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.

November 10, 2017

Along the Cape Henry Trail

     Last Saturday I took my bike to First Landing State Park in Virginia beach for a ride on the Cape Henry Trail. The trail is an old country road cutting across Cape Henry from the Chesapeake to the Atlantic. It runs through a diverse forest growing on a series of ridges formed from ancient sand dunes. In the low spots between the ridges, cypress swamps have formed where the trees are draped with Spanish moss. This ride is one of my favorites, and I try to do at least once a month. At the end of the trail I ride through oceanfront neighborhoods, head towards the boardwalk and the touristy area, and finally turn around at Rudee Inlet. 
First Landing State Park (10)

First Landing State Park (9)

First Landing State Park (8)

First Landing State Park (11)

First Landing State Park (12)

First Landing State Park (3)

First Landing State Park (4)

First Landing State Park Fungi (6)

First Landing State Park Fungi (5)

First Landing State Park Fungi (4)

First Landing State Park Fungi (3)

First Landing State Park Fungi (9)

Kite Surfer

King Neptune

Fake Plastic Tree

Rudee Inlet (1)

Rudee Inlet (2)

Rudee Inlet (4)

     This blog has been here before, and if you want a more informative post click here.

October 29, 2017

NEON District

     Earlier in the month on a gray wet day I participated in planting a rain garden in the NEON District of Norfolk. NEON has little to do with electrified gasses, rather it stands for New Energy of Norfolk, and the powers-that-be have designated this area as the city's arts district. As clunky as the name is, I do applaud the city for promoting the arts, especially in a part of town where the nearby downtown economic boom has been slow to catch hold. A little support, and a little prodding from the city, and now there are galleries, theater spaces, a comedy club, restaurants, and a vacant lot called The Plot which has become a community gathering place. On the day we were there, we planted several pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), and a couple of grasses. Throughout the district plants have been tucked here and there, mostly through the efforts of volunteer groups, like the Master Gardeners.
NEON District (3)

NEON District (2)

NEON District (1)

NEON District with Ruellia (1)

NEON District (16)

NEON District with Gaillardia

     Along an otherwise boring chain-link fence, a colorful garden had been sown, or maybe sewn.
NEON District Fiber Garden (5)

NEON District Fiber Garden (6)

NEON District Fiber Garden (2)

NEON District Fiber Garden (1)

     Many of the walls in the NEON Distract are painted with murals and sanctioned graffiti. My favorite is by artist, Christopher Revels, whose normal medium is sidewalk chalk, which he uses to draw his Walking Houses. Revels' houses are always drawn on stilts above water, an appropriate image for a city second only to New Orleans under threat due to sea level rise. These images speak to me personally. Since I was a teen, a recurring theme in many of my dreams has been water and waves washing under stilted beach houses, taking carefree beach-goers out to sea, only to return them on the next wave unharmed, back on the beach.
NEON District Walking Houses (2)

NEON District Walking Houses (5)

NEON District Walking Houses (3)

NEON District (39)

NEON District (25)

NEON District (24)

          Thankfully downtown Norfolk is a much different place then the ghost town it was when I first lived here 40 years ago, but it would not have happened without a great deal of push and effort. Gritty has always come naturally here, but edgy and hip has taken work.