An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

January 15, 2010

Bloom Day: Walled Gardens

Before we begin our monthly Bloom Day post, I would like to invite anyone who hasn't done so already to please make whatever donation you can to the beleaguered people of Haiti. This deforested country is home to the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere and was just now beginning to recover from multiple hurricanes in 2008. Now the people who had close to nothing have even less and the best way you can help is with financial aid. On my sidebar you will see a link to the International Committee of the Red Cross which is who I chose to donate to, but if you prefer a different organization, this link will give you 20 other choices.

Now on with the blooms. Most of what I have blooming in my own garden has either been frozen or was seen last month, or both. So I thought we would take this opportunity to visit some of Norfolk's unique walled gardens. They offer a more protected environment and offer a rare collection of plants.

At the first garden, I was amazed by this Sunflower (Helianthus annus). Though this plant is known for its great size, this particular specimen was overwhelming.

Helianthus annuus

Another substantial bloom was coming from these Crocus giganteum. Isn't it a shame that this lovely scene is ruined by some thoughtless person and their litter.

Crocus giganteum

In the next garden someone was growing some unidentified Cucurbit, and whatever it turns out to be, the gardener should be prepared to offer the fruit some sort of support.

Unknown Cucurbit

Of course even with all of the walls, some little varmint may manage to get in and chew up someone's efforts.

Garden Pest

The next walled garden had a chain-link fence on one side in hopes of keeping the little critters at bay.

Magnolia Garden Fence

I have always said that Magnolia grandiflora was one of my favorite trees - but in other people's yards where the fragrance can be enjoyed from afar, but the mess stays put.

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora 2

The gardener here swore that his Magnolia produced little mess at all.

Magnolia Garden Photo 1

Do you see anything unusual about this portrait of the gardener and his family? I'll give you a hint - you may need your glasses.

Magnolia Garden Photo 2

In the next garden, measures were taken beyond a mere chain link fence, this gardener installed a security camera to watch over his tasty Grapes (Vitis vinifera).

Vitis vinifera

Vitis vinifera 2

Of course not all gardens are for fruits or flowers. This walled garden had a nice water feature that included exotic fish. My wife tells me that one of our good friends' son was the original gardener here.

Aquatics Asst.

Since walled gardens offer a little more protection from the elements, many gardeners push the zone limits to extremes, as is the case with this Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera).

Cocos nucifera 1

Also thriving in a special micro-climate was an Orchid (Phalaenopsis amboinensis) that took on tree-like proportions.

Phalaenopsis amboinensis 2

Phalaenopsis amboinensis 1

Here in the States we refer to gardeners as having green thumbs, and in England they are allowed even more digits, posessing green fingers. These days it seems as if everyone is jumping on the "go green" wagon. The walled gardener below (who wishes to only be known as Frank) was so horticulturally accomplished that his entire body was turning green.


If any part of your body is green and you would like to share it..... no, on second thought let's not. However, if you have any blooms that you would like to share, be they walled or otherwise, please join other gardeners for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted exceptionally as usual by Carol of May Dream Gardens.

(BTW, Please stop back by early next week as I will be celebrating my second blogging anniversary by throwing a party - with door prizes.)


  1. Thanks for having the Haiti donation available, Les. I knew a kind blogger would have it so I could help. Your wall is wonderful, way to use your noggin to come up with blooms. I tried to tell what was odd about the photo, but could only come up with the hairdos?

  2. These are completely, utterly fantastic. That sunflower in the first shot deserves to be my desktop wallpaper. I'll smile for the rest of the day!

  3. Ha! What a fun bloom day! Geez, I love these murals. When I find a wall I'm coming back to 'borrow' some ideas. I think the grape one was my favorite but they are all super!

    Such a tragedy in Haiti.

  4. Hope your Haiti appeal helps, Les!

    Great job on the GBBD

  5. Les, I couldn't find anything odd either...Were you teasing us? I love them tho and so wish a kind painter would paint a few sunflower and vines on my brick walled house!

    Thank you for the link for donations to Haite...The destruction and loss of life is almost beyond comprehension,


  6. What a wonderfully delightful, imaginative way to do GBBD in January in Virginia!!!
    ... Connie

  7. Amen to giving to Haitian relief.
    As for your walled gardens...we just drove by Daevid's on our way to the museum, but where are the others? What wonderful artwork.

  8. Very clever post, Les.

    My opinion of those who litter is not that they are thoughtless. Their thoughts are to show their contempt those who try to make the surroundings better. I was standing near the highway in front of my house one day when a woman threw a large paper cup out the car window right in front of me. I was too stunned to get the tag number.

