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.

February 19, 2012

Winter Walk-Off 2012

Last year I had so much fun with my Winter Walk-Off Challenge and was delighted with the great response.  I heard from bloggers across the globe (including a couple from the Southern Hemisphere where it became a summer walk-off ), as well as from right here at home. At the end of the challenge last year I knew I wanted it to become an annual event, and now it is time.
Here is how the challenge works:
  1. On your own two feet, leave the house and share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home.  Your post does not have to be about gardening or a travelogue, unless you want it to be.  Maybe instead you will find some unusual patterns, interesting shadows, signs of spring, a favorite restaurant or shop, questionable landscaping or local eyesores.  Whatever, just keep your eyes and mind open, be creative and have fun, but don't show anything from your own garden.
  2. Post your own Winter Walk Off on your blog, and link it back to this post.  Please also leave me a comment when your post is up.  If you have recently written a similar post, you are welcome to use it.
  3. I will keep the challenge open until midnight on March 19th, the last day of winter (or summer for those of you below the equator).
  4. Everyone who participates will have a chance to win one of two prizes, with a totally disinterested teenager randomly drawing the names.  One person will win a collection of packaged seeds to grow some of my favorite vines, and the other winner will be sent some of my wife's handcrafted note cards.  I will contact the two winners and mail the prizes. 
I hope these guidelines are simple enough and that you will participate.

Last week I had planned my own Walk-Off to show some of the many Camellias that were in bloom throughout my neighborhood. However, Mother Nature had other plans. This past Monday morning's low of 22°F (-5.5°C) has made most of them much less photogenic, but just for the time being. With those plans thwarted, I took advantage of Friday morning's foggy weather.  My first stop was the fishing pier underneath the Granby St. bridge on the Lafayette River.

Willow Wood Bridge

River Steps

Under the Bridge (2)

From the top of the bridge I had a bird's eye view of a pelican.

Pelican Posts

Despite flowing through one of Virginia's most urban areas, the Lafayette can still look a little wild along its edges.

To the River



The Lafayette was once famous for its oysters, but that was a very long time ago. Today there are several efforts going on that aim to restore the bivalve, and the blue sign below is warning you to stay away. Apparently they can be quite dangerous during the restoration process.

Danger, Oysters

My neighborhood is a peninsula with the Lafayette forming the northern boundary, and Haven Creek the eastern. The newish apartments in the picture below were built on the site of the old Lafayette Yacht Club. Long, long ago my wife's family were members so they could use the pool, and because this yacht club didn't mind having Jewish members, African Americans were probably another story. It is sometimes difficult to believe that such distinctions were ever a concern.

Haven Creek (2)

During last year's walk-off I mentioned the living shoreline being created along Haven Creek, and now it is 99% complete. I will probably do a post on it in the future once the plants fill in a bit. The string is meant to keep the Canada geese from pulling up the Spartina plugs.

Haven Creek

Speaking of geese, these were seen on the west side of my neighborhood along Knitting Mill Creek. I wish they would fly to Canada and stay.


Haven Creek is home to many boats, and with fuel prices being what they have been many of these have been idle for years.

Tidewater Yacht Club

These three derelicts all covered in tarps just need to be put out of their misery.

Three Derelicts

This boat pictured below is aptly named Problem Child, and it sank during Hurricane Irene. The dock master was not happy with the boat's owner over a previous, physical altercation, for unpaid dock fees and with the fact the boat was not re-floated in a timely manner after the storm. To the owner's credit he did pump out the oil and fuel, but that did not stop the dock master from posting a big sign for the world to see that said "polluting and no one cares", this in an effort to get the owner motivated. Several of the powers-that-be determined it was not leaking. When the sign didn't work to motivate anyone, the dock master and his assistant apparently tossed beer bottles filled with oil into the sunken boat to spur some kind of action on the part of the local authorities. The dock master's actions resulted in his own arrest.


