My Time With Oprah

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

With the recent retirement of Oprah Winfrey after 25 incredible years, I got to reminiscing about my time with her as one of Smalls Landscaping’s Clients. As a lot of folks know that Oprah was a client of ours, I have been often asked:

What Was it Like to Work for Oprah?
She was great to work for! Very straight forward – pretty much what you saw on television. She was a great client for 16 years before she moved.

What is My Favorite Oprah Story?
I can think of two. One really memorable moment is when I went into her house at “The Farm” to ask her a question. When I arrived she was watching TV and crying. There was no one in the house but her. I sat down next to her. She was watching her own show about child abuse and we hugged each other.

She also made me feel really special the one time I went to see her show in Chicago. I went with her Godmother Rosalyn and we parked in the “VIP” lot and were met by her bodyguard. He guided us through all the touch pad doors and we went into where the taping is done. Her staff then made several people move out of their seats and we sat down. When Oprah came out she walk over to us and we talked for a while. Then she turned around and started the show. We were right behind her, so we were on TV! Everyone stared and asked “Who are you!” It was a lot of fun and very memorable!

What Did Oprah Like in Her Yard and Garden?
Oprah loved flowers, waves of perennials, and grasses for year round color and texture. We installed about a mile of running paths throughout the property for her to jog. She used to jog on the road, but too many people were paying her notice so she wanted something more private. We also planted over 32,000 tulips on her property!

What Did You Learn from Working with Her?
I learned that it does not matter if you are worth a large amount of money – Everything is in perspective. I have much respect and I am happy for everyone who has accomplished self-worth, whether monetarily and/or spiritually. Congratulations! People are people, and everyone loves beautiful yards and gardens!

For Those Without Oprah’s Big Budget, What are Some Things that Anyone Can Do to Improve the Beauty of their Yards and Gardens?
There are four things that always make the best design – greenery, height, color, and fluff. Greenery is needed for winter color and interest. With the long winters, grasses, boxwoods, spruces, pines and firs are a must that can anchor the landscape year round and provide privacy in many cases. Height will bring the home into its own space. I will add a tree or evergreen to give a visual stopping point to where you are looking. For example, if you look out the window every day and see the neighbor’s blank wall or shed, a tree will not only block the eyesore, but also give you the visual stopping point of the beautiful tree as well as the color and fluff in front of it. Color and fluff are the final elements of a great design. It is very important to select just the right plants for each design. The flow of the design is finished with the plants that not just bloom, but have textures or leaves with color. Some designs may be all in greenish hues, with slightly different colors of green and just the right amount of flowers or leaf colors to make them “pop”. The initial conversations and “homework” time we spend with our clients dictates what is used in the design, as everyone has their own personal desires and needs. Do these 4 things, even on a small budget and you too can have a beautiful yard and garden like Oprah’s!

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