Leslie Pender has a penchant for historical homes and gardens—most notably her own. The Heights home she shares with her husband, Jim, has previously graced the pages of At Home in Arkansas, prompting us to wonder what was behind the iron gates of her garden. Pender took us on a tour to share how both the past and the present play a role in her beloved outdoor space.
Low on maintenance yet high on style, succulent plantings are an easy way to bring a bit of nature indoors
During the often-dreary days of winter, the smallest pops of green can remind us of the seasons of growth that lay ahead. Succulents, a group of plants characterized by their thick water-storing leaves and minimal requirements for care, prove to be a perfect planting for this time of year. Floral designer Alex Hudson of Tanarah Luxe Floral created this combination by mixing varied styles, shapes, and sizes. “If you have small-headed plants that are very textural then you will want to add in some smooth-textured plants to provide balance and give the eye a rest,” he says of the process….
Floral designer Chris Norwood of Tipton & Hurst teaches us how to layer colorful elements—many of which you can find in your yard—to create a seasonal wreath. Here’s his step-by-step formula to bring a little cheer to your front door.
1 Start with a Grapevine Base
“Many people try to use floral forms, but grapevine wreaths are versatile and make a great base that can be reused,” Norwood says. He also notes that they allow for elements of your design to be easily woven into the scheme without the aid of wire.
Silks A Bloom designers use a contemporary palette and textured cuttings to create a fresh-floral centerpiece for the season
Don’t let the name fool you—the professionals at Silks A Bloom are becoming one of central Arkansas’s hottest vendors for fresh-floral event design. “Our customers loved working with us and encouraged us to branch out to include designs with fresh-cut flowers a while back,” says co-owner and designer Dale Aldridge. “Now, many people are surprised to learn we’re more than just silks,” he adds of the shop’s event floral service….
Jennifer Gibson at The Good Earth Garden Center provides all you need to know about planting mixed containers meant for Arkansas autumns
For transitional seasons with hard-to-predict weather patterns, container planting offers the appeal of low-maintenance landscaping. “I think people tend to be a little intimidated by doing containers, but it’s a matter of simple balance and contrast,” Jennifer Gibson of Little Rock’s The Good Earth Garden Center says. “The key is to bring contrasting foliage colors and textures together to maximize visual interest.”
Defined areas for enjoying nature dot this Little Rock backyard—making it the perfect spot to unwind almost year-round
It’s often said that word of mouth is the best advertisement one can receive. In this West Little Rock neighborhood, perhaps the term should be altered to sight of garden. “There’s a group of sweet friends who all live in this mountaintop neighborhood. I worked with the homeowners across the street and the ones next door, and they led me to help this couple,” landscape designer Chris H. Olsen of Botanica Gardens says.
When the homeowners contacted Olsen they were looking to update their front and back lawns to make them more current and practical for everyday use. The backyard had an existing deck but it was in need of repair and stopped short of taking full advantage of the view of Chenal Mountain as well as creating a space for year-round enjoyment.
In talking with the couple, Olsen learned they were social people who enjoyed entertaining and gathering, and he felt they could benefit from an outdoor area that gave them multiple opportunities to do so. He planned out five defined spaces: a covered porch off the home’s back entrance, a dining area, a sitting area, a covered nook, and an open pavilion on the exterior side of the double-sided fireplace.
To soften the new hardscaping, Olsen added an abundance of filled-to-the-brim containers. “My philosophy on containers is to shove it and cram it full,” laughs Olsen of his more is more approach to garden color. “I want it to look like a living floral arrangement,” he adds. Olsen also wanted the pots to be low-maintenance. He chose heat-tolerant, sun-loving plants along with several evergreen selections for a durable mix that would last from late spring all the way through fall with a few updates. They also installed a drip irrigation system that is woven through the decking into the containers, making the plants easy to water.
“If you create a destination, you’re going to use your backyard more,” Olsen says. “Before there was a lot of dead space, but now there are zones they can enjoy every day.”
Contractor Botanica Gardens
Landscape and fireplace design Chris H. Olsen, Botanica Gardens
Accessories—containers, fountain, lighting, millwork, and plants Botanica Gardens
Exterior designer Daniel Keeley creates a backyard retreat for a Fort Smith family that is equipped for any summertime occasion, from pool parties to weeknight barbecues
“I have known this family for several years and worked on other major projects at different residences,” Daniel Keeley of DK Design says of the friendship and history with his Fort Smith clients. After moving to this home, the owners had a desire to breathe new life into its exterior spaces. Read on to see how he, along with the home’s interior designer Chris Goddard of Goddard Design Group, created a backyard setting that’s perfect for a crowd or a quiet night at home.
Sitting on over two acres, the expansive greenspace was a perfect starting point for Keeley’s outdoor design. “The hardscaping was there, so the yard had great bones,” he says. Existing features, such as the double-sided outdoor fireplace, pool area, stone terraces, and brick work, ushered in an outdoor design primed for entertaining. A stone feature wall—one of the few newly added elements—accented with greenery and flowering bushes adds grandeur to the front elevation.
