There he goes again!

A brother in Virginia emailed this fall that he was beginning to build another outbuilding that he designed. He’s the brother who designed and built two other outbuildings in their beautiful landscape. If you’re interested in checking them out, I boasted posted some words and photos about this one and about this one in earlier blogs.

The original one is the largest and has a pull-down ladder to an attic large enough to stand up in. He designed it after seeing one like it in Williamsburg VA, our hometown. The second one, built to mirror the first one, is smaller and houses his lawn mower, trimmer, and other gasoline powered equipment. Not too long ago he said he needed an even smaller outbuilding to house the whole-house generator he purchased after going through Hurricane Florence. Really? Another outbuilding?

generator outbuilding

It seemed to me that with one emailed photo he was starting to construct the building and the following email a couple of weeks later was full of photos of the painting of the finished product. He designed the smaller generator shed to match the other two on the far side of the home with his ‘signature 8/12’ roof.

Richmond 2018

The louvered doors taken from a large estate were found at a local salvage dealer… a dealer who knows him by name by now as he’s been a steady customer through the years. I have not seen this latest outbuilding in person and was a little confused where the heck it exactly sat on their property. He answered that it’s located right where a 40-year old boxwood was located…. a huge shrub I do remember…. that he dug up and moved to a spot front yard. Oh my!

generator 2018

He just shared a photo of his new generator outbuilding from his window after a mid-Atlantic snowstorm blanketed the area. The generator outbuilding is the showpiece he hoped for and truly looks as though it’s been there since colonial days.

Generator building snow 2018

I’m proud of this talented bro and boasted posted about him and my sister-in-law here and here, too. I’m a lucky gal.

Just south of the Mason-Dixon Line

Oh boy, was it fun to connect with my “roots” in Virginia for several days. My adorable niece was married last Saturday in Richmond.  mister gardener and I flew down for the lovely event and extended our stay to catch up with family (and plant life) just below the Mason-Dixon Line in the Piedmont area of Virginia.

The horizon was totally green under hazy skies as we descended for landing, trees fully leafed out, green, green, green, way ahead of the landscape in New Hampshire. That always amazes me. It’s just an hour and 20 minutes by plane.

Richmond VirginiaWe generally drop our luggage at the home of one of my brothers and wife in Richmond…. a couple who always make us feel right at home in their beautiful 19th century home that they have lovingly restored… all by themselves for the most part!

Richmond VA

Richmond

Edwards Virginia Ham

And first things first…. the most gracious Virginia hospitality includes what we have been craving…. Edwards Virginia Ham on warm buttered biscuits!

Edwards Ham is the salty type, a country ham that perhaps will seem too salty if one hasn’t grown up with it as a staple in the home. As for me, this wonderful ham has spoiled me for any ham I’ve tasted since.

Sadly, this unique Surry, Virginia ham company burned to the ground a year ago. While the insurance is being settled, the ham is being prepared and aged at other ham facilities across the country. Lucky for us!

Another priority in the south before you are unpacked and settled is a garden tour. This is a brother and wife who love and live just to be in the garden. I blogged about their gardens a few years ago. This is also the brother who saved the crow and that was quite an exciting story! Those blogs are two of my most read blogs and most ‘lifted’ photos from my blog… (that I willingly share if given credit for them).

The garden house my brother built from his own design (and where he hid from the attacking crow) always receives a lot of interest. For sure, he missed his calling as an architect. He is amazing and that’s no exaggeration from this sister!

The garden house looks great from any angle, even our bedroom window.

It’s fun on each visit to see what’s new in this fabulous garden. I told a blogging friend who photographed a door in another garden, that I knew a person with a garden door and this is the place! The fence and an old door were added to stop the deer from nibbling the azaleas. What a great garden accent! I love the RED.

Garden Door, Richmond VA

Everywhere you look there is nature looking back. I loved this sweet scene beneath the pergola he built last summer. It is covered with a lovely purple wisteria where wrens live in the house and robins are raising young practically on top of the wren house…. sort of condo style.

Wrens and Robins!

What will we look forward to on the next garden tour? They are planning another outhouse in the garden. This small one will be for the mower, weed eater, and blower. He’s already begun the foundation using discarded lumber from a neighbors deck. “What will it look like?” I asked. It will be a chip off the other garden house and he sketched it for me in a flash. The roof will be tin and atop the weathervane will be a copper bird dog, our family’s favorite pooch.

I can hardly wait for my next visit….

Save

Save

Lavender Blue

In the spring, one of the first plants I searched for in local nurseries was Liriope muscari,  a common perennial border plant in Virginia. I was happy to read that with a little care, it can be hardy in our zone 5. So I was surprised that it was not readily available locally and I saw puzzled looks on faces when I asked for it. The word liriope easily rolls off a southerner’s tongue as it is found practically in every garden… usually as a wonderful pass-along plant.