You wouldn't know it, but the white house below is one of the oldest in this part of Norfolk and was probably built in the late 1700's. Next to it there is little indication of where the street ends and the boat ramp begins. Several inattentive or inebriated drivers have ended up in the creek over the years.

45th St.

I will end this year's walk-off with a few less dramatic pictures from Knitting Mill Creek.

Moss and Lichens

Baccharis (2)

Baccharis (3)


Again, I hope you will participate in my Winter Walk-Off Challenge, and if you do, keep in mind the guidelines are flexible, and remember to have some fun with it.


  1. Thank you; your posts are always so interesting and well-written that I feel as if I've been walking along with you. (That stairway did me in!:-)

    Love all the lichens and mosses on the tree and the pelican.

  2. As one who spent time in this area years ago, I loved sharing your walk with my morning coffee. The boat-owner story was excellent verbal illustration!

    Pam in CO

  3. Foggy dreart day portrayed beautifully. Love the water when it is foggy...adds to the mystery. That dockmaster sure got Karma back in his face.
    Will be back with a post for my walk.

  4. How lucky you are to live in such a beautiful area! Count me in for the walk off!

  5. Appreciate the pelican. Quite an intersting collection of characters on your waterfront.

  6. Fun walk you took us on. I'll get to the walk-off eventually.

    Meanwhile I think I misled you about Lantana. L. montevidensis is perennial here. In the open garden it dies back to the ground and emerges when the weather warms again. Under mature pines it stays somewhat green and blooms when it feels like it. I put some in pots in the greenhouse over in the back corner to have some starts for a new spot in earliest spring. It is growing very well back there.

    Lantana camara -- the gold -- dies to the ground but will be back soon as well.

  7. I think honestly your beautiful photos of the water surrounding your area top camellia blooms any day. I so miss the ocean.

  8. I thought I recognized that bridge! This is a great idea but I'm afraid the furthest I'll get on foot until all the snow and ice melts is the door of the truck. I have a talent for falling off my shoes and cane when the ground is dry. me and ice DO NOT mix, especially with a few thousand bucks worth of camera gear hanging off my body:-)

  9. My post for the Winter Walk-off 2012 challenge is up today. Here is a link:

    I have a really hard time with this new word verification system that Blogger is using. I can already tell that I can't read one of the words below.

  10. I love the gnarly tree, and of course any post with so many shots of water and boats is going to make me happy. Mind you, there is something so sad about a neglected boat, let alone a partially sunk one. A friend of ours currently has custody of our old wooden boat, but I think even he has found it too much of a challenge to restore. Will post a winter walk post in due course.

  11. Les,Count me in for the Winter Walk-Off 2012. I loved learning more about your neighborhood and look forward to sharing mine.

  12. Sandy,
    The stairway did me in too. I was on the middle of it and did not expect to see anyone else down there when a black plastic trash bag started blowing around. Just for a moment it startled me.

    I am glad you came along. That boat story is hard to believe, yet true.

    I like the way the fog had a way of substracting color from the landscape making everything monotone. I will look forward to your walk photos.

    I'll put you on the list. Thanks!

    When you live somewhere long enough there are stories everywhere, and lots of characters.

    Thanks for the lantana explanation. I guess what I was wondering was why you had it in the greenhouse when it was hardy for you, but now you answered it. More plants! I look forward to your entry in the walk-off.

    Tough call for me - seascape or camellia? Maybe that's why I live here so I can enjoy both.

    The board of directors at A Tidewater Gardener have been known to bend the rules for walk-off participants on a case by case basis. God knows they have done enough bending themselves, you should seen them at the company Christmas party. So do what you can if you want to.

    Thank you, and congratulations on being the first entry in this year!

    I think a certain portion of my blood is salt water, and I couldn't imagine living far from the coast. About your boat, we have a saying here about boats beeing holes in the water into which one pours money. I am sure that works in England too. I will await your walk-off post.

    I look forward to seeing your new neighborhood.


