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 11, 2018

Chilly Bike Ride to Portsmouth

     On Friday the weather man told me that if I had any outdoor plans for the weekend, that I should make them for Saturday, as a nor'easter would be rolling in on Sunday. So I got up Saturday morning, had my coffee, found my Felcos, and headed outside to tend to my neglected back garden, only to feel rain. I may do wet, and I may do cold, but I don't do wet and cold. I went back inside intending to wait out the rain, but started watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix, and didn't stop watching until it was time for bed. If you don't mind subtitles this is an excellent series set in late 20's, pre-Nazi Berlin, a time and place that intrigues me. I have since read that Babylon Berlin is the most expensive German TV series ever produced, and I can see why. They spent a lot of time recreating the look and feel of the era. However, I think they could have saved a ton of money by cutting back on the number of cigarettes the characters smoke, and they smoke constantly. With cigarettes running about 6.00 € currently, and with at least an entire pack consumed every 5 minutes, in a multi-episode series, that's a lot of Euros.

     Pardon the digression. When I woke up on Sunday, and saw that it was not raining, I decided to ride my bike to Olde Towne Portsmouth before gardening. This blog has been to Olde Towne several times before. To get there I rode to downtown Norfolk, and there got on the ferry to Portsmouth. There were so few people out and about, that both city centers looked as if they may be under evacuation orders. Given the cold dank weather, it was no surprise.
Elizabeth River Ferry

     Waiting for the ferry, I had time to ponder gulls, as well as The Hotel of Unresolved Issues, a place I was twice employed. 

Hotel of Unresolved Issues

Elizabeth River Ferry 2

Shipyard (4)

     Once in Olde Towne I found much in bloom. Crabapples planted around the old Norfolk County courthouse nicely framed the building, as well as the adjacent Confederate memorial. One of these days I may share my thoughts on such memorials, but I haven't figured out how to say what I want to say without coming across as someone I am not. Besides, my thoughts are still fluid on the matter.
Crabapple on Court St. (1)

Crabapple on Court St. (2)


Magnolias on Middle St.

Forsythia and Hyacinth on Washington

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of Callery pears in Olde Towne. I guess Portsmouth hasn't gotten the invasive species memo yet. One was blooming next to one of my favorite houses in Olde Towne, which currently happens to be for sale. According to Zillow, it has been in the same family for four generations.
Bradford Pear on Middle St.

Magnolia on Middle

     Speaking of invasive species, English ivy looks very nice here, but it is a scourge in many local woodlands.
Anderson-Wright Rooms & Gardens

Cherry on Washington

     Next to St. John's Episcopal, one of Olde Towne's many churches, I saw a quince blooming. I think it is one of the new Double Take series (Chaenomeles speciosa Double Take™ Scarlet).
St. John's Episcopal Church (3)

St. John's Episcopal Church (1)

St. John's Episcopal Church (2)

     I have always wanted to see what the inside of St. John's looks like, but have never had the chance. So I googled it, and had to borrow a photo from the church's web site to share. I hope they don't mind; it is lovely.

     Another Olde Towne church, Monumental United Methodist, recently made the news when its steeple caught fire. As a lapsed Methodist, I am glad the rest of the church was spared, and that the steeple is being restored. It was a local landmark, and one of the taller structures in downtown Portsmouth.
Monumental Methodist

Narcissus on London

     Don't you love robust columns and a strong pediment?
Robust Columns

     I lived in Olde Towne Portsmouth right out of college in the apartment building below. Built in 1851, it began life as part of the Macon Hotel, ironic for me at the time because I was working at the Hotel of Unresolved Issues across the river in Norfolk. During the Civil War it was one of the city's many hospitals, so it is no wonder I thought the place was haunted. 
Macon Hotel

     Thanks for riding with me! If you would like to walk with me, my 2018 Winter Walk-Off continues, with entries accepted through March 19th.


  1. Alexandria & Chincoteague "Friend" sends "thumbs up" for your getting up & going & then sharing of the scenes and what thoughts they conjure in your mind. In my travels today I read a quote that memories, in the end, become their own reality.

    1. Thank you for the quote, it is so true.

  2. I shutter to think you had a third nor'easter; I hope you can get to your garden soon. The flowering quince is such a happy sight in late winter, and I think I spotted a Daphne odora in bloom next to it; what a celebration of scenes.
    I'll be looking for Babylon Berlin, thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Yes, that was a Daphne. There were actually two planted there, but you are seeing the best side of the best one. They looked a little bedraggled.

  3. I've been following your blog for some time now and always enjoy the local mix of architecture and flora. I'm an avid gardener and alumnus of Court Street Academy. I was disheartened by your comments on the Confederate memorial which felt heavy and left me in a dour mood when your blog usually provides levity. You may as well have said how you feel because as a reader you left me to surmise the worst. Your opinion and blog are yours to express--I'll let you have them.✌
    - Alice Walker's Petunia�� UVA CLAS 2002

    1. Anon, thank you for following my adventures via this blog. I am sorry the post left you feeling heavy in a dour mood. That was not my intent, and I hope you will return. In the meanwhile, please don't surmise the worst.