Author: Hannah Thomas

5 Things I’ve Learned From Designing with Tulips

This weekend marks the end of this year’s tulip bloom. The last of the flowers will take their final bow and step off the stage this week. Sad, yes, but much more joy. What a glorious season despite the vagaries of weather varmints. I will revel in the memories of such exquisite and luxurious blooms all summer and into the fall when I begin to orchestrate the next chorus of bloom.

Over the years I’ve planted more tulips than I can count, and through trial and error I’ve learned a few things about designing with these beautiful flowers that I’d like to share.

Bold color blocking is the way to go, so be generous.
I’ve never regretted planting too many bulbs in the fall, even though my back might say otherwise. I like to see 25 or more bulbs in a single area. The visual impact can’t be over estimated. Even better, planting a large amount of tulips in a single color results in a blanket of color that will catch the eye even from a distance.

Mix up the flower shapes.
The range of bloom shape and form is exciting, if not daunting…given all of the choices these days. But, be fearless. One can hardly go wrong. The slender and elegant Lily-Flowered next to peony types, those set again juxtaposed Darwin and cottage forms all will sing together. Like the large and wide ranging cast in a musical…everyone brings a voice and presence.

Early to late.
When I see the first bloom I get greedy…I hear my inner self saying “Give me more, more,
more!” Choosing early bloomers as well as mid and late season bloomers will extend the pleasure of having these in your life. This is a great way to plant bulbs even if you are growing them in containers.

Color preferences are personal.
Among the tulips you have just about any color you can find on a paint store color fan. I tend to prefer to creat themes…like all pinks and purples. Or a range of whites and cream…pushing it a bit with the palest butter yellow. Or, go bold with contrasting colors of purple orange and red for a retina gripping comb. The possibilities are endless.

Mix it up with good bedfellows.
I delight in seeing a cacophony of other cool season plants chiming in as companions with my tulips, anything goes. I frequently uses the usual suspects like violas and pansies, or perennials such as coral bells and hosta. Vegetables, or edibles, can also add flare. Consider the bolting pink blooms of radishes (last fall’s late crop) or the sulphur yellow flowers of turnips, kale and collards to accent your tulips.

15 Great Companion Plants for Tulips

Cool Season Annuals

  • Nemesia
  • Viola
  • Pansies
  • Kale
  • Snapdragons

Reliable Perennials

  • Coral Bells
  • Hosta
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Candytuft
  • Strawberry Begonias
  • Lamb’s Ear
  • Sedge ‘Ogon’
  • Dianthus

I’m always learning and I take great joy in trying new colors, combinations and plant palettes. Nature itself brings an overall harmony to the garden so that whatever we do we can never go wrong.

To learn more about designing with Tulips, check out the video below!

What is a Flexitarian Diet?

Healthy eating and environmental conservation are both becoming major priorities for many people these days. There’s been a lot of talk about sustainable diets lately, but what exactly is a sustainable diet?

Sustainable diets are intended to address the increasing health and environmental concerns related to food production and consumption. This means imbalanced diets that are low in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains but high in red and processed meat are responsible for the greatest health burden worldwide. The environmental impacts of food production are similarly disconcerting. Agriculture is responsible for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, over application of fertilizers and other chemicals in some areas has led to pollution in our surface and ground waters.

Sustainable diets were designed to combine the challenges of creating a food system that supplies healthy diets for a growing population while also reducing its environmental impact.

This is where the flexitarian diet comes in. The name, Flexitarian, is a combination of the word flexible and vegetarian. Created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, this diet is designed to help people reap the benefits of a plant-based diet without having to give up meat and animal products entirely.

The Flexitarian Diet can aid in weight loss, reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Environmentally, reducing meat consumption decreases greenhouse gas emissions and helps preserve natural resources. It’s obvious why so many people are shifting to more plant-based diets.

Guidelines for a Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian Diet has no specific rules or recommended numbers of calories per day. In fact, it’s more a lifestyle than a diet. It’s a great option if you’re interested in a more healthy lifestyle without necessarily having to follow a strict diet. Below are a few guidelines you can follow to maintain a flexitarian diet.

