Archive for Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Area gardener shares expertise with ‘Midwest Living’ readers

March 15, 2000

Nancy Smith's gardening endeavors interest more than just her 300 newsletter subscribers.

Smith, her historical gardens and her quarterly newsletter about old-fashioned ornamental plants will be featured in the May/June edition of Midwest Living.

Scheduled for a late-April appearance on newsstands, the issue will include a seven-page article about the Leavenworth County gardener and her "Back in Thyme" newsletter and gardens.

Smith, whose husband, Richard, has an accounting office in Tonganoxie, said she has previewed the Midwest Living story written by Debora Wiley.

"She did a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of what we're trying to do," Smith said. "She connected with the farmstead."

Smith is a journalist herself. She earned a master's degree in journalism in 1975 from the University of Kansas and from 1983 to 1995 she worked as features editor at the Lawrence Journal-World.

So it was interesting for her to be interviewed, rather than interviewing.

Roy Inman, a Kansas City, Mo., photographer, began taking photographs last May of the gardens at the Smiths' 1875 farmhouse, 24874 Linwood Rd. He made several return trips to catch all of the flowers in bloom.

Smith began writing the newsletter about five years ago.

"It started as a bi-monthly publication," Smith said. "But I needed more time to do research, and as time passed I began to make more public presentations, so to preserve the necessary research time, I went to a quarterly."

She now has 300 subscribers in about 25 states who pay $20 a year to receive the 14-page newsletter.

Smith, of course, edits the newsletter and paginates it herself. Her husband helps not only with the printing of it, but with nearly every aspect of the business as well, she said.

An open house is planned for the last week in May at her gardens, and Smith said a few varieties of old-fashioned plants would be for sale at that time.

She spends quite a bit of time these days giving presentations to garden or history groups in Kansas and Missouri, as well as researching garden history.

"A lot of it's primary research because it's a fairly new field," Smith said.

The focus of her farmstead gardens is a large rectangular garden within a rectangle and a walkway surrounding the area. Various types of herbs fill the center garden and old-fashioned roses draw attention to the outer garden.

The garden is still under development, Smith said. But she hopes that by seeing it, visitors will learn more about the historic value of ornamental plants and gather resources for their own gardens at home.

Sometimes people don't realize that they already have old-fashioned flowers growing in their yards, Smith said. Some of these might include some of the columbines, iris and peonies, all of which traditionally fare well in this climate.

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