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, 2018

Winter Walk-Off 2018

      Since 2011 I have held my Winter Walk-Off, and though I don't blog like I once did (real life taking away from on-line life), I still wanted to continue with this meme. This has been a mixed winter here. We had extreme cold, kissing the single digits, in January with a good amount of snow. We have also had temperatures in the 70's, and the forecast for Wednesday of this week is calling for 80. The only real constant this winter has been the wet, everything is soggy, including my attitude. So I take advantage of what dry days we have, and try to spend them outside; it is good for the soul. I hope you will do the same thing.

     As always, the rules are simple, the rules are flexible:

     On your own two feet, leave the house, and share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home (if you want to drive to your walk destination that's OK too). Your post does not have to be about gardening or a travelogue (though I do like both), 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.

     Post your own Winter Walk-Off on your blog, and link it back to this post. Also, please leave me a link and comment here when your post is up. If you have recently written something similar, you are welcome to recycle.

     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, who are welcome to join in).

     Normally everyone who participates has a chance to win one of two prizes. Last year, one of the winners graciously declined the prize, so instead I donated $25 to her state's chapter of the Nature Conservancy, an organization I believe in. They have done great work here in coastal Virginia. For 2018 I am going to randomly draw one name from all the participants, and I will donate $50 to their state's chapter of the Nature Conservancy. If for some reason they live somewhere without a chapter, I will find a similarly worthy organization. The winner's name will be announced in my wrap-up.

     I hope these guidelines are simple enough to sway you to join in, because the more the merrier.

*****

     For my on walk-off, I actually walked this year, instead of participating on my bike. I am now armed with a $600 knee brace (or should that be legged?), which has made getting around much less painful. I headed to Sarah Constant Beach Park in Norfolk's Ocean View neighborhood. Ocean View is sort of a misnomer, as it actually faces the Chesapeake Bay. I suppose if you crooked your head to the right, and it was a very clear day, you could indeed glimpse the Atlantic. Regardless, Ocean View is one of Norfolk's most colorful neighborhoods. It was once home to shingle-clad vacation cottages, a famous amusement park, and affordable hotels, all a pleasant trolley ride from downtown. Times change as they are wont to do, and Ocean View fell on hard times. Today it is making a comeback with new houses, condos, restaurants, and retail, while still keeping its color.

     One casualty of all this development are many of the area's live oaks (Quercus virginiana). When I was a child we would regularly travel from our home in Richmond to the Eastern Shore, and before the interstate was finished we had to take Ocean View Ave. to get through Norfolk. We didn't have live oaks in Richmond, and there were very few on the Eastern Shore. Even as a kid I marveled at their massive trunks, and at the way those in Ocean View all grew facing away from the shore and its north winds. Those old cottages were built up to the edge of the dunes on long skinny lots, with live oaks growing between the house and Ocean View Ave. With many of the cottages gone, and lots split up or consolidated, the oaks have not fared well. However, there is still a nice grove of them at Sarah Constant Beach Park.

Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) (1)

Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) (4)

Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) (2)

Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) (3)

     This is a harsh environment for anything to grow, but Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) actually does better here in the sandy soil, than it would in something richer.
Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii)

     No problem for our native yucca (Yucca filamentosa) either.
Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

     The Ocean View Fishing Pier is very popular in-season. I enjoy having beverages there, watching the sunset, and spotting for dolphins when the weather is warm. Good people watching too.
Ocean View Fishing Pier (1)

Ocean View Fishing Pier (2)

Ocean View Fishing Pier (3)

Ocean View Beach (2)

Ocean View Beach (1)

     Right next to the pier is another Ocean View institution, the Thirsty Camel. January was hard on the palmettos (Sabal palmetto) next door. With rare exceptions, and despite no lack of trying, I think these palms are just really expensive annuals here.
The Thirsty Camel (1)

The Thirsty Camel (2)

The Thirsty Camel (3)

     Thanks for walking with me. I hope I will be able to look over your shoulder when you take your own Winter Walk-Off.

