A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a group of garden bloggers invited to Little Rock, Arkansas, for P. Allen Smith’s fourth annual Garden2Blog event. (Check out the highlights from this select conference — all in the form of a music video!)
Do you know P. Allen Smith? I actually learned of him a year ago when I started writing for KCET’s Living blog.
Allen (just Allen, ’cause we’re friends now) is a celebrated garden designer, bestselling author, and TV and radio personality. His show, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, is syndicated on KCET, our Southern California PBS affiliate. Every week he talks gardens, home designs, and how-to projects, and offers glimpses into the expansive estate he owns on the south bank of the Arkansas River — an estate that is basically his testing ground for those very gardens, home designs, and how-to projects on his show.
The estate is called Moss Mountain Farm and encompasses the P. Allen Smith Garden Home, terrace gardens, rose garden, apple orchard, stone fruit orchard, a one-acre vegetable plot, a field full of hundreds of daffodils, and the aptly named Poultryville, where Allen works to conserve heritage breeds.
I knew all this heading into Garden2Blog because of his show, but to see this place in all its glory is something else.
The five little things that made my week…
1. My garden assistant. Or more like, boss.
Earlier this week, I had the honor of being invited to Little Rock, Arkansas, for author, garden designer, and TV personality P. Allen Smith’s fourth annual Garden2Blog event. This event brought together garden bloggers from all over the country to meet some of the movers and shakers in the gardening world and discuss current trends in the industry. I mean, what’s better than powwowing with a group of garden geeks over our love of dirt and all things green?
Please pardon the lack of posts lately… These last couple of months have been a hurricane of all-day and all-night writing sessions as I bang out my book manuscript and write, read, edit, repeat. Happy to say, I’m in the final stretch!
What little free time I do have, I’m selfishly spending on easy getaways to Vegas (where I just saw Jane’s Addiction play their entire Nothing’s Shocking album — an album I vividly remember from my high school days, cruising the Strip with “Jane Says” blaring in my car), much-needed midweek camping trips to Big Sur, mindless marathons of my favorite shows (HBO’s Silicon Valley is a new favorite!), and sleep… precious, precious sleep, for as long as I can before the day’s work begins.
Following a press trip for garden designer and TV personality P. Allen Smith’s Garden2Blog event in Little Rock, Arkansas, next week, I’ll finally be back to my regular routine on the blog. I can’t wait to share all the posts that have been bouncing around in my head lately, especially as I get back to my very neglected spring garden (luckily, the tomatoes that I transplanted back in March are thriving on their own!).
As I wrap up my manuscript, enjoy this glimpse into one of the most beautiful drives in the country, the Central California coastline — or, the five little things that made my week!
1. My Monday ended with this technicolor sunset in Big Sur. Not a bad way to start the week.
The five little things that made my week…
1. Harvested a very tenacious carrot this week. As you can tell by the leaves, it started growing outward along the surface for a while, then found its way deep into the soil, going deeper, deeper… the carrot ended up being over a foot long and I still haven’t found the end piece that broke off. We had to get out the shovel for this one!
It’s not even summer yet, but it sure feels like it. The current heatwave in Los Angeles has us sweltering in 90-plus degree heat, even out on the coast where it’s usually temperate.
And if you stepped inside a California supermarket right now, you’d think summer was in full swing. Our produce aisles are packed with an abundance of watermelons and peaches, not to mention pineapples, strawberries, ears of corn, and organic heirloom tomatoes. Some of it comes from south of our border, but a surprising lot is harvested from farms around Southern and Central California — possibly in part to our very warm winter this year.
On hot and humid afternoons like this, where I’m stuck inside working all day with no air conditioner (it’s just not very common for a 1930s-era coastal bungalow), I can’t resist picking up a hefty, juicy watermelon while I wait for the melons in our garden to get going. If I end up with a really big fella, I’ll usually make an agua fresca for the week.
Aguas frescas (quite literally, “fresh waters”) are a popular refreshment in Mexico and Latin America, and they’re as ubiquitous as soda is here. They usually consist of a fruit juice blended with sugar and water, but some (like horchata) also contain grains, seeds, and flowers. A quick run through the blender and you have a light, invigorating drink that beats a soda any day. While aguas frescas are perfect as-is, I’ve been known to sneak a shot of rum or tequila in mine for happy hour at the house!
One of my favorite combinations to make is a watermelon and lime agua fresca, and it’s as refreshing and energizing as it sounds. I can easily down the whole pitcher myself! And here’s a fun fact: This recipe was originally developed for my forthcoming cookbook, until I decided I wasn’t doing drinks in it (due to space constraints). So, the book’s loss is your gain. Drink up!
I grew a radish tree this season. A tree? you might ask, with an eyebrow raised skeptically. But when I show you the 5-foot beast that just kept growing and growing in my garden — started from seed last summer and then overwintered — you’ll realize that yes indeed, I grew a radish tree.