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.

July 15, 2011

Fourth Annual Citywide Townwide Bloomday

It is a July tradition here at A Tidewater Gardener to showcase the city's glorious Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) trees.  It's not that we are the only place that can grow them, it's just that they grow so damn well here and are Norfolk's dominant street tree.  That being said, this month I have bent even more, some already bent Bloom Day rules. We will travel a little further up the Chesapeake and look at the Crape Myrtles in the small harbor town of Onancock.

Onancock straddles two forks of a deep creek by the same name on the bay side of Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore.  Its unusual and often mispronounced name (oh-NAN-cock) comes from its first inhabitants, the native Americans, and meant "foggy place".  Though, it was quite sunny when I took these pictures.  The town is fairly historic, is filled with notable architecture and has always been a low key, yet busy place.  The creek and bay beyond were historically its source of wealth as watermen and farmers shipped the region's bounty to larger markets.  Onancock was chartered in 1680 and quietly tended to its own business until being "discovered" only recently.  Now there are art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and other businesses that cater to the weekend trade and the sailing set.

We will start our tour at the town square, then we'll head to Cokesbury Church and then down Market Street.
Town Square

Cokesbury Church

W&W Emporium

Market Street (2)

W&W Emporium (3)


Market Street

Ker Place (2)

King Street
King Street

North Street
North Street

Liberty Street
Liberty Street

Holly Street
Holly Street

Kerr Street
Kerr Street

The most noteworthy house in town is Ker Place, which was built in 1799 and is now the home of the Eastern Shore Historical Society.  To see the Crape Myrtles there we will have to look a little...
Ker Place (6)

Ker Place (7)

Ker Place

and out the door to an allée of Crape Myrtles.
Ker Place (3)

Ker Place (5)

Ker Place (4)

I hope you have enjoyed this Bloom Day tour of Onancock, and if you would like to see what is blooming in other places, then you should visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  On the 15th of each month, she gathers blooms from gardens all over the globe and shares them with the rest of us.  When you see her tell her thank you.


  1. Definetly the bread n' butta of southern blooms.

  2. Oh what wonderful photos. Photographing them with the homes/buildings was a perfect idea because it ties Crepe myrtle into southern architecture as it should be. My favorite is against the church with steeple.

  3. What a simply gorgeous town you live in! Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing with us.
    Happy GBBD :)

  4. What a beautiful series, Les! Thanks for the tour. I haven't been to Onancock in years.

  5. You have some really beautiful shots here of lovely crape myrtles. I hear they are hard to grow here in the PNW. So bright! I love the one with the flowers in front of the old weathered building with pealing paint.

  6. Thank you for the photos. They're a real treat. The trees set off the architecture so beautifully.

  7. aloha,

    love the townwide blooms, looks like everyone love crepe myrtles...i do too!

  8. Such a Southern treat. I love the architecture and the way the Crepe Myrle framed the views. I would not mind moving, you are a great salesman for the area.

  9. great idea les. crape myrtles are blooming all over my town as well, and i was just yesterday thinking i should document them. way to bend the rules... i think i did for my gbbd post too.

  10. So amazing to see for one who can only imagine how wonderful they would be in my garden... if only they were hardy here! l

  11. How lovely, the trees compliment the wooden-faced buildings particularly well. Must make people walk around with smiles on their faces while they are in bloom (the trees, not the people. With the smiling. Though I suppose the romantically inclined might describe trees as smiling when the blossom. OK, shutting up now...)

  12. A nice tribute to my favorite summer blooming tree. :)

  13. So lovely - I love the creative way you show them. Ours are looking good and I need to get out and take some photos.

  14. Looks like a lovely historic town. There's nothing quite like Crape Myrtles for toughness and beauty.

  15. Hi Les, I, for one, am glad that you broke the rules. Crape Myrtles don't grow here and so it is a treat to see them in bloom. I notice everyone seems to have a different favourite photo in the comments. Mine is the picket fence. The light is just so beautiful in that shot.

  16. Les, Loved looking through the house. We can grow crape myrtles in PA now, but I don't have any. Lovely. Carolyn

  17. I like the crepe myrtles flowers that bloom all over the city. Very colorful.

    Lisa from Beginner Free Guitar Lessons

  18. Greggo,
    Meat and potatoes too.

    That shot is my favorite too. The church is not used for regular services any longer, but is a performance and meeting space. Some of the windows have a Tifanny connection.

    I live elsewhere and was just visiting, but one can always hope.

    You should revisit, it's changing.

    Crape Myrtles need a long hot, humid summer that starts pretty early. What I know of the PNW tells me it is not ideal.

    I like showing the architecture as much as the flowers. Thanks for stopping by.

    Yes they are very popular here.

    Maybe someone should nominate me regional embassador.

    Rules are ment to get bent.

    I am not sure if Crape Myrtles or modern air conditioning make living in our summers here more bearable.

    Janet UK,
    There were a few happy faces when I took the first two shots. A wedding party was having its picture taken at the gazebo in the town square. I did not intrude on their moment with my camera.

    I am glad we have that tree in common.

    Thank you!

    Onancock is similar in feel to Edenton NC.

    Thanks! I felt I needed to have one close up so the flowers could be seen as more than a blob of color.

    You should get one or two, there are several that are more cold tolerant than others.

    Thanks for stopping by!


  19. They do grow well there in Virginia. You've showcased them wonderfully.

  20. goodness! the town is so...quaint! I've never seen a town where I can use that word :)