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P. Allen Smith

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#1 Rail Paul

Rail Paul

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 01:22 PM

Kim Severson, the NY Times's southern reporter, has an article about this widely known (except in NY and CA) designer and garden specialist. He has two TV shows, a PBS gig, and has been a regular on the DIY channel and the Weather Channel over the years.

Sure, former President Bill Clinton has the name recognition, but is he a fellow in the Royal Horticultural Society?

Does he own a 650-acre estate punctuated with 175,000 daffodils and a spectacular, three-story camera-ready Greek Revival retreat?

Does he have the highlighted blond hair, a growing middle America fan base and an upcoming line of branded holiday wreaths and spice rubs?

No, Mr. Clinton does not.

Still, Mr. Smith might well be the most famous tastemaker you’ve never heard of. The son of a working-class widow, he grew up with 4-H chickens and a job in the family shrub shop, then managed to turn himself into the Martha Stewart of the South.

Here, everyone in town seems to know him. People say hello with an easy familiarity. Sure, there are those who will tell you his fame has gone to his head, but his fans don’t agree.

“He comes across as someone we could relate to,” said Yingling Dewitt, who along with his wife, Debbie, watches Mr. Smith’s national public television series, “P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home.” “It’s kind of like talking to your neighbor who can tell you what’s working for him and what isn’t.”

Yet despite the quarter-million gardening books in print, two TV shows and 100,000 e-newsletter subscribers, the name P. Allen Smith can draw a blank among a certain slice of the garden and design crowd.


“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones. ”

Niccolò Machiavelli