Herb Society draws Beaumonters to annual meeting

Governor’s mansion in historic Quapaw

Herb enthusiasts from Texas and all over the United States met in Little Rock, Arkansas, from May 4-7 for the annual meeting and educational conference. Many from the Beaumont area were in attendance. Highlights of the conference included a presentation by P. Allen Smith and tour of his Moss Mountain farm, trip to Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, dinner at the governor’s mansion, and presentations by many well-known herbal experts.

Smith, 2017 honorary president for HSA, is garden designer, author and TV personality. Moss Mountain, hailed by the New York Times as a “stunning estate overlooking the Arkansas River,” is the 500-acre epicenter for promoting the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds. Tours included the terrace gardens, rose garden, vegetable garden, Poultryville, and Smith’s garden home, used as a set for his PBS television series. Lunch was prepared by Moss Mountain Farm’s chef using herbs from the garden and was served under the arbor. In Smith’s words, “Here we hope to share the beauty of this place and extend the warmest hospitality to all of our guests.” 

Garvan Gardens, the botanical gardens of the University of Arkansas, is nestled in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains in Southwest Arkansas near Hot Springs. From dynamic architectural structures to majestic landscapes, Garvan Woodland Gardens offers breathtaking sights at every turn.

Members enjoyed a pre-conference dinner at the govenor’s mansion. The Arkansas governor’s mansion sits on eight and a half acres in the heart of the historic Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock. Since 1950, the three-story Georgian-Colonial has served as the official residence for numerous Arkansas governors and their families. Members strolled through the mansion’s gardens on their way to the ballroom for a three course dinner prepared using local ingredients and herbs from the mansion herbary. The herb garden is tended by members of the Arkansas Unit. A focal point of the ballroom is the seal of the state of Arkansas inlaid in the wood floor, laser cut and fashioned from the wood of 15 trees native to Arkansas.

Plans are underway for the next annual conference, which will be held in June 2018 in historic Tarrytown, New York.