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.

May 20, 2010

Art in the Park

This past Saturday instead of cleaning house, fixing the front porch, finishing the foyer painting or any of the other things I should have done - I opted instead to enjoy the supremely beautiful weather at the Stockley Gardens Arts Festival. This event happens in May and again in October and is a fundraiser for The Hope House Foundation. Hope House helps mentally disabled adults live in their own homes and maintain a level of independence they would never enjoy institutionally. There were about 150 artists showing and selling their work, and the range of art is always vast, with the quality high.

Beside professional art, they always leave space for high school art students, and I find it interesting seeing where their heads are. There is music throughout the day, festival foods are offered, the Norfolk Master Gardeners hold a pretty good plant sale and Hope House brings lots of treasures from their thrift store. All of this is held under the live oaks at Stockley Gardens, a park in Norfolk's Ghent neighborhood. I always come away wishing I had more money and more creativity.

Stockley Gardens Arts Festival May 2010 (11)

Stockley Gardens Arts Festival May 2010

There are other tree species in the park including this Catalpa which caught my eye. I do not know if it was Catalpa speciosa or C. bignonioides. The flowers have always reminded me of orchids.

Stockley Gardens Catalpa Tree

Stockley Gardens Catalpa Tree 3

Stockley Gardens Catalpa Tree 2

The next two pictures can be seen from a different perspective over at CIO Photo, a photo blog from David, another Hampton Roads blogger. The first picture is here...Stockley Gardens Arts Festival May 2010 (10)

... and this one is here. Sometimes paths cross.Stockley Gardens Arts Festival May 2010 (3)

Overlooking Stockley Gardens for nearly a century is Christ and St. Lukes Episcopal, and lately it has been able to overlook yet another mass planting of Knock Out Roses. Is any one else worried that this may become the new Red Tip Photinia or Bradford Pear?Stockley Gardens Knock Out Roses

After the art show I walked along the Hague and caught this Yellow Crowned Night Heron striking poses while he rests up from his recent trip from points south. This bird is listed on many state's threatened lists, but I have also read that lately it is taking a cue from the Canada Goose and adapting to urban and suburban locations. Adapt or decline, right?

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) 2

I apologize for not having any photos of the art or artist, but people can be really prickly about taking pictures of their pictures. Perhaps next time I'll take my point-and-shoot for less intrusive photography.


  1. Knockouts may be a little over used but I still think they're just wonderful. Those are some love shots as always. -- Randy

  2. I thought that was an orange tree, the one you said was a Catalpa . I particularly like the shot of the New Testament in the ziploc bag on the bench, and that you were drawn to photograph it. I love how God shows me things simple like that. Someone was protecting what really matters. Very nice post,thanks, Gina

  3. I like Knockouts but they are overused, and with RRD around mass plantings of roses aren't a very smart thing to do.

    I love the shot of the Night Heron. Good idea to go to the festival rather than do chores.

  4. Les, beautiful setting and wonderful cause! I love the Catalpa - when we were growing up we called it a cigar tree, and I won't tell you what we tried to do once. ;)

  5. I've noticed Knockouts are being extremely overused like Lirope & Stella d'ora Daylillies in commercial plantings now. But they are low maintenance and bloom beautifully for months so I do understand why. Great shots, thanks for sharing your excursion with us. :)

  6. Great shots, as always. Looks like much more fun than cleaning the house!

  7. I've never seen a catalpa's flower. You are right -- it does resemble an orchid.

  8. May I use your catalpa photos (with credit) on my blog?

  9. Some great photos Les. Its pretty cool that we choose some similar scenes to photograph at the same event. I enjoyed going back to Saturday through you eyes.

  10. R and J,
    I love the Knock Out too, but I know what has happened when things get over-planted.

    That was an orange tree, it was being sold by the Norfolk Master Gardeners. They wanted $300 for it!

    Sweet Bay,
    You can't see it from the photo, but the roses are underplanted with New Gold Lantana. It should be quite something when all of it matures.

    My grandfather did try smoking them when he was young and got terribly ill. I think that is why he never smoked and thought less of people who did.

    I shouldn't complain as I guess the landscapers could be using Japanese Hollies or something else just as boring.

    It was better than cleaning.

    You are welcome to use them.

    This was the first spring show I have been to in ages, I usually have to work. Needless to say I was gald to be there.


  11. i didn't do more than skim through this for now but will come back to comment in detail later. i just wanted to say, i love michael dirr ! i wrote him an emotional card after my mother passed away, talking up the relation of plants to my memories of her and the following spring, and he responded with the most lovely words. now if only i could find and scan his card to me, i would have a wonderful blog post in the works as per some scanning.

  12. What a beautiful tree in your first photo Les! I love the Catalpa too and your Heron shot is fabulous!! Sounds like you had a lovely day!

  13. Yes, Knockouts are used a lot here too, but I understand why. They are really easy. Thanks for the tour of the art fair. I loved the holy book too.~~dee

  14. The plant sale under the oaks sure caught my attention. I'm on my way out now to a Middle Tennessee Plant Swap and hope so find some good things. This is my kind of day!

  15. Garden Harlot,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You are welcome to browse later.

    Thank you! I missed another bird photo op today as we drove my a great white egret rookery.

    I agree with you on the knockouts and I am glad they are around. They have changed many a novice gardener's mind on roses.

    I hope you find some treasures.


  16. The problem with Knock Out is not the plant, it creative people using it. There are so many wonderful combinations that can take a good plant and make it an experience. It's all about the echo as Pamela Harper points out in "Color Echoes:Harmonizing Color in the Garden".

    It is the difference between a breast of chicken and Supremes de Volaille sous Cloche. Imagine the possibilities!

  17. I figured you have so many plant pictures because you're trying to make your own art--or because you're trying to distract yourself from not having enough $ to buy some art. I love art fares and festivals, but they always happen when it's 90 outside.

  18. These are great and beautiful photos! You did a great job in capturing the beauty outside.

  19. Didn't realize I missed two postings of yours. According to my new tree book Catalpa bignonioides has shorter points on the leaves and smaller flowers with more purple dots. They also open two weeks later, have thinner pods and scaly bark. So..... see, easy peasy.
    Saw lots of Catalpa this past week....speciosa or bignonioides?? Who knows?