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Focus on protein from plants instead of animals.
  • Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
  • Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods.
  • Limit added sugar and sweets.

Foods to Eat on the Flexitarian Diet

A flexitarian diet puts emphasis on plant proteins and other minimally processed plant foods while limiting animal products. Below are some flexitarian-friendly foods you can incorporate into your diet.

  • Proteins: Mushrooms, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, lentils.
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Greens, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower.
  • Starchy vegetables: Winter squash, peas, corn, sweet potato.
  • Fruits: Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, cherries.
  • Whole grains: Quinoa, teff, buckwheat, farro.
  • Nuts, seeds and other healthy fats: Almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, avocados, olives, coconut.
  • Plant-based milk alternatives: Unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp and soy milk.
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings: Basil, oregano, mint, thyme, cumin, turmeric, ginger.
  • Condiments: Reduced-sodium soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, ketchup without added sugar.
  • Beverages: Still and sparkling water, tea, coffee.

The goal of a flexitarian diet is to emphasize plant-based foods, while still allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. When incorporating animal products, choose the following when possible:

  • Eggs: Free-range or pasture-raised.
  • Poultry: Organic, free-range or pasture-raised.
  • Fish: Wild-caught.
  • Meat: Grass-fed or pasture-raised.
  • Dairy: Organic from grass-fed or pastured animals.

Due to its flexible nature and focus on what to include rather than restrict, the Flexitarian Diet is a popular choice for people looking to eat healthier.

To learn more about flexitarian diets, check out the video below.

Why You Should Grow More Daffodils

Inexhaustible beauty can be found in the most ordinary things. Not that I would call any daffodil ordinary, but I feel few people really look at this marvelous flower closely and understand its virtues and beauty.

Too often that which comes easy or familiar to us is often not as revered or appreciated. We see this in our relationships with others and the many things to see and do in our own ‘backyard’, but takes visitors from out of town to see these places. Daffodils, as flowers, fall into this category.

So, as the daffodil season comes to a close here are a few compelling reasons to add more daffodils to your life.

First and Bravest

‘Rynvelds Early Sensation’ is our first variety of daffodil to bloom…often the first week of January….yes January! It’s soon followed by ‘February Gold’. It’s that  first flower to say to us  ‘Hey, don’t despair spring will be here soon’. Also, the daffodil, just to reassure us, hangs with us until we are well passed the official date of spring and the earliest peonies begin to bloom. Certainly,  no single variety can span with consistent bloom from January to May, but a range or early, mid and late bloomers have for us each year.

Loyal Friend

Daffodils are perennials. It’s a build that comes back every year …often for many decades. But, give them as much sun as possible, let the foliage dieback naturally and after blooming they can benefit from a good organic all purpose fertilizer.

Deer Resistant

Yes, these are resistant to munching deer and ground burrowing critters. We’ve planted over 450,000 bulbs (and still planting – yes, I know it’s an obsession) at Moss Mountain Farm over the last decade with any issues of overgrazing.

Generous and Good Multipliers

We’ve found some varieties are better ‘increasers’ than others. For instance ‘ Ice Follies’ an early bloomer, ‘Tete e tete’ and  ‘Thalia’ are exemptional. We rarely dig and divide existing daffodil clumps. I’m sure some varieties could benefit, but there have been old varieties on the farm potentially since the mid-1800s and they continue to bloom. So, to divide or not to divide? I’d almost rather add more new varieties…see, I said it’s an obsession!

5 Companion Perennials to Consider

These perennials will emerge as the daffodils have finished blooming are declining, eventually these perennials will cover the spent foliage of the daffodils.

  • Daylily
  • Coral bells
  • Solomon Seal
  • Russian Sage
  • Hyssop ‘Fortune Blue’

Spring at Moss Mountain Farm

After the long winter that most of us have endured, I invite you to celebrate Spring’s arrival with a visit to Moss Mountain Farm, located just outside Little Rock, AR.

A visit to Moss Mountain Farm is an immersive experience of inspiration, education and conservation. I love welcoming guests into my home and gardens, all while promoting the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds.

