After several days of much needed rain here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, yesterday dawned bright and beautiful. Just the sort of spring day where you gladly heed the beckoning call of your yard to get out and plant something. So it was with a hint of reluctance that I decided to commit a few hours of my day to listen to someone else talk about gardening rather than actually gardening myself. I usually reserve such things for dreary winter days when spring is but a distant hope.
I had seen that P. Allen Smith, garden and design expert as well as host of the PBS television show P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, was going to be speaking at Calloway’s Nursery in Hurst, Texas. So I made the short drive and arrived early enough to have a look around, take some pictures, and unexpectedly partake in more than a few freshly baked cookies made with Allen’s Aunt Jamie’s recipe.
Not to be overly dramatic, but I really was amazed at the huge variety of flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables there. As I wandered the isles, I was approached several times by pleasant employees, each asking if I had any questions or needed any help. It was obvious to me that they were very knowledgeable about what I was looking at and truly interested in helping me. What a nice change from the ever so common “my boss told me I had to ask people if they needed help, so what do you want” attitude that pervades many retail establishments. I saw Allen walking the isles with several Calloway’s employees and a pull-cart gathering plants for his presentation. And quite frankly, the employees helping me showed the same amount of courtesy and interest in my questions as those helping Allen.
Soon the crowd began to take their seats for Allen’s presentation, so I grabbed a chair. Before the actual presentation, Allen wandered through the crowd just saying, “Hi,” and asking people how they were doing. He came across as just a regular, albeit very knowledgeable and very famous, guy who was genuinely glad to meet you.
The presentation started, and Allen talked about his horticultural background, design principles, concern for the environment, his beloved Garden Home Retreat, and his desire to make gardening easy yet rewarding for everyone. I loved his analogy of trying to create for the home gardener what the Garanimals clothing line has created for many youngsters. If you’re old enough to remember, that was where as long as you wore one of your shirts that had the giraffe label, and a pair of pants that also had a giraffe label, your Mom wouldn’t send you back to your room to change before the school bus arrived. Now that I think about it, I’ve got a couple friends who regularly wear a tiger shirt with a pair of aardvark pants; it makes for an interesting sight.
A little over an hour and a half of interactive demonstrations, amusing anecdotes, questions and answers, and just good gardening advice went by before the audience know it. Hey, I even won an autographed copy of P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden cookbook. I’ll share some of Allen’s garden design ideas in future articles.
So, was I glad I went to Calloway’s Nursery yesterday? You bet! I left with some great ideas, some really cool plants, and the knowledge that I now have a new favorite place to shop for gardening supplies. Any day is a good day to go to Calloway’s Nursery. Even if P. Allen Smith isn’t there when you go, you’ll still be treated like a celebrity.