Sunday, May 2, 2010

Guest Gardens in Portsmouth, Va.

While Mitchell sat thru a seemingly endless meeting on Friday afternoon, I took an impromptu walking tour of Old Towne Portsmouth. Altho we get to that area a couple of times a year, I had not visited Old Towne in nearly 40 years and had never walked it. It looked like the sort of place where I would find nice little gardens tucked here and there - and I was not disappointed.

Old Towne dates to Revolutionary times and is located on the Elizabeth River which leads directly into Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. Like Old Town Alexandria (Va.) and Georgetown (D.C.) and Boston and Philly and lots of other cities on the East Coast it was originally side-by-side brick townhouses with small yards in the back. It is still partly that way, but there are many places where the single family homes have been replaced with larger structures - a former hotel, apartment buildings, and bed and breakfast inns, plus a church or two. It's full of little courtyards and interesting nooks and crannies. And, of course, flowers.

Altho it was a hot afternoon and I stupidly forgot to carry a water bottle, I had a great time just wandering the streets and peeking into side yards to see what was happening.

It's the end of azalea season, so they were everywhere providing everything from soft pastel pinks and lilacs to the garish cerise and reds. The prettiest ones were the ones that climbed over some of the old wrought-iron fences.

Several places I found climbing roses that were already in full bloom, like this gorgeous red one that climbed up the porch column and on across the porch roof. This was apparently a private home, altho I saw several others climbing pergolas and porches at an inn.

This mini-park was behind an apartment building and apparently done privately. It stretched nearly the full depth of the block with mostly flowering shrubs along both sides and a series of circular beds in the center, each with some sort of focal point - a gazing ball, a fountain, a piece of sculpture. It was not only beautifully kept, but a shady, cool oasis from the hot afternoon. Unfortunately, there was no bench to sit so apparently the gardener wants one to enjoy, but not for too long!

I did not get photos of the two "best" gardens. At both homes the gardener was out working and I spoke briefly with each one, but felt odd about asking permission to photograph their gardens. But my favorite sight was this:

In some ways it think it sums up the popularity of gardening in Old Towne. Wish I had thought of it first!


  1. What a lovely day (except for the heat). i love to wander and discover on my own. Sometimes I'm my own best company. thanks for sharing.

  2. It's so nice to see what others have done... and maybe get an idea or two!