One of our most popular Spring events is the annual Easter Sunday Celebration. We invite guests to join us for a lunch buffet and an afternoon of fun for all.

Bring the family for an Easter portrait among the tulips, and give the little ones a chance to hold a baby chick or feed some sheep. It’s a fun-filled celebration that I look forward to every year!

For more information about visiting Moss Mountain Farm, check out our tour schedule.

My Top Spots to Visit in Arkansas


It’s no secret that I love living in the Natural State.

There’s so much to see and do, from outdoor adventures to unique cultural experiences. Even as a longtime Arkansan, I’m constantly discovering new ways to experience this beautiful state.

Check out a few of my favorite spots to travel in Arkansas!

 

BUCK ISLAND

As a nature enthusiast, I never grow tired of exploring the Natural State and all the outdoor experiences it has to offer. I’m always looking for areas I haven’t seen before, and Buck Island has quickly become a new favorite of mine for outdoor adventures.

Located just outside Helena, AR along the Mississippi River, Buck Island is a public island featuring 880 acres of native forests, 620 acres of white sand beaches, five miles of hiking trails and a three-mile side channel.

Buck Island gives visitors a chance to experience the natural wonders of the Mississippi River in a whole new way. Recently conserved for public access, the island offers new opportunities for camping, hiking, paddling, swimming, fishing and more.

The island also supports numerous wildlife species, some of which are endangered, and is a stop-over site along the Mississippi Flyway, used by 65 percent of North American migratory bird species, making it a bird-watcher’s paradise!

 

SUBIACO ABBEY

I love exploring unique spots around Arkansas, especially those that offer a glimpse into what feels like a whole other world. Subiaco Abbey offers just that.

Located in the small town of Subiaco in the Arkansas River Valley is Subiaco Abbey, which houses a community of over forty Benedictine monks and includes a preparatory academy and retreat center.

Established in 1878, Subiaco Abbey features Old World architecture, such as the massive Romanesque-style Abbey Church. Perched on a hillside, the Abbey also offers scenic views of the surrounding area.

Subiaco Abbey isn’t just known for its breathtaking views and architecture. Since 2003, the monks at Subiaco have been making their famous hot habanero pepper sauce known as “Monk Sauce.” Made fresh from habanero peppers grown in the Subiaco gardens, “Monk Sauce” packs a fiery punch and is a favorite among visitors.

 

CRYSTAL BRIDGES

If you’re looking for an incredible cultural experience, look no further than Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Crystal Bridges is a state-of-the-art museum which has created a nationwide buzz since its opening in 2011. Located in Northwest Arkansas, this museum attracts visitors from all over the country.

Any art lover would be impressed by the museum’s world-class permanent collection, which spans five centuries of American masterworks. Crystal Bridges also features a year-round schedule of exciting and unique temporary exhibitions.

The architecture of Crystal Bridges is just as impressive as the artwork inside the museum. Surrounded by native forest, the exterior of Crystal Bridges was designed in a way that blends nature and art seamlessly.

The museum grounds also feature a classic “Usonian” home designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which is an absolute must-see!

 

THE UNEXPECTED

I love seeing how art can rejuvenate an area or space, which is exactly what the Unexpected has done for Fort Smith, Arkansas.

If you’re passing through the Arkansas River Valley, you’ll want to stop by downtown Fort Smith to catch a glimpse of the colorful, unique murals that are scattered about the area.

The Unexpected is an annual public art festival and downtown revitalization project created by the nonprofit, 64.6 Downtown, which brings renowned artists to the Fort Smith Area to create outdoor art over the course of one week.

As you explore downtown Fort Smith you’ll find that the urban murals truly are, as the name says, unexpected! The public art is a walkable experience that also allows you to explore the downtown Fort Smith area and all it has to offer. While in the area, check out some of Fort Smith’s well-known historic sites, such as Judge Isaac Parker’s courthouse and the National Historic Society.

 

To learn more about my favorite spots in Arkansas, check out the video below or visit Arkansas.com.