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.

March 22, 2015

2015 Winter Walk-Off Wrap-Up

     So finally it is spring. I know in some more northerly places that just means a new mark on the calendar, and real change in the landscape may be weeks away, but around here there is every indication that the seasons are changing. Yesterday I took a much needed bike ride, and my route took me downtown to the harbor and back home again. Along the way strollers were being pushed, couples were holding hands, joggers were jogging, sailboats were sailing, and blooms were blooming. It was therapeutic to be outside, and it was great to see that so many others were enjoying the day as well.

Berkley Shipyards (1)

Sailboats and Aircraft Carrier

Victory Rover (2)

     This year's Winter Walk-Off was not the best attended, but I was grateful for each entry nonetheless. It was also the least international, with every Walk-Off taking place within the States, making it the first all-American Walk-Off (USA!, USA!, USA,!). This year's patriotic tally was 11, and here they are in the order in which they were received.

#1 - Tina in Tennessee
Tina and her husband, Mr. Fix-it, have built themselves a home in rural Tennessee, and she has her priorities straight. She began to garden there before the house was built. Like many of us in the eastern U.S., Tennessee has had its share of snow this year. One nice thing about snow is that it lets you see all kinds of animal tracks you wouldn't see otherwise, and these are what Tina and her husband discovered on their walk.

#2 - Beth in Wisconsin Florida
Last year, Beth took her Walk-Off in the frozen wilds of Wisconsin. This year she spent part of the winter along the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the flora and fauna are quite different, and considerably more active than what she normally sees at this time of year. I am glad she played along; it was the only near-tropical entry, and there were many days I wish I could have joined her in person.

Freemason Harbor

#3 - Sarah in Maine
It has become tradition for Sarah to take her Winter Walk-Off on skis, but that is not a special occasion for her; she skis a lot in snowy Maine. Sarah also brought her dog along (I love dogs), and of course her camera, with which she captured some of winter's beauty.

#4 - Peter in Tacoma, Washington 
Peter's entry was the first of several from the Pacific northwest, where that part of the country has enjoyed a relatively mild winter and a much earlier spring than we have had in the east. There are many spring blooms to be seen in Peter's post, as well as architecture (I am a fan of both).

Salix  at the Pagoda Garden) (1)

Salix  at the Pagoda Garden) (3) 

#5 - Hoover Boo in California
Some gardeners waste time complaining about the weather, often without considering what others somewhere else may have to endure. I know I am guilty. Although I've lately been thinking about California, specifically its dreadful water crisis, which is likely to get even worse. Hoover Boo shows how some are taking the lead by replacing water intensive landscape plants with more water-wise (and fire-wise) native plants.

#6 - Alison at Lake Tapps, Washington
Lake Tapps was once a working lake used to generate hydroelectric power, but it is now retired and is a lovely place to fish, boat, swim, or to take a Winter Walk-Off. The lake has been temporarily drained for some maintenance work, which provides for some of Alison's interesting photos, but she also shows photos of what it looks like when full.

Prunus cerasifera (1)

#7 - Annie in New Hampshire
It is still cold in New Hampshire, and Annie did not feel like walking outside, so she took her walk inside Phillips Exeter Academy’s library, the largest secondary school library in the world. The building is very modern with its materials being celebrated in the architecture. Despite living where she does, you can tell Annie is still very much a Virginian, as Mr. Jefferson occupied her thoughts while walking.

#8 - Laura in Vancouver, Washington
Laura and her sweet baby dog Barnaby head to the local dog park in her entry, and I do love dogs and trips to the dog park. A word of warning; if you go with Laura and Barnaby, brace yourself if Barnaby tries to sit in your lap.

Magnoia stellata

#9 - Loree in Portland, Oregon
Portland seems like an incredibly hip place to live with a very active gardening scene, and I am so sorry I couldn't make it to last year's Fling to see for myself. Loree's Walk-Off took place in her neighborhood, and it was filled with lots of interesting residential architecture. Of course, if you follow Loree's blog, you know her post was also filled with lots of plants. What can't they grow in Portland?

#10 - Janet in South Carolina
Janet has joined my Winter Walk-Off every year that I have had one, and she is also the only participant I have met in person (I hope I can meet the rest of you, somewhere, somehow, sometime). Janet also takes her dogs along (have I mention how much I like dogs?), and like some of us humans, her dogs are slowing down a bit, but that just makes it easier to enjoy the sights at a more leisurely pace.

#11 - Ray in Alexandria, Virginia
The final entry was submitted by Ray. He took his Walk-Off around Old Town Alexandria, which is just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. It is one of Virginia's most charming cities, just ask George Washington. A word of warning: Ray's post shows some scenes of arboreal neglect that some gardeners may find difficult to view.

Don't Please

I want to sincerely thank all of this year's participants for walking with me, and those of you may have only walked in spirit, thank you also.

Now onto the prize portion of today's broadcast where the swag will rain down on two lucky walkers. Regular participants may recall that the reliable method for picking winners is to have a thoroughly disinterested teenager pick the names out of a hat, but a clean Martini glass was closer than a hat, so that's what was used.

The fist name drawn was Tina of Tennessee (In the Garden) and she has won a 4 million year old fossil (give or take a few millenia) of Chesapecten jeffersonius, a large scallop that is also the state fossil of Virginia.

The second name drawn was Janet of South Carolina (The Queen of Seaford) and she has either won a framed photo print, or a small frame, depending on what she thinks of the photo.

Thanks again everyone!

(All of the photos in this post were taken during my bike ride yesterday.)


  1. Nice wrap-up, Les! Yes, I "walked-off" winter in Florida, but now I'm glad to be back in Wisconsin (believe it or not). The Snowdrops and Crocuses are blooming. And we're getting 3-5 inches of snow overnight! But that's OK. I get to experience the transition, and I missed the worst part of winter. Cheers! Thanks, again, for hosting!

  2. Once again a great way to welcome spring as we enjoy the sights from around the blogosphere. Thanks Les.

  3. Sorry to miss this year's but enjoyed reading the wrap up. I might take a walk and write about it because it still feels like winter in New York!

  4. All wonderful walk-offs this year--what a great way to say goodbye to winter, although in my case, winter is a good thing, not a bad one. More of it here would be most welcome.

    Happy Springtime to you, Les, and congrats to the lucky winners.

  5. Sorry I wasn't able to participate this year but am feeling better now. I enjoyed all the walks and look forward to taking your readers somewhere interesting in 2016. Congratulations Janet on your prize! Thank you Les for the chance to visit other areas and other gardens.

  6. Thanks for hosting, Les, I look forward to visiting these links. We're still snowbound in Maine, but it's now so icy from on and off thaws that I've traded my skis for snowshoes. I'd love to dig out my bike. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

  7. Aw cool! I like scallops very much so I am looking forward to seeing this four million year old fossil!

    You like dogs! Yeah! One of these days I'll visit Norfolk. It is a city I am familiar with having visited it many times and flying Space A in an Air Force plane many more times! The stories on that one.

    I love your wrap up of all the winter walks. Great job!! And incredible photographs-as always.

  8. I didn't know our commonwealth had a state fossil!

  9. Les, thanks for hosting this fun event. Congrats to the winners.

    I enjoyed reading everyone's Winter Walk-off. Happy Spring!

  10. I will have to check out these links. When we had snow in February I took my camera with me down to the creek but never ended up writing the post. Then, just like that, spring was here.