19 March 2016

Winter Walk-Off

This year, I stayed in Old Town Alexandria again where my office is located. There are more interesting things to photo. I took most of my walk on the south side of our main street -- King Street. The streets through the town center are named after royalty: King, Queen, Princess, Duke, and Prince Streets. Oddly, there is no Duchess Street.

Mostly historic architecture is included this year (taking a cue from our walk-off host), on what was the more affluent side of town, where homes are brick (instead of wood), and are three stories (instead of two). All photos were taken with my cellphone -- a first (and a test) for this blog.

To be well read, visit this local dress shop before your next dinner party.

Stabler Leadbeater Apothecary Shop is now a museum, but provided compounds and cures for years -- like to George Washington. Love the unique curved glass in the windows. On a tour, I remember seeing containers labeled "Dragon's Blood" and "Hound's Tooth." (I could not find eye of newt or wing of bat.) A curator mentioned that some compounds were unknown or labeled with strange names, and that no one today knows what they are, where they came from, or what they were used for. This 'drug' company operated until the 1900s when the newly formed FDA began requiring disclosure and regulation of ingredients in pharmaceuticals (and proof that they were effective.)

Someone lost his head outside an antique store (in the hell strip).

Fire fighting was very important in an urban early America. Fire fighting companies were private and in competition. The one-bay station house to the left of the main fire station was home to the "Relief Fire Company." This was one of several fire companies in town.

This plaque tells the story ... of a building across from the firehouse. The building is in the left-center of the photo below.

Two blocks away, another firehouse, the Friendship Firehouse is now a museum.

This was building was entrance to (what else) the Elks Club, and is now full of condos.

Fawcett-Reeder House, privately owned, with the rural-like setting, might have been built before the more urban townhomes in town. (Can't get the blasted street signs or cars out of the photos.)

And here is another spite house. The most famous one in town was profiled in a previous year's walk-off. Look for the door to the basement ice chamber.

Examples of the wealthy homes built in the 1800s. Most are in an Italianate style -- fitting the more conservative residents.

This is one of my favorites -- but the owners were probably outcasts and snubbed for building such a highly decorative, flamboyant house - a MacMansion of the time.

Gentry Row is a block of townhomes built by wealthy merchants. Brick paving in the street is cool.

Captain's Row is a block with many homes built by wealthy sea captains. This street, a bit older, is paved with cobblestones.

This museum is a stunner. It was originally a bank, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood at the end of Gentry Row -- before zoning regulations.

Stinky, dirty, smelly warehouses were found down near the river near the docks and wharfs.

They are now full of restaurants and shops.

A newer building near the river marks the water elevation. The river is at sea level, and does flood. When severe, water comes up into the lower streets and buildings. In recent years, this happens more frequently.
2015 Walk-Off
2014 Walk-Off
2013 Walk-Off

Hope you enjoyed your history lesson and tourist promo. Visit other winter walk-offs with Les at A Tidewater Gardener.

04 March 2016

Spring Survivor or Rescue Plant?

As mentioned in a few past posts, I discovered a few landscape plants that peppered the yard when I bought this house back in 1986. Most were of a poor quality: roses that had little form or fragrance, smallish bearded iris with no discerning form and washed-out color, flowering crabapple with few flowers. Maybe these things were big on the market back when the house was built in the mid 1950s. One of these leftovers is the species crocus in the photo.

These crocuses were growing along the east-facing foundation in the back of the house back in the day. They had a concrete air conditioner pad covering some. The air conditioner was eventually moved. They were growing in a crowded clump from years of neglect. They were eventually divided. Then, I built a deck above them eight years ago, and they never saw direct sunlight again.

Two years ago after not blooming (gee, I wonder why), they were dug up, and the largest corms were thrown into a sunnier spot on my hillside garden. They were forgotten with no more thought.

With a little warm weather to end February this year, they sprang to life. They surprised me -- was that lavender color along the walk a piece of trash that blew in?

I now remember moving them and hoping they would come back. I like the species more than the hybrids because of their earlier arrival, their willingness to multiply, and their apparent tenacity. I am looking forward to a growing population and will certainly give them more care. They've earned it.