2016

Page 1

P.Allen Smith's


Find your




Be Yourself

In this season of costumes, door-to-door showmanship and requests for treats, and adding ornamentation to your home and lawn, being yourself is more important than ever. To me, that means being honest. One day of dressing up is fine, but trying to be something you’re not the other 365 days of the year makes life messy. It’s better to be what you are! We depend on tomato seeds to produce tomatoes, and we depend on acorns to grow oak trees. If you’re true to yourself, it’s easier to share your talents with the world in a genuine and authentic way. What gifts are you hiding? What seeds will you water and nurture inside yourself in the coming seasons? Let them grow and shine brightly for the world to enjoy.


P. Allen Smith's





Alix Fiorino EDITOR

Melissa Tucker DESIGNER

Katherine Laughlin SOCIAL MEDIA





Table of Contents

Chili Cook-off 6

Ornamental Grasses 16

Husk Cherries 18

Antique Roses 24

Lavender Three Ways 26

Pumpkin-spiration 34

CONTACT For advertising inquiries, email For editorial and general feedback, email On the Cover: Toad Pumpkins from the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Seed Collection

i l i h c

Last week, I pulled out my favorite chili recipe and challenged my friend and local chef Scott McGehee to a chili cook-off at his Lost 40 brewery and restaurant in Little Rock. On voting day, we invited friends to be taste testers and deciders.



I also dressed up the tables using pumpkins and fall flowers blooming at my Moss Mountain Farm. Many are from the Home Grown Cut Flowers collection: fire-red celosia Dragon’s Breath. As well as fluffy golden chrysanthemums and ornamental grasses from my garden. I also used these lightweight and realisticlooking pumpkins from my Shop to add even more fall flair. The day was full of beer and friends and food. What more could you ask for? We won’t reveal the winner just yet, but you can try one of these recipes at home and see which one was your favorite. 7








The winter chili has a Tex-Mex flair with fresh lime, cumin and poblano peppers. To play that up, try topping it with avocado, Monterey jack cheese, and fresh jalapeno. Chef McGehee’s fall chili pairs carrots and winter squash with chipotle for a sweet heat that builds as you eat it. Both are delightful!


Photography by Beth Hall Top Right: Plaid Blanket Scarf from Shop P. Allen Centerpieces: Green Heirloom Pumpkin Collection







The Acre Garden at Moss Mountain Farm is so bountiful in October.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” ― Lao Tzu


keep it grassy:

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES ADD TEXTURE AND MOVEMENT Sometimes the path of least resistance is the best. Annuals, as the name implies, must be planted each year. Bulbs can be dug up by squirrels. But you generally know where you stand with most ornamental grasses. They’re light, beautiful and tend to sway in mesmerizing ways when the wind blows. They’re ideal for adding sound and movement to your ornamental garden. They also play well with some of my favorite garden plants. A few more bonuses: These grasses can get by with water from regular rainfall, and if transplanted with compost, can usually survive without regular fertilization. I love the way ornamental grasses work for edging. They can create a wall for privacy from spring to fall, or the shorter grasses can drape gracefully over the edge of a bed and provide a soft edge without growing too far out of bounds. They’re perfect for lining a path or a walkway and adding a wispy, dreamy feel. Pair them with shrubs or tall herbs like lavender or rosemary for an even more sensory, romantic feel. 16


My favorite ornamental grasses are the perennials (look below for recommendations). They are the showiest in late summer or early fall with elegant scapes. Consider planting them near spring bulbs, such as tulips and alliums, to have color while they’re beginning to emerge. They only need “pruning” to approximately 6 to 8 inches above the ground in the spring before new growth begins, which makes them more low-maintenance than your standard shrub. Grasses, when left standing in their winter glory, will collect frost and snow in the most beautiful ways, adding visual interest in the coldest months. If you’re a resident of northern climes, your grasses may need mulching to help survive the winter, but you’re probably already mulching your garden beds. They can be planted in spring or fall, but you should avoid transplanting or planting new plants within a month of the first fall frost.

