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 19, 2010

Toga Party At Animal House (with prizes!)

Like many parts of the country Tidewater was very cold recently, but thankfully it seems to be over for now, and we were spared much of the weather others may have been enjoying (or not). The duration of the cold wore thin to Southerners who have come to expect somewhat regular interruptions of winter by sunny warmer days. In the interest of not spending money, we choose to keep our old drafty house barely warm, and certain accommodations have been made by all occupants. If you were to have stopped by for a visit on any given night in the past two and half weeks, you would have thought we were throwing a toga party. All of the humans (and occasionally the animals) in the house could be found wrapped up in blankets as we went about our evening routines; Cesar himself would have felt right at home.

Some of the Animal House residents look as if they may have passed out from draining a keg or drinking one too many Hairy Buffaloes. However, its the cold weather and not alcohol, that creates strange bedfellows and other unlikely pairings, and at least they won't wake up hungover full of regret.


Loretta and Roscoe

Penny and Loretta

The Boy and Penny

Patsy Shut

Although not a real toga party, there is cause to celebrate. Today marks the second anniversary of A Tidewater Gardener. What started as a way to channel some frustrations brought about by a criminally insane neighbor, has now blossomed into a full blown, time consuming (but enjoyably so) obsession. As a result:
  • I have gotten to know a little about and connected to many interesting people and have benefited from their experiences and knowledge.

  • I have also gotten to view some wonderful photography, enabling me to improve my own.
  • I have read some really creative writing. Obviously much of it on the surface has to do with gardening, but many of posts dig deeper, so to speak.

  • Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect about this process has been the ability to travel vicariously to new landscapes, both natural and composed, so different from my own.

I want to thank each of you for any part you had in the above and for simply stopping by. It would be great if I could be sort of like a blogging Oprah and hand each of you a toga party favor just for being in the audience, but logistically and financially, I can't. However, if you would just say hi by leaving a comment on this post before the end of the month, I will put your names in a hat to win a set (6) of my wife's handmade cards (pictured below and botanically themed of course). On the 31st I'll have an impartial and thoroughly disinterested 12 year old draw a name, I'll announce it in a post and send the cards to the winner, no matter where they live.


Once again, thank you!


  1. Recently found your blog and am really enjoying it.
    Cara,a Western Branch Gardener

  2. Love the animal closeups. Had a cat just like that until this past summer. She lived a good, long life. Also loved your 'Bloom Day' post with those incredible murals.

    Congrats on two years blogging. It is very rewarding to hear from others and visit gardens from the desk chair isn't it? Great job. Am adding you to my blogroll. Consider Buffalo in July!

  3. I love that photo of your dog and kiddo cheek by jowl. Congrats on your blogiversary. I look forward to more from the Tidewater Gardener.

  4. The pleasure has been all ours, Les! Blogging is something that we all begin with a certain set of ideas of what it will be like, and then turns into something else entirely, all for the good! It is the meeting of such friendly folks who share our passion for gardening that makes blogging so wonderful, no matter how large your space or where you live. We are all equal. Many congrats on two years, and hope to keep reading you for many more. :-)
    ps, we keep our house chilly as well and just bundle up. Long johns R US.

  5. I have enjoyed YOUR writing for a long time my electronic penpal. As for your photos, my goodness, one can only hope to do as well.
    Sweet pictures of sleeping dogs and kitties and your son. Once read 'nothing quite as innocent as a sleeping child and their dog'. How true.

  6. Glad you are staying warm. It looks like everyone down south got a taste of how the other half live. Congrats on 2 years of writing and I am enjoying your blog.

  7. Congrats on your 2nd anniversary!

  8. Les, thank you! You are indeed one of my favorite blogs to visit; your photos are always a work of art. And speaking of beagles... how they made me laugh out loud. Please tell your wife that her art work is beautiful! Congratulations!

  9. It has been a real gift finding and enjoying your blog Les! Happy Blog Birthday to you! Your photos are precious and making me sleepy! Many Happy Returns to the blogaversary! I see talent runs in your family! ;>) Carol

  10. Happy Anniversary! I am go glad that I've found your blog.

  11. Glad you're keeping at this obsession.Congrats on your anniversary.

  12. Well you don't need the cards to induce a comment, though they do look stunning. I'm happy to celebrate the existence of your blog. You write well and your photos are wonderfully set off in your blog layout.

    It's always nice to be bundled up and cozy during the wintertime. I was noticing the other day that once the temps got up to 40 degrees it felt positively spring-like compared to those days in the 20 degree range. It's all relative, but right now I'm pleased as punch to be hauling mulch when it's no longer below freezing.

  13. Happy blog anniversary Les. Your description of the Tidewater inhabitants during a cold snap sounds vaguely familiar to us all here in the Patch. Tahoe Hole in the wall or not, our "barn" gets pretty frigid in the cold Texas months, and we have had some cold weather this year. I totally relate to the "Ceaser syndrome", I really do, although here we resemble more of the "Return of the Mummy" aesthetic.

    I look forward to reading about your next two years blog adventures in your amazing and very different environment.


  14. Congratulations on your anniversary from Milton, FL. Thank you for letting me tag along on your journey.

  15. It has been a pleasure Les to be able to see the Tidewaters of Virginia through your lens. Congrats on the blogiversery. It does take on a life of its own beyond what one would imagine.

  16. Happy Anniversary Les. We have a "community couch" too. I also got an electric blanket this year. Perhaps the best purchase ever.

  17. I love your cat photo. Curling up is a good way to keep warm. Happy 2nd Birthday to you and here’s to many more anniversaries!

  18. C.C.,
    I am glad you found my blog and that you are enjoying it.

    Sorry your cat has moved on and consider yourself added as well.