  13. Hi Les, Your Winter Walk-off is always a fun challenge. I am a bit overwhelmed just now having only returned from a trip, but will make an effort to participate before the March deadline.
    Your post is a great stored winter walk-off. Love the stairway image and the shot of the pelican in particular. You may get your wish on the Canada geese. Fewer of them fly south now and opt to spend the winter here in southern Ontario.

  14. Lovely photos! I really would try those walks and taking of pictures. It looks like it was fun. I love the photos. Great job!

  15. I'm glad to see your winter walk is spreading. it's horribly icy here in Maine - not the best walking weather. I love that you can walk to see pelicans.

  16. Excellent walk:) I could drink tea reading a book here. Love the misty wet rainy weather. Beautiful.

  17. Les,
    You should publish a book of your photos. Every post!

  18. Hi Les,

    I just nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award. Please check out my blog for details.


  19. Hey Les, my post is up. Come and visit!

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Les, it's wonderful. Thank you. I loved the gray in the images. I'll try to do a winter walk at my house. I may not make the contest time, but that's fine. Loved your stories of Problem Child and the old club.~~Dee

  22. I love the gray and foggy images. And your pelican at eye view, along with the boats. You have great scenery within walk distance.

  23. You've inspired me to dust off the camera. Sign me up, I'm going in!

  24. Les, I am adding Bark in the Park, but I have a series of park walks coming up.Just thought to get in as early as possible.

  25. Great scenes, great stories, great place to live it always seems to me.

  26. Jennifer,
    I am glad you are considering participating. I was particularly pleased with the pelican photo also. I should get a zoom lens, one day.

    Garden Sheds,
    You should, you should!

    Historically you would not see pelicans here, but they have expanded their range, and I am glad.

    Thanks for the high praise.

    Thank you for the nomination. I am flattered.

    I so glad you joined in. Thank you!

    I do hope you will find the time to play along. When you live somewhere long enough, stories are written everywhere.

    I look forward to reading your entry. Thanks for joining in!

    Glad you have been inspired. Maybe you can share when you are done.

    I like it here quite well.


  27. Here is Annie's entry:

  28. Les, Enjoyed your winter walk in the fog and mist. Here is my entry:

  29. I meant to participate last year, I don't know what kept me from following through...this year, I'm in!

  30. Wonderful fog you're having. Nothing like owning a boat to turn grand dreams of adventure into despair over upkeep, maintenance, slip fees. I had a mini winter walk-off today and hope to do another before the cutoff.

  31. Hi Les,
    I just learned about your blog and Winter Walk Off from Denise over at A Growing Obsession. I'm in!! (or will be soon. Too windy to shoot today.) Also, love your photos. Any tips on shooting in the fog? I live in Laguna Beach and we either have bright, sunshine or socked-in marine layer fog.

  32. A lovely idea, and I'm happy to participate. Thanks for the inspiration of your beautiful photos.

  33. Nice post of all that fog, and a great idea, so I decided to throw-in for my area of Abq NM. I even lucked out and it was cloudy.

    It's a big one -

  34. I may have gone a little overboard with mine!

  35. Thanks for hosting this again, Les...thanks for giving me a reason to get out in my neighborhood!

  36. Yeah, you gotta beware those baby oysters! The dockmaster doesn't sound like the sharpest tool in the shed.

    Your pictures in this post look very wintry. I bet there's a big difference already.

    I was inspired by Queen Janet to do my own walk challenge:

  37. Part I of my Winter Walk Off is up. Part II come Friday.

  38. I am afraid I do not know how to post the pictures to this
    email me ? at
    thanks :)
    I have sooo enjoyed your photos!

  39. Glad to participate again!

  40. Here's part II Les:

  41. Hi Les, I am in right under the wire!

  42. hi les, just in the nick of time, here's my winter walk-off entry: thanks for the challenge, it was great fun.

  43. Thank you all for your comments and for playing along. I should have the Winter Walk-Off Wrap-Up posted in the next day or two.

  44. What a wonderful idea, a walk around your area. I've come to this too late for this year, but now I'm looking forwar dto next!