Ornamental Grass Suggestions: FOR PRIVACY AND HEIGHT:

Prairie Winds® ‘Cheyenne Sky’ panicum: Provides interesting foliage all the way into fall. Turns wine red in early summer and sprouts purple flowers; zones 4 to 9; 30 to 36 inches tall

Prairie Winds® ‘Desert Plains’ fountain grass: Showy flowers in dusky purple that age to tan; green foliage turns red, orange and gold in fall; zones 5 to 9; 40 to 48 inches tall

Prairie Winds® ‘Apache Rose’

panicum: Has soft, rose-colored tips and panicles in fall; Zones 4 to 9; 40 to 48 inches tall.

FOR TEXTURE: ‘Blue CrownTM’ Blue Fescue:

Lovely for foliage in winter; Zones 4 to 8; green in winter; 4 to 8 inches tall

Curly Wurly Corkscrew Rush: Dark

green, twisty foliage; Zones 5 to 9; 12 to 18 inches tall



husk cherries by Jennifer Burke

I remember vividly the first time I tasted a husk cherry.

The flavor was so unique, so different from anything I

It was more than a decade ago while shopping at

had ever tasted. The golden fruit was sweet and earthy

the local farmers market with my young daughter.

with a delightful tropical note. Their flavor nearly

One of the farmers had a small basket of papery

defies explanation, marrying the taste of a sweet, ripe

lantern-shaped fruits on his table. I asked if they were

cherry tomato with the citrus flavors of pineapple and

tomatillos based on their appearance. He was happy


to offer us a handful of husk cherries to taste while he told us all about these interesting fruits.

The husk cherry isn’t only delicious and beautiful. It’s

One bite and we were hooked.

also simple to grow, prolific, and hits its harvest stride



just as the rest of our garden is wrapping up. The low growing vines support large green leaves and set small yellow flowers that develop into bright green lanterns. Each lantern protects the ripening fruit inside. Husk Cherries are an heirloom, dating back to around 1840 when they first appeared in gardening literature. These vigorous fruits were once commonplace in gardens, but have become rare as society moved away from homegrown produce towards what was available in the grocery store. As husk cherries are difficult to transport long distances, they are ill-suited for large scale production for grocery stores and rarely seen outside of farmer’s markets. Luckily, they are perfectly suited to growing in the backyard garden and can be grown in a variety of garden types from containers to raised beds. Husk cherries are members of the Solanacaea family of plants along with other nightshades like tomatoes and eggplants. They also share the same genus and trademark lantern-shaped husk with the tomatillo. Husk cherries are susceptible to the same diseases as tomato and tomatillo plants, but tend to be hardier and more resistant to disease and pests in our garden. They like the same growing conditions as tomatoes, preferring good drainage and planting after the danger of frost has passed. Like tomatoes, they are a bit slow to germinate and tend to sprout roots along their stems. Planting them deeply in rich, well-drained soil will produce vigorous plants and higher yields. They require no staking and are self-pollinating. We begin harvesting our husk cherries in early August with the peak harvest occurring in mid to late September. Here in our New England garden, the husk cherry continues producing right up until the first hard frost.

When the husk cherry is ripe, the husk begins to change from a supple leaf green to a dry parchmentlike appearance. The papery husks and ripe fruit drop to the ground, giving them reason to often be referred to as a “ground cherry.� Fruits do sometimes drop before they are fully ripe, but they can be gathered and kept at room temperature in their husks. In a matter of days, they will ripen fully.