  9. Very clever. And what an amazing array of murals that were accessible to you to shoot.

  10. WONDERFUL! We're in the same area, sort of. I feel so un-creative now!

  11. What has happened in Haiti is horrific. Thank you for the links.

    Those paintings are amazing! Who is the artist or artists, do you know?

  12. Maybe I should paint my fence. I write a lot on family photos, so maybe those should be staring at me as I weed. Or not. I wish every building with ugly cinder block walls would painta lovely mural on teh side--something simple and tasteful and not busy. We have so many of these here in Lincoln (ugly walls). Maybe the huge grain elevators could join in?

  13. Wonderful murals Les! I think it is odd to see through the hand that is held up... the other hand looks a bit odd too. It is great that you link to the page that offers way to help Haiti! When will they ever have peace? How much they have suffered over the decades. I hope we can all dig in our pockets and send help their way. You can also call your reps and ask that those Haitians visiting here now may stay longer ... until there is more stability in Haiti. To extend their visit in a safe haven. Carol

  14. VERY fun---the perfect Friday garden tour. Thanks, Les!

  15. Great murals for brightening a gloomy day. Very fun, even the rabbit.

  16. Les, clever bloom day post. Yes, we gave to the people of Haiti through both of kids' Catholic schools. They are doing t-shirt days to raise money. Thanks for the link. We must do all we can to help.~~Dee

  17. Such talent displayed on humble wall. I love the flora and the human interest here.
    Thanks for the links for Haiti. Such a sad catastrophe, I hope we can all help, even in some small way if possible. My heart goes out to those affected.

  18. Very clever! I love it. Great post! So I wonder if there was a newborn in that family portrait would they be wearing glasses too?

  19. Great take on Bloom Day. Your city certainly knows how to decorate the walls.

  20. Frances,
    Keep reading, I think someone from the Northwest has discovered it.

    You are welcome to appropriate the sunflower.

    The grapes are from one of our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood.

    Thank you!

    As I said to Frances, keep reading you will get it.

    I worked all day in the yard with temps in the 50's and actually found things blooming. However the wall was a done deal.

    The Magnolia series came from a drive through convenience store in Park Place. The grapes are from Fellinis restaurant. The water garden and melon shots are from upper Colley Ave. The sunflower and crocus are from a building in Ghent and Frank and the coconut are from a party supply store in Ghent.

    Nell Jean,
    I think litterers should be made to pick up on the highways and work in landfills without gloves.

    For a time this form of art was quite common in the city, but many have fallen to development. Not all of them were great cultural losses.

    Please don't feel that way.

    Sweet Bay,
    I guess I should have looked for signatures on the paintings, but the only one I know of is the son of a friend of ours.

    Maybe you should start a trend.

    Thanks for you thoughts, especially on Haiti.

    I am glad you had fun.

    I am glad you liked the rabbit.

    Yes these humble walls have been transformed.

    I am trying to get my son to start a fund at his school where the kids can donate their allowances for a month or two.

    Congratulations, you figured out the oddity of the painting. Everyone of them has a pair of glasses on their face, except for the person in the portrait hanging over them.


  21. Pam,
    I wish more of the walls around here were so decorated.


  22. Hilarity! Hey, when the plants are less show-stopping in the winter, art can tide us over. Lucky you to have such fun murals around. Is the secret that they are all wearing glasses, except the grandmother and the guy in the framed picture? Thanks for the Haiti links, I have heard good things about Doctors Without Borders as they will sometimes go where the Red Cross can't or won't. My kid's 1st grade class was brainstorming today about how to help, so I hope all this outpouring of aid really gets to the people who need it most! Happy Bloom Day.

  23. Those are all just fantastic. Can't imagine painting it. I like the photo with everyone wearing glasses! And I'm a sunflower fan for sure.

    Giant orchids are cool.

    If I was owner, I'd keep a security camera on it too. I wondered how he kept graffiti free. You've always got the most interesting stuff. Just love how you view the world. Thanks Les

  24. Thanks fo rputting the spirit of fun into bloom day.

  25. Great way to enjoy winter flowers. Murals are one of my daughter's favorite things to take pictures of.

  26. Hey Les, Gardening With Confidence ™ garden blog has moved to a new location. In doing so, I will have the ability to do more fun things I changed the design while I was at it to keep the same look as my website Please make note of my new location and update your blogroll (if you please.) H.

  27. Karen,
    Glad I could give you a lift. Yes the glasses are the secret, but even grandma wears a pair. Maybe I should have made the picture larger so it was more evident.

    Thanks for stopping by. I should have showed more pictures of the sunflower wall. There were several painted, one with a bee and the bottom was covered with the crocus.

    You are quite welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

    I like how the murals go right over hinges, utility panels, doors, etc...

    Changes are noted, did you change your name too?


  28. You have just done more for Norfolk than the chamber of commerce. What a great feature for bloom day!