Anyone who has visited our Shop over the years has probably noticed the garden at the entrance and the courtyard that centers the front showrooms. They are an integral piece to the overall feel of the Shop. Visitors may have also noticed the majority of plantings in these areas follow a ‘All-White' flower theme, which was begun decades ago by the store founder, Dixon Smith. In order to get a little history on the design of the building and its gardens, we sat down with her one sunny afternoon. In Dixon's own words, she describes the process that led her to an all-white garden that has defined the exterior of the Shop for years.
“Relatives who lived in Connecticut near the White Flower Farm Nursery first inspired me to order a catalogue and then order plants from that unusual source. The original idea of an all-white garden came about because colored flowers disappear in early evening and at night - only white flowers are visible at these times. Right after seven oak trees were planted on our lot in Jefferson Place, I ordered white flowering Virburnum for my home, which have since grown from bush size to trees over twenty five feet tall - they are show stopping. They first bloom in earliest Spring covered in large snowy frostings of flowers. With that kind of early success and the proven high impact of a single color garden, every garden I’ve been involved with since has followed this formula.
When Hays Town and I were planning the New Orleans style courtyard at the Shop, it was first designed to bring natural daylight into all interior spaces of our building. Then, it was made private with a high brick wall which included, of course, a traditional wall fountain and a pond. The fish in the pond are responsible for keeping the mosquitos at bay and the ancient Sweet Olive tree replaced the usual Palm tree planted off center in typical New Orleans courtyards. The Sweet Olive was picked for fragrance and its white flowers. Originally, the rest of the plantings were almost all green to allow the natural, soft old brick paving and walls to be the important color theme. There were Yucca and Banana trees along with ferns in the flower beds. Later, with the addition of an arbor, we used white Wisteria as a canopy and our beloved white blooming Crepe Myrtles shed their petals on the brick carpet.
The Shop building is a copy of an old blacksmith shop in New Orleans. The planting there have always been kept very simple so as not to detract from the architecture. The low block wall out front was added to distract from the ‘modern’ parked cars in the parking lot. Three twisted trunk Crepe Myrtle trees shaded the front window from the west sun. And, of course, the Shop has remained faithful to the ‘All-White' flower theme I began so long ago.”