We love to eat husk cherries fresh from the garden. During late summer and early fall, our children are often found walking around the farm as they nibble on a handful of ripe husk cherries. Husk cherries are also just as likely to be snacked on as someone passes through the farmhouse kitchen. When I do decide to cook and bake with husk cherries, I look to highlight their distinct flavor. I find that this recipe for savory jam does just that with a delicious balance of sweetness and acidity accented by rosemary harvested fresh from the fall garden. It’s simple to make and delicious served with a cheese After harvest, husk cherries can be stored in a cool spot with ample air flow for a month or more before the fruit begins to suffer. When our garden provides a bounty of husk cherries, I often freeze them for later use. After being removed from the papery husk, the fruit can be washed, dried, and frozen on a sheet tray in a single layer. Once they are frozen solid, they can be transferred to a freezer bag for long term storage and used directly from the freezer. They can also be dried and enjoyed like raisins, eaten as a snack or added to baked goods. Husk cherries contain high levels of pectin, making them perfect for using in sweet or savory jams and pie or tart fillings. They are as equally suited for pairing with the fall flavors of cinnamon and brown sugar as they are spicy peppers and cilantro to make homemade salsa. Their versatility and long storage life make it a staple in our kitchen every fall.  



and charcuterie course or used as a spread on a grilled cheese sandwich. We’ve taken to adding a generous spoonful of it to the leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches each year. The combination is delicious! Jennifer spends her days living and writing at 1840 Farm with three generations of her family and their dogs, chickens, ducks, goats, and rabbit. She loves to create homegrown recipes in their farmhouse kitchen and dream up new handmade products for their Etsy Shop. You can follow their daily adventures on Facebook and Instagram and enjoy a collection of homemade recipes on their blog.

Savory Husk Cherry & Rosemary Jam 6 ounces husk cherries, papery husks removed 2 Tablespoons (24 grams) brown sugar 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar 4" sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped finely 1 pinch sea salt

Instructions 1. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer before reducing the heat to low. Using the back of a large spoon or a potato masher, gently crush the fruit to break the skins and release their juice. Continue to simmer gently uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

3. This savory jam can be stored in a Mason jar with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for several weeks. Serve it chilled or at room temperature.




The hidden rose garden at Moss Mountain Farm.

Always be yourself. Unless

you can be a Noisette rose. Then always be a Noisette rose.



THE CENTURIES-OLD TRADITION OF PLANTING FLOWERS FOR THE DEPARTED We know cemeteries as place to remember those who have passed on, but many of them are also a haven for antique specimens of flowers like roses. This is because many years ago, family members would plant the favorite flower of a loved one next to their headstone, and in some cases, those flowers live on many hundreds of years later. Strains of centuries-old antique roses remain in the longforgotten cemeteries of rural and modern communities, said Mike Shoup, of the Antique Rose Emporium. 24


“Cemeteries are pretty fruitful hunting grounds for the past,” he said. “These plants were admired in those times when life was harder, and we didn’t have the luxuries we have today. People enjoyed their roses, daylilies, irises, and many were used as part of their memorial.” These flowers and their fragrances can also evoke memories in us. Did your grandmother have a favorite flower? Many

in the older generation would associate themselves with a particular flower or plant, and the aroma of that plant can trigger memories in us. “Most of the roses I’ve discovered have a fragrance, and that’s untrue about our modern roses. But when you find these cemetery roses, many have a distinct fragrance and that’s a memory or an emotional tie,” he said. “Fragrance is something that, even if you haven’t smelled it in 30 years, it can transport you back in time.” Shoup says the aromas of these antique roses are more nuanced, like wine. “Some are citrusy, some are banana cream pie smells, some are pepper-y,” he said. “They’re all different and that makes them even more compelling, too. It’s not just rose fragrance, it’s lots of different types of fragrances that come from different types of flowers, like describing wine.” And these plants are tough, Shoup said. “We find some of these plants have the tenacity to survive through time. We only find those that were strong enough to live through the ages, and in many cases without the care of anyone. They lived through the seasons and ebb and flow and are amazingly tenacious.” These plants give us a glimpse into the past, and because they’re often next to a headstone, that helps to put a date on them.

