I was lucky enough a couple of months ago to be given an opportunity to join the Tulsa Garden Club on one of their excursions. This particular jaunt was to Arkansas to visit Marlsgate Plantation in Scott, Arkansas; Chris Olsen and his nursery in Little Rock called Plantopia. Little did I realize but we also were to have dinner in his home. Also on this trip was a stop at P. Allen Smith's, Moss Mountain Farm. That place has been a mini-bucket list trip for me so I was YES!!!!! It was just an overnight trip which was fine with me. We met at 7:30 Wednesday morning and the bus arrived for us to climb aboard. The bus driver alighted the steps, a very tall large white-bearded gentleman and I instantly remembered something. A guy I went to high school with, graduated a year before me was a bus driver but I wasn't sure if it was Roger. I got a bit closer to see what his name tag said but it was too small and this guy was so tall I just could not see it. He looked at me and said, "Yes, you know me." I laughed and said, "Roger!" He was a really nice guy in high school and was in my father's boy scout troop and was around a lot. It's funny I cannot place his young face in my memory so I will be looking at the yearbook soon.
Roger was a wonderful driver, especially through all the torrential rains we encountered right out of Tulsa and most of the morning.
After a long drive with a short pit stop where most of us got drenched between the bathroom break and going back to the bus we arrived at Marlsgate Plantation. What a beautiful old mansion and the antiques inside were awesome. The owner, David Garner was a tiny wisp of a man all dressed to the nines. White hair coiffed perfectly with gold and diamond bracelets, rings and watch he was a stitch. Extremely southern in his tales, lingo and mannerisms he was a joy to listen to.
We were served a sit down lunch in the lower rooms of the house and then the tour began. We were to see the gardens too but he said it had rained almost 2 months solid and were under water and completely ruined.
After we were done we loaded the bus yet again to make our way to downtown Little Rock to our hotel. We checked in and after a 45 minute rest period yet again ascended the bus steps for a trip to Chris Olsen's Plantopia. It's a greenhouse, like any other greenhouse but the ladies loved it and were buying plants and things left and right. The bottom of the bus was full and I worried about the plants in the hot bus.
Apparently I did not get any photos from his house that I can find but after the greenhouse we were off to Chris's house for dinner. Amazing it was. He built the house 22 years ago when he and two other people were there. The other two neighbors sold off their land and a housing sprang up around his oasis. It's funny, as we were driving around and winding through the neighborhood I thought this was wrong. A regular housing addition how could it be but when we arrived and drove straight down into the culdesac to his house there it was. FANTASTIC! He also said that he was selling and moving to a Spanish style house, old, in Little Rock proper. A new project! Can't wait to see what he does with it. His current house was only 2,100 sq.ft. but he throws parties for 350 people all the time. AMAZING! He was a terrific host and so funny. He is supposed to be on television but I'm not sure where. Have to look him up.
The next morning we packed it all up and hauled into the bus for the very long trip to Moss Mountain Farm, a good 45 minute drive winding in the back country of Arkansas. Finally arriving we unloaded the bus, YET AGAIN to see this magnificent view. Gardens everywhere. Vegetables, roses, views, views, views!
The humidity though was about 100% and just stifling. The walking was an issue for several of the elderly people who just could not walk down the paths or back up. Today my quads are killing me but it was so worth it.
The Arkansas river!
After the walking in which there was not a dry piece of clothing on my body it was time to tour his home. He had it built new to look like it had been in place for 100 years. Once you walked into the door the A/C was fantastic for us red-faced walkers. Whew! We all gathered in the living and were told to sit while the lady told us a bit about the house. That home was so inviting I could definitely live there.
After the house tour we adjourned to the barn for our lunch of kale salad topped with strawberries, feta cheese, and walnuts and a dessert of pecan buttermilk pie!
A trip well worth the time!