Spring could be a season of surprises, garden expert P. Allen Smith says

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comFebruary 28, 2014 

Gardening and lifestyle guru P. Allen Smith will be a keynote speaker at the Bluegrass Trust's Antiques & Garden Show.

  • Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation's Antiques & Garden Show

    What: 29th annual show with more than 80 exhibitors, designer and garden vignettes, fine antiques and art, gardens and flowers, collectibles, vintage silver, jewelry and more.

    When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 7 and 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 9

    Where: Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena, 4089 Ironworks Pkwy.

    Tickets: $15-$20. Available at the gate or at Bgtantiquesandgardenshow.org.

    KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

    Tickets to lectures must be purchased separately from general admission. Tickets may be purchased individually (prices below) or for all three speakers ($150). Reservations required for each event: (859) 253-0362 or Bgtantiquesandgardenshow.org/tickets.

    Thomas Jayne. Noon March 7. "How to Decorate With Antiques," luncheon and lecture. $60.

    Renny Reynolds. 4 p.m. March 7. "Listening to the Land." $45.

    P. Allen Smith. 1 p.m. March 8. "In the Spirit of Mr. Jefferson: A Year at Moss Mountain Farm." $60.

Amid this polar-vortexed wild ride of a winter, garden lovers might be in for surprises this spring.

"It will be interesting to see what has happened this winter. For so much of the country it's been a record year" for weather, said P. Allen Smith, garden designer and lifestyle guru.

Smith will be a keynote speaker at next weekend's Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation's Antiques & Garden Show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

First off, Smith predicted that most blooming will be delayed about a month because of the weather.

Plus, he said, people "have been lulled into a place of false security" by "marginally hearty plants" winters for the past few years have been milder.

"We are all seduced by gardenias," he said.

Even some perennial plants that usually come back strong might not have survived this crazy winter weather.

But, he said, this offers "an opportunity to redesign our gardens."

That is something Smith, 53, who lives at his Moss Mountain Farm outside Little Rock, Ark., knows a thing or two about.

He has designed landscapes all over the country for a range of clients, including Hollywood celebrities and the Rockefellers. His background in England studying garden history prepared him for a wide range of designs, from small neighborhood gardens to expansive estates.

He said the most important thing is "taking some time to really think about what you want that garden to be."

Be careful, he said, when shopping for plants.

"I'll go into a garden center and I'll lose my mind, just start grabbing things," Smith said, laughing.

While the last convulsions of winter pass through the region, he said, "it's also a good time to really get your soil prepared properly."

That might involve working in a lot more compost to refresh the soil before planting.

But, he said, the biggest thing and perhaps the hardest in designing a garden is letting go.

"Gardens parallel life," he said. "Gardens, like ourselves, can fall into ruts." All of the sudden, he said, people look up and say, "Heavens, I haven't done a thing around here in 10 years."

He hopes his talk at the Antiques & Garden show will inspire gardeners to look at their properties in a different way and think of some new possibilities.

"It is what you remove — it's not what you add — that makes it extraordinary," he said.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms.

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