27 comments:

  1. The Opuntia at the Thirsty Camel seem quite happy! Love the sandy shots, it's been over a year since we've been to the beach. I need to change that! Probably not in time for a winter walk-off post though...

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    1. Judging from the rest of the landscape around the Thirsty Camel, I think Opuntia is a really good choice. I half expected the pads to have that shrunken deflated look you often see during winter, but they looked good.

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  2. Those live oaks are beautiful. What age and drama they project.

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    1. Linda, in the summer the oaks are the setting for many family picnics, and the tables the shelter are prized real estate.

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  3. That Japanese Black Pine has so much character. The Yuccas and Opuntias are spectacular, too. I'm going to aim for a winter walk-off soon. Right now we're coated in ice, so I think I'll wait a few days. ;-) Thanks for hosting!

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    1. Beth, I will look forward to your post no matter the weather. One of the things I like most about black pines, at least the straight species, is that no two ever look alike.

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    2. The lake will probably be open in the next week or two, but it was still pretty frozen for my meme installment: https://plantpostings.blogspot.com/2018/03/goodbye-ice-my-winter-walk-off.html. Thanks again for hosting!

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    3. Thank you so much for joining again, Beth! I really appreciate it, and will look forward to reading your walk.

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  4. I love the structure of those gorgeous oaks. How lucky that you live so close to the beach! Love the opuntia at the Thirsty Camel. Thanks for encouraging us to get out and explore on foot! Here's my walk: http://outlawgarden.blogspot.com/2018/02/winter-walk-off-2018.html

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    1. Thanks for joining, Peter; I look forward to reading your post. I do think I am lucky to live near the coast; it suits me. When I was a student I couldn't stand sitting in the middle of the room. Give me the edge, especially a place near the door.

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  5. The oaks have such character!

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    1. That is one of the reasons I like them so much.

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  6. An interesting picture of the oaks, all facing away from the shore. I like the beach view and the pole with directions: I was happy to find the Seattle arrow on it. BTW, a popular sports bar in north Seattle is called The Thirsty Fish...

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    1. A thirsty fish may have a drinking problem.

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  7. I love everything about your posts except for their rarity. And this year I actually have a blog that kinda fits your loose description. It is from the Riverwalk in Columbus as well as a street just up the hill from the river. http://mkircus2.blogspot.com/2018/03/my-version-of-winter-walk-off.html

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    1. Hello Marilyn. I wish the posts were not so rare, but between my work, my other work, and my family - real life interferes with virtual life. Thank you for joining my Walk-Off; I will read your post very soon.

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  8. Hey Les, before anymore time goes by I need to get my post up. Love the sign post at Ocean View. Will share my link in a little bit.

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  9. Ok Les, here we are- http://thequeenofseaford.blogspot.com/2018/03/winter-walk-off-2018.html

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    1. Thank you, Janet! It wouldn't be a Walk-Off without you!

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  10. Interesting details on this post, as always. Proof our different versions of zone 8 do have something in common. Yet Sabal palmetto does well here. Your dwarfed live oaks are stunning!

    Done - https://dryheatblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/winter-walk-off-2018-v-las-cruces/

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    1. Thanks for entering, David! Yes, there are zone 8's and there are zone 8's.

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  11. Just in under the wire! (so to speak) My Winter Walk-Off is live, I hope I didn't abuse the rules too much:
    http://www.thedangergarden.com/2018/03/paris-wanderings-day-six-aka-my-winter.html

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    1. Rules - schmules. Thanks for walking with me once again, Loree!

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  12. Can't get enough of the live oak photos.
    Here's my walk-off: http://www.localecologist.org/2018/03/winter-walk-off-2018-washington-square-park.html. Glad to participate again. Thanks for hosting!
    - Georgia

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    1. Thank for walking with me again, Georgia! I look forward to seeing your entry.

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    2. You've created a nice community with the walk-offs, and am glad to participate.

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