Mix and Match
When choosing outdoor furnishings, Keeley notes his fondness for an eclectic mix of textures and surfaces. “I didn’t want this to be too matchy,” he says. Throughout the different areas, Keeley blended hand-forged iron elements with classic wicker furniture. Metal chairs around a stone table create a dining space for eight, while groupings of wicker chairs surround glass-topped, iron tables to create intimate spaces for relaxation. A mix of patio flooring options, from stone to red brick pavers, adds to the design.
“The homeowner loves English design,” Keeley says. These touches are easily seen throughout the landscape with numerous topiaries, evergreen plantings and hedges, urns filled with colorful blooms, and classic garden ornaments. Keeley notes the same appreciation of English architecture is found in the home’s interior style.
“What the homeowners asked of Chris Goddard and me was to help update the home to its fullest potential, while tailoring the living spaces, indoors and out, to complement the family’s needs and style,” Keeley says. By creating separate zones for conversation, dining, grilling, and sunning, Keeley made cozy room-like spaces, each with a specific function. Taking cues from the interior floor plan, the outdoor rooms are positioned accordingly. For example, double doors from the home’s interior living room open up to the outdoor dining area. “We centered this grouping right off the living room doors in order for traffic to flow outside seamlessly.” The outdoor furnishings, upholstery pieces, and accessories also tie the outdoor spaces to the inside décor and overall style. “Chris and I picked out the seafoam accent color on the outdoor dining upholstery directly from the interior wall color,” Keeley says of the cohesive design and color palette. Through new landscaping and furnishings that add style and function, Keeley restored this outdoor retreat’s charm.
Contractor Tony Kimes Construction, Inc
Exterior design Daniel Keeley, DK Design
Interior design Chris Goddard, Goddard Design Group
Lighting, outdoor furniture, and plantings DK Design
The design of this classic yet cosmopolitan Little Rock rooftop garden proves to be as inviting as its view of the city
Rooftop venues have long been popular in cities such as Charleston and New York—places where space is often at a premium and must be maximized. However, while necessity may be touted as the mother of invention, it need not be present for one to enjoy the fruits of its labor. Space in Arkansas’ capital city runs rampant in comparison; however, the view is one that, in opinion, may only be fully appreciated from a perch. The owners of this Little Rock condo recognized this and decided to cultivate an exterior space that would allow them to enjoy the skyline, as well as each other’s company. With the help of three local experts, here’s how they created a rooftop oasis in the heart of downtown.
While the pool was already in place, many of the space’s hardscape areas were in need of renovation. The homeowners called on outdoor living expert David Munsey III of Better Lawns & Gardens to update the pool’s coping and mastermind an intricate installation of pavers and artificial turf. “She wanted a checkerboard-like pattern with pavers and grass,” Munsey says of the homeowner’s vision. “It was a challenge to make this aesthetically pleasing and also functional. Our design now has the entire floor on a custom drain that keeps everything intact and prevents water from accumulating,” he notes. “Water is a big concern when you’re designing a rooftop space and you need to make sure you can control it. We have the resources to do that and put those to use here.”
In regard to the pool, the directive was to refresh the top surround to give it a sleek and clean look. The same Atlas Concord pavers used for the floor were employed along the sides of the pool for a streamlined feel. Tiles were cut at a radius along the entry steps to add flair. The repetition of this one material, along with the existing charcoal herringbone pattern seen on the base, allows the surroundings to become the focus. “It’s so important to consider the view when you’re working on a rooftop project. You really want to step back and see how everything looks in the environment,” Munsey adds.
Designer Tobi Fairley, who worked with the family on their home’s interiors, helped to make selections for the outdoor kitchen and furnishings. The kitchen features a grill, refrigerator and bar area, along with a workspace for prepping cocktails or dinner. “The furniture for the exterior is an extension of their chic and sophisticated style,” Fairley says. “The homeowner and I were both fans of the always classic Chinese Chippendale fretwork pattern on the seating, and the black-and-white-striped fabric is the perfect combination of bold and timeless; plus, it is a continuation of a striped floor pattern in the entry of the home. I always love bringing the indoors out so that the exterior space feels much like a real room inside the home,” she says.
Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens designed a variety of plantings to complement each of the aforementioned elements. Trellises, which were inspired by the fretwork on the furnishings, line the wall space, adding both dimension and texture. Both the iron trellises, which were made by Accent Iron in Benton, and the actual containers had to be able to travel via elevator to the rooftop—a consideration that both Olsen and Munsey had to take into account for all parts of the project. Thus, they were designed and built to travel to the penthouse and be assembled onsite.