    The best of those two should more of his face than I wanted to post on the interenet, so brim down it was.

    I guess it is like a garden started with plans, and then things happen.

    Yes, they both look innocent enough, but I know better.

    Yes we got a taste and frankly I am full.

    Thank you.

    Thank you for the kind comments and I will let my wife know.

    I hope I didn't put you to sleep.

    Danger G.

    Thank you and yes it is obsessive.

    Yes it is all relative. We will be complain about our first day in the 80's, but will recall them fondly when the temps brush 100.

    I think all the Sunbelt peoples have a similar reaction when the chill arrives.

    Thanks for stopping by. Is it nice and warm in Milton?

    The pleasure is all mine.

    Sweet Bay,
    We have two couches, one is forbidden and one is open.

    Yes Roscoe is very photogenic.


  19. The thoroughly disinterested 12 year old looks perfectly delightful in his toga shot with the dog....Sadie the dog made it clear here that she expected room to be made in the bed for her, as well, during the past couple of weeks. Thank goodness we're starting to defrost!

  20. I've enjoyed your blog for the better part of a year now. I took my husband and dog to York River State Park on your recommendation. (Note: mid-May is absolutely the worst time to take a dog to that park; I bet I picked 20 ticks off a 16-lb. dog! I should have gone when you did, in the early spring.)

  21. Happy Anniversary! Your animal pictures are just the cozy inspiration I need on this stormy day. But what's so bad about waking up hungover and filled with regret? At least I wake up....

  22. Love the pet pics and your munchkin too. Congrats on the two years. I'm just getting my feet wet.

  23. TOGA TOGA! Your'e very risque. :)
    Way to go on having blogged and kept at it for two years! Well done.

  24. Tim,
    When it is cold, I don't mind the dogs in the bed, the extra warmth is welcome.

    I am sorry your dog got buggy, but I hope you had a good time otherwise. I have discovered that our new Walker Hound is a tick magnet, it must be something about her pink skin and white fur. She gets 3 times the amount of ticks that our other dogs get.

    I hope you and your garden have not washed away. Any weather can be bad if you are not use to it or not expecting it. As far as hangovers go, it seems that in my middle age they arrive with less alcohol and take longer to go away, so I avoid them when possible.

    You may have just started but you are off to a good start. Your photography is very nice.

    Thanks for stopping by and the kind thoughts.


  25. It's always a treat to stop by. Congrats on the anniversary! I love the sleeping pictures. They look so very cozy.

  26. BostonPianoTunerJanuary 23, 2010 3:02 PM

    Les, thank you so much for your blog. One of the places that is most comfortable for me is the area around the James and York Rivers. When I read your blog and look at your beautiful photographs, my shoulders go down, I breathe more easily. Thank you for bringing me home. (I can't believe it's been only two years -- you have brought me much more than two years' worth of delight!)

  27. Joan,
    Thanks for stopping by.

    I am glad you are enjoying the blog and that it helps you relax.


  28. More creative posts and pictures every time I visit the Tidewater. Happy anniversary!

  29. Well goodness gracious Happy Anniversary! Two years is a long time and I've enjoyed getting to know you and learning from you. Such a joy indeed. Here's to many more years Les!

  30. Is there anything better than a pile of dogs, lying around? I have a feeling that the Pointer Sisters would feel right at home at your place (and that's not a hint or anything, although after a day of having them inside an Airstream with me, I might be willing to loan them out for a weekend!). :)

    Congrats on the two years, and a toast to the annoying neighbor!

  31. Hey Les, it not only looks like Slaterville winter down there, it sounds like the cold little house and piles of doggies, too (said with the beagle foot heater on full blast) Your pictures are so very sweet :) Congratulations on Year 2, and thanks for sharing so much knowledge and beauty with all of us.

  32. p.s. your wife's card are gorgeous! Does she sell them online perhaps? (really not trying to have 2 entries!)

  33. I recently found your blog & look forward to each new entry, thanks.
    A. Judson

  34. Linda,
    Come on down anytime you want. I'd say the weather is fine, but it is not right now.

    Thank you for the good wishes.

    Yes a hound pile is a wonderful thing. I would offer to reciprocate but it sounds as if you do not have a whole lot of room at the moment.

    We do not have a foot warmer, but our bed warmers work just fine. No, we have not tried selling her cards on the internet, perhaps an Etsy acct. is in order.

    A. Judson,
    Thank you for stopping by, you are welcome to return at anytime.


  35. Late to the party. (Life is hectic.) Congrats. Keep up the good work and keep me posted.

  36. Craig,
    Better late than never.


  37. Hi's Feb I'm visiting 'after the fact'! Thanks for stopping by several times while I've been absent from your blog--I apologize. I stopped blogging for a while, then almost quit Blotanical entirely...then, made a sudden reappearance! I love blogging, but it is time consuming, and VERY addictive. I've given up the fight though, I'm back in the throes of it and there's no sign of stopping! Well, I guess it's my own fault for not being eligible for your give away...but wow, how lovely the cards are! Your wife is one talented, artistic person! Pam is indeed very lucky! Does she sell the cards online or in stores? Beautiful!

  38. like craig, i'm late to the toga party, but happy belated blogiversary to you les! here's hoping the libations haven't run out for you yet...

  39. Jan,
    I am glad you are back among the blogggin. Did you get a little snow?

    Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words and yes the liquids lasted until we could get back to the store.


  40. Les,

    Sorry I missed out on this. I'm trying to catch up on my blog reading and still about 2 months behind.
    I didn't realize your wife was an artist. Her cards look awesome!
    Congrats on the two years of blogging. It's been two for me as well.