I was absolutely thrilled to finally find some at Rolling Green Nursery. A enlightened worker marched me right to their one flat in a far corner of the property. I bought it all. I knew how easily it divided. Each pot became two. But I wanted more and vocalized my disappointment to my brother and his wife. Imagine my surprise when a heavy box arrived soon after. I was delighted to find carefully packed pass-along Liriope muscari from their garden. The best part of this story is that the plants were passed along to them from a beloved aunt’s garden in Jacksonville FL. Better yet, she obtained her plants from my dear grandparents’ gardens in Richmond VA many years before. So I am the 4th person to benefit from these special pass-along plants! As soon as they are more established, my daughter in Portsmouth will be the 5th recipient.

liriope

There are two species of of the plant and I’ve cultivated both in the past: Liriope muscari, a plant that behaves as a mound of grass-like foliage and Liriope spicata, a variety that spreads as a wonderful groundcover.

When so many garden flowers are beginning to fade in July and August, Liriope is just beginning its show. The flowers are tiny however they are numerous along a spike. The hum of bees working the blooms is music to my ears.

It’s a terrific plant, tolerant of summer heat and lack of water. There are many species and cultivars with variegated leaves of green and white or yellow and white or pink blooms,and different sizes, however the solid green leaves feel cool and inviting to me.

This week, the mower with our landscaping service stopped his tractor and asked, ‘Can you tell me what those plants are that are blooming along your border?’ Of course I could… and if he plays his cards right he may be another pass-along donee.

Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K -2013

Recreation for us this weekend is fairly relaxed. We settled down to watch day 3 yesterday and we’ll watch the final day today of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club, where we hold our breath for our favorite golfer to end up wearing that coveted green jacket.

Augusta National Golf Club

Augusta National Golf Club via Wikipedia

For running fans out there, excitement this weekend will be the preparations for Monday’s Boston Marathon, the oldest annual marathon in the USA. I read recently that it is the most widely viewed sporting event in New England.

Now, not as large but just as exciting to locals back in Virginia was the party atmosphere at the annual Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K race in Richmond that took place Saturday. Nearly 40,000 participants raced on Monument Avenue, an beautiful boulevard lined with historic homes, grassy medians, beautiful trees, and grand statues of Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and Arthur Ash.

 J.E.B. Stuart

J.E.B. Stuart via Wikipedia

I had a front row seat for The Monument Avenue 10K even though I wasn’t there. My brother and niece participated and texted photos along the route. Runnner’s World has called the event a “must run,” and USA Today has named it to their 2009 “10 great places for runners to hit the road.” What a gorgeous day for a race!

Image 2To give me an idea of the number of people out and about today, I was texted this photo of some of the portable toilets. The organizers of the event, Sports Backers, supplied a total of 374 portable toilets along the route.

Whether it’s a group raising money for charity or the adrenaline rush of a first time participant’s finish, the atmosphere was electric. The party mood of the race was emphasized by the Richmond Times Dispatch’s “Dress Up & Run” contest where participants who enter can vie for a cash prize. Of course, there were some who just liked to dress up to support the race like this fella below.

Image 1Dozens of bands dotted the route and masses of cheering spectators packed the streets shouting words of encouragement.

Image 4It is definitely fun for me to witness such a positive extravaganza in my old stomping grounds in Virginia where thousands of runners, walkers and spectators converged on one of the prettiest boulevards in the south. And, most importantly, hearty congratulations to my bro and his daughter for completing the race!

What is it about Virginia?

What is it about Virginia? Just like the newspaper columnist and author Guy Friddell wrote in his witty book of that title, Virginia is timeless. Some things never change. Virginians look forward to visiting with each other around a groaning board featuring foods of the season. In the spring, it’s shad, in the summer, it’s Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, and in the fall, it’s oysters pulled from local waters.

When an invitation arrived for a Richmond oyster roast with family and friends, how could I resist a quick trip south? At the airport, I stepped onto Virginia soil under sunny skies and 70° weather to meet friends who volunteered transportation… but Virginia transportation is never from point A to point B.  Good Virginia hospitality always involves stopping for nourishment and a short driving tour and a friendly catch-up on news from high school to the present. The Art of Visiting is still a strong Virginia tradition.

A few strings of lights over the driveway, a couple of fire pits, scattered chairs, grills, Rappahannock River oysters and a groaning board full of sides and desserts and you have yourself a Virginia Gathering.

However, Virginians can’t live on oysters and sides alone. Oyster roasts need to be accompanied by a soup, traditionally clam chowder or our family favorite, Brunswick Stew, Edwards Ham biscuits, cornbread and then then the complement of appetizers, sides and desserts.

The trip to the Old Dominion gave me a moment to reconnect and reflect and unwind before jetting back to our newly adopted state, New Hampshire…. a state full of adventures and discoveries and an abundance of new friends to meet.