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 26, 2017

I Love Chanticleer, Again

     Last October, I found myself falling in love with Chanticleer all over again. This was my fourth visit, and I am not going to say it was my favorite visit, because I would also say that about trips 1, 2, and 3. This was, however, my first time in the rain, though not visit-cancelling rain. It was sporadic enough to just keep your umbrella handy, but not always open, and light enough to enhance photography - and I took a lot of photos, so I'd recommend loading up your pixel hopper before going any further.

     Front Entrance
Chanticleer Entrance (1)

     One of my favorite spots at Chanticleer is always the Teacup Garden, and I like that the gardeners get to change it from year to year. This fall the colors seemed sullen, in an attractive way. I was really smitten with how the raindrops beaded on the Euphorbia cotinifolia, and how the variegated Asclepias curassavica played so well with the grass, which I think was Nassella tenuissima. 
Chanticleer Teacup Garden (1)

Chanticleer Teacup Garden (6)

Chanticleer Teacup Garden (3)

Chanticleer Teacup Garden (5)

     Not sullen, the Cutting Garden was full of color, and being late in the season it towered over our heads.
Chanticleer Cut Flower Garden (1)

Chanticleer Cut Flower Garden (3)

Chanticleer Cut Flower Garden (5)

     Ruin Garden
Chanticleer The Ruins (1)

     Gravel Garden
Chanticleer Gravel Garden (1)

Chanticleer Gravel Garden (2)

Chanticleer (34)

     Salvia 'Limelight'
Chanticleer Salvia 'Limelight'

Chanticleer Colchicum (2)

Chanticleer Colchicum

     Chanticleer House Garden
Chanticleer House Garden (1)

Chanticleer House Garden (2)

Chanticleer House Garden (3)

Chanticleer House Garden (6)

Chanticleer House Garden (7)

Chanticleer House Garden (10)

     This terrace sits at one end of Chanticleer House, and overlooks a large lawn and the gardens beyond. As a gardener, I can imagine ending my day sitting here watching the day turn to dusk, cool drink in hand.
Chanticleer House Garden (11)

     If you would like to see the remainder of my photos from this trip, please visit my Flickr page, and you can also see previous Chanticleer blog posts from 2016 here, and from 2011 here. Currently I am hosting my annual Winter Walk-Off, and I invite all of my fellow bloggers to participate.

February 20, 2017

Winter Walk-Off 2017

     Test 1-2-3, Test 1-2-3. Good, I am glad to see this thing's still working. It's been a while since I used it, but I couldn't let this time of year go by without celebrating my Winter Walk-Off meme. Truth be told, we haven't had much of a winter to walk off. Though I am no fan of the cold, I do wish we were having more normal weather. The plants are about 3 weeks ahead of schedule, and technically, winter is not over yet and could come back to bite us. Yesterday, I made my walk-off with temperatures pushing 70 under clear blue skies, and the extended forecast looks decidedly more like early spring than late winter. The weather is what the weather is, and no amount of complaining or rejoicing has ever swayed it one bit. Now on with the walk-off.

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).
  • Everyone who participates will have a chance to win one of two prizes, and this year a totally disinterested teenager will not be randomly drawing the winning names, as the totally disinterested teenager is away at school, and will only be considered a teenager for another half year or so, though I don't know when, if ever, he will become undisinterested. One participant will win a $25 gift certificate from Brent and Becky's Bulbs. The other winner will receive an assortment of botanically themed cards, handmade by my better half. I'll probably use a random number generator. I will contact each winner, and mail the prizes once the Walk-Off is over. 

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


         I started this year's walk-off where I left off last year, biking through a couple of the areas between Ghent and downtown. I started my ride in Chelsea, which like much of Norfolk, is becoming less gritty than it once was, though some of that grit might have just relocated to hipster beards. Chelsea was once an industrial area offering support services to the local docks and shipyards. Some of that still goes on, but now there is also a brewery, restaurants, tattoo parlors, and pop ups. While I welcome the change, I also worry that there may be fewer electricians, longshoremen, pipe fitters, and welders, but more baristas and waiters. The difference in pay grades is probably not good for the city.
    Chelsea (1)

    Chelsea (2)

    Chelsea (10)

    Chelsea (9)

    Chelsea (8)

         Until this fall, the bike trail I take downtown had been closed for several years due to the construction a second Midtown Tunnel. This region has nearly as many tunnels going under various waterways as it has bridges going over, and often you get bridges and tunnels in combination. If you are ever to visit, please know it is strongly encouraged to maintain, or even slightly exceed, the posted speed limit through the tunnel; you will indeed make it to the other side, and will live another day - trust us, we do it all the time.
    Midtown Tunnel (1)

         After leaving Chelsea, and crossing over the tunnel entrance, I headed to Plum Point Park, which offers nice views of the harbor, and where a beautiful collection of what some call weeds were blooming.
    Plum Point (1)

    Plum Point (3)

         Getting closer to downtown, I crossed over Smith Creek. Facing each other across the creek in between are PETA and NOAA. Other than acronyms, they don't have much in common, yet seem to be good neighbors.

         This building is now home to very expensive and tasteful condos. In the early 80's it was a different place. I went to a party there in an apartment where every vertical surface, and a few of the horizontals, had been used as a canvas; the Talking Heads were playing on the stereo. The party eventually migrated to the rooftop - good times.
    West York

         Speaking of good times, the lower building below is now an architectural firm, but was once home to a popular watering hole called the Operating Room. Directly across the street was another called the Recovery Room.

         The remainder of my ride took place in the Freemason neighborhood of Norfolk, which is one of the city's oldest and best preserved. In it you can find commercial and residential architecture representing three centuries. It's southern edge was once home to harborside warehouses, a few of which have been converted into condos, while the rest were razed to make way for new townhouses.

    West Freemason (4)

    West Freemason (2)

    Norfolk Boat Club

    West Freemason

    West Bute (2)

    West Bute

    College Place (1)

    Freemason Harbor

         Just on the other side of the Pagoda, downtown proper starts, and my Winter Walk-Off ends. I would have shown you more of the Pagoda, but this blog has been there several times, besides it is one of the last places still lousy with people playing Pokemon Go, like zombies they are.

         I do hope you will play along with me this year; I look forward to seeing your posts.