“That’s the story of cemeteries. I think cemeteries are a throwback in horticulture to what was once popular. You’re seeing some of the best plants in some of these ethnic or smaller community cemeteries,” he said. “And it’s more than just roses. People planted trees and shrubs and lots of different things, so it becomes a collection of plants once admired 100 or 150 years ago.” They’re also more than just memories; sometimes these roses give a look into important historical events. “Not only are these nostalgic plants, but also some history,” he said. “A rose I found in Texas turned out to be a rose called Louis Phillippe, and it was brought over as a gift from the French when Texas was a Republic, so we see this historical thread in roses as well. It says a lot about the changes in roses, too. Those are times when roses were known to be tough, had fragrance and compelling attributes that made them easy for homeowners to grow.” Signs you’ve found an antique rose: • Location: Any rose that survives in an old cemetery is usually pretty tough, unless you can tell it’s a new gravestone. If it’s near a headstone dated in the 1930s, 40s or even 1800s, that’s a clue. • Color and shape: Modern roses have a very upright habit, with very glossy leaves. Antique roses can be cascading like fountains, with thick, chunky and pale foliage. • Fragrance: If it has a strong fragrance, you might be dealing with an antique rose. 25


LAVENDER CHEAT SHEET: Variety: If you’re a beginner, choose the Provencal variety for beautiful color and a traditional look. Zones: 5, 6, 7 and 8 Height: 1 to 2 feet Soil: Well-drained Bloom time: Summer Attributes: fragrant, drought-tolerant, evergreen, deer and wildlife resistant


Lavender Vinegar

Room spray

A cup of lavender tea is good

Use as a fabric softener, bath

Combine ž cup water, 3 tablespoons



fragrance or as a facial toner or body

vodka, witch hazel or real vanilla

sleeplessness. Mix one tablespoon

splash. Fill a one-quart jar half full

extract, and 5 drops each of lavender,

of dried lavender flowers with

with lavender leaves and flowers.

lemon and rosemary essential oil in an

boiling water in a teapot and steep

Use a plastic lid, but if using metal,

8 oz spray bottle. Shake well and spray

for 10 minutes. Save leftover tea to

cover top of the jar with plastic wrap.

as needed.

use as a hair rinse.

Fill with white vinegar and place in




a dark location for 4 weeks, shaking occasionally. 26


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Gather friends and family this autumn season. Tour the abundant gardens and Allen’s private home, then sit down to a garden-to-table dining experience featuring recipes selected from Allen’s best-selling cookbook.



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The traditional jack-o-lantern is fun but can be time-consuming and tedious. And it’s not always kid-friendly. So, if you’re looking for easier ways to work pumpkins into your fall décor, here’s a few ideas I love.


It’s not officially fall until we start tablescaping with pumpkins. Right? This works best if you include gourds in varying shapes and colors. You could also pair them with edibles and Home Grown Cut Flowers from the garden as shown here. To add height and more visual interest to your tablescapes, consider placing pumpkins on cake stands or inside pastry domes.





fell in love. Carving up a jack o’lantern and placing plants

traditional jack-o-lanterns. And this Toad pumpkin

inside the head, eyes and mouth is too quirky and cute

variety, with its small shape and interesting “warts”

not to share. It’s both practical and appealing, and I can

will add even more whimsy to your designs. Try

imagine these fun planters – with big grassy hair and kale

growing these from seed next year, so you’ll have

eyes -- would delight children of all ages. Click here for

plenty to choose from in your yard. It’s fun to let the


warts on the toad pumpkin guide your design.

I saw this idea on the Garden Therapy blog and instantly

Painted pumpkins are a popular alternative to the












Visit us at to find more of your favorite recipes and creative tips.

MEET Marge

Marge keeps herself busy guarding the garden. Her hobbies are chasing birds, perfecting her surprise pounce and playing hide and seek with Allen. She’s calm, good-natured, inquisitive, but sometimes aloof. She’s a country girl at heart, and she can’t resist a selfie!

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