At Home: When did you open Pittman Landscape in Magnolia?
Donna Pittman King:
In the early 1900s my grandfather, A.A. Pittman, tended an orchard and grew vegetables for his family. What was not used he peddled to nearby communities selling his fruits and vegetables from his horse and buggy. His son (my dad) Donald helped while he grew up, and after WWII, he entered into the business with his dad, and began selling a few ornamental shrubs along with fruit trees. Many folks asked for the plants that they bought to be planted, so landscape gradually became an important aspect of the business.
They set up a retail sales yard, which over the years grew into a “mighty fine business,” even selling plants wholesale to discount stores throughout the area. In 1977, I graduated from LSU with a degree in landscape architecture. My father incorporated the landscape business so that I could have my work separate from the other aspects of the growing business. Since that time I have enjoyed creating flowing, beautiful landscapes and focus on that as my main interest.
AH: What’s your favorite part of your job?
DPK: I like to visualize the soon-to-be planting, and put it on paper for presentation. Even the presentation is enjoyable! It’s a fun challenge to build the landscape design and to encourage the landscape crews to enjoy what they do. I get a kick out of opening people’s eyes to the beauty of our native plant materials. I love watching a planting mature to its original intent. Or the pleasures had by seeing someone enjoy a space that I created. It is all delightful to me!
AH: What are some of your favorite landscaping techniques?
DPK: I think that the landscape is more expressive when plants are used that do something—fragrance, color, texture. Even sound can be exciting when properly used in the landscape.
AH: What are some common problems or requests your clients come to you with?
DPK: Low maintenance is the primary request most people have. Of course, they want a beautiful planting, too. The placement of planting beds can make or break a design. Beds in sunny areas are going to be harder to keep than beds under the trees in the shade. The flowing lines that come with artful layout of bed edges coupled with the existing trees can impact any planting. I find that using as many native materials as possible lessens the need for insect control and watering.
AH: What are some of your favorite plants to incorporate into a design?
DPK: I love to use plants that stay within their bounds. I don’t use some of those new crazy out-of-control growing materials! Dwarf-type plants are easy to fit into a garden. Detail plants like Strawberry Geranium, Chocolate Chip Ajuga, Japanese Painted Fern and Dwarf Hostas are some of my favorites.
AH: Do you work mainly in south Arkansas or are there others regions you work on as well?
DPK: My husband Bobby and I work 20 landscape crews from central Arkansas to east Oklahoma and to the Shreveport area. We have crews that can do just about anything from masonry work to carpentry to planting. Irrigation and night lighting are among the jobs that we enjoy.
AH: What else would you like potential clients to know about you and your business?
DPK: The huge palettes of plants that we use at Pittman Landscape are grown on our 200-acre plant nursery in Magnolia, Arkansas. There are over 200 greenhouses. individuals from 100 miles in all directions come to visit Pittman Gardens. The sales staff is intelligent and people- and plant-friendly. Everybody that works for Pittman truly loves plants! Come visit my Web site at www.PittmanLandscape.com then come visit my nursery!