Heat and wind were top considerations for Olsen as he selected plantings. White Confederate jasmine, an evergreen with a sweet scent, climbs the trellises and will continue to offer color and cover the expanse of the structure in years to come. Wintergreen boxwoods and dwarf mondo grass fill the planters for what Olsen describes as a “clean and elegant” approach. At the pool’s edge, charcoal black planters hold succulents and blue scaevola, heat-tolerant options that will not drop into the pool. “There are really endless options to what we can do with these,” Olsen says of the containers. The same may also be said for the number of ways in which one can enjoy this refreshing oasis.
Contractor Baldwin & Shell Construction Company
Appliances and tile pavers Antique Brick Outdoors
Furnishings Tobi Fairley Interior Design
Hardscaping and pool resurfacing Better Lawns & Gardens
Plantings Botanica Gardens
Trellises Accent Iron, Inc.
Inspired by the season, three local floral designers share their ideas for front entry style
Bright & Sophisticated
David Kirkpatrick, owner of Cabbage Rose, and floral designer Felecia Pleis played off of this home’s blooming spring garden when filling the wrought iron baskets on the doors. “We wanted to keep it natural, and we really felt that this home’s entry doors lend themselves to this look,” Pleis says.
The baskets, which mirror one another, are filled with parrot tulips, field tulips, English ivy, forsythia, dianthus, hanging amaranthus, ‘Monte Casino’ aster, and tweedia. Classic terracotta planters filled with seasonal plantings line the entrance and complement the door displays. Pleis notes that while this arrangement uses fresh flowers—perfect for an event or party—Cabbage Rose could also create the look with silks for a longer life.
Cabbage Rose Florist, Little Rock, (501) 664-4042, cabbageroseflorist.com
Soft & Enchanting
His own front porch was the starting point for About Vase owner Dale Wallace’s take on welcoming warmer weather. He wanted to play to the character of the French revival home where he and his husband Jim Gunnell live, while also reflecting their style preferences. “Jim likes color but I tend to gravitate toward neutrals,” Wallace says. “When decorating, I try to infuse both to show our personalities.”
Having been in the floral design business for 23 years, Wallace admits that he loves having fresh flowers at home, especially on the porch where the pair spends most evenings when weather permits. He foraged their yard for branches, berries, ferns, and other greenery, and then added roses and hydrangeas from his shop to soften the arrangements in the urns. He notes that changing out these garden-picked items—along with providing fresh water—can be a way to maintain the creations and increase their longevity. The wreath, which features more fresh-cut hydrangeas and roses, follows the lead of the containers, while moss topiaries and spheres complete the look.
About Vase, Little Rock, (501) 603-9200, aboutvaselittlerock.com
Bold & Lively
Northwest Arkansas’ PIGMINT floral design company is known for using large doses of color. Their sister shop, Garden Living Supply Co., which offers outdoor supplies and nursery items follows suit with out-of-the-box plantings. To accent the charming porch of this historic Fayetteville home, owner Chelsea Hermez and Garden Living manager Jeffrey Waggoner brought an array of vivid plantings. “This house has a lot of pastel features and a beautiful jade green floor, so we played that up. We also thought about the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday and incorporated a number of pink and purple blooms as a nod to moms,” Hermez says.
The hanging grapevine wreath, a locally made choice, is filled with a few of PIGMINT’s signature cut flowers, including ‘Coral Charm’ peonies, parrot tulips, double tulips, and ‘Free Spirit’ and ‘Pink Floyd’ roses along with a variety of foliage.
Wisteria vines anchor the large teal planters on either side of the door. The team opted for these over traditional evergreens to add visual interest. ‘Angel wing’ begonias, verbena, ‘Mona Lavender,’ bougainvillea, and artichokes—which Waggoner notes “have beautiful foliage” add to the vibrant creation. Several cut flowers were also placed in water picks to give additional blooms and color—an idea that can spruce up any planted container for an event.
A seasonal planting welcomes guests
Container plantings, with their versatility and mobility, are a favorite among both gardening beginners and green-thumbed aficionados. As Arkansans can attest, fickle weather patterns can pose challenges when choosing blooms for the official arrival of spring. Here, Allison Griffin of Westwood Gardens shares a grouping ready to withstand today’s temperatures and beyond.
“We chose a Crescent Garden™ planter for our mixed container,” Griffin notes. “They are lighter than concrete, won’t crack or break like other plastics and concrete, and come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes.” Griffin used bridal wreath spirea, ‘Orange Storm’ quince, ‘Fire Alarm’ heuchera, ‘HGC Merlin’ helleborus, ‘Matrix Lemon’ pansies, cyclamen, ivy, and ferns to create the planted container. “Most of the plants featured here are cool season plants. They can be planted immediately and, as spring progresses, will tolerate any sudden outside temperature dips, which isn’t abnormal for our state,” she adds.
Westwood Gardens, West Fayetteville, (479) 442-3500, East Fayetteville, (479) 571-1500, Rogers, (479) 633-0200, Springdale, (479) 872-9200, westwoodgardens.com