Monday, March 18, 2013

Winter Walk Off 2013

Les, at A Tidewater Gardener is hosting a series called Winter Walk Off, a chance for bloggers from all over a the globe to showcase part of their world on foot.  Since it sounds like fun and I'm always up for a little fun, I decided to participate.

The rules are simple: "On your own two feet, leave the house and share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home (if you want to drive to your walk that's OK too). Your post does not have to be about gardening or a travelogue, unless you want it to be. Maybe instead you will find some unusual patterns, interesting shadows, signs of spring, a favorite restaurant or shop, questionable landscaping or local eyesores. Whatever, just keep your eyes and mind open, be creative and have fun, but don't show anything from your own garden.".

Although I considered walking from my house, I can't imagine that would have turned out to be anything more than a big snooze fest.  When I do walk, which is often, I usually drive down to the center of town (less than 10 minutes) and park.  My town was founded in 1634 and is quite proud of it's historic landmarks.  Many of the homes and businesses that were built in the 1700 and 1800s and have been preserved and restored.

To begin my walk I parked in front of the salon where they work tirelessly to keep me preserved and looking my best.  Notice the empty planting containers and a barren cafe table.  Conditions around here continue to be too chilly to encourage people outdoors and the last frost date is still about a two months away.  Weather for my walk off was overcast and a raw 40 F.  Where the heck is spring? 

Next to the salon is this tiny deli.  Good food but limited hours-breakfast and lunch only.

From the deli we head down Main Street and out of downtown.  Many homes along the way display Historic Society plaques.  This one reads: May/Bulkeley House c. 1750.

Usually when I walk around town I cover about five mostly residential miles.  Within that area I only pass a handful of homes where someone appears to spend significant time gardening.  One of the gardens is located along the route I chose for this walk.  The garden has been open for both town garden club tours and the Garden Conservancy Open Days.  She has a diverse shade garden along the sidewalk but it's still sleeping and has not been cleaned up for the season.  Most of the garden is hidden by evergreen hedges.  Here's a quick peek I took through the gate.

Traffic stop and island gardens are located in a few key spots around town.  They are meticulously maintained by volunteers.  As you can see, it's too early for much in the way of garden interest around here.

Continuing down Main Street we pass yet another row of homes.  Every few years the Historical Society has a house tour.  Generally what people who own these houses do is keep the original home intact and construct an addition off the back where they typically have a family room, maybe a master bedroom suite, and a kitchen that doesn't require them to build a fire under the cauldron in the walk in fireplace to boil water.  Not my style, but to each his own.

After about a ten minute walk Main Street ends at the Connecticut River.  The Wethersfield Cove is a popular recreation spot for fishing, boat launching, and parking by the water.  Unfortunately the water quality isn't great so swimming is out but no one seems to mind.

In case you're wondering, Canadian geese are everywhere in central CT.  The Cove is probably one of the few places where they are welcome.

Could this flock of birds have been any more cooperative?

Located on the brink of the flood zone is this preserved maritime warehouse from the 1690s.  I have literally seen the water right up to the top of the foundation.  Now a museum, it is open for tours on weekends during the summer months.

On my way back down main Street I passed this fun formal garden.  You can't tell from the picture but the suspended "snowflakes" are lit.

Bamboo growing along roads is unusual around here.  This stand is growing along the side of a drainage ditch in the shadow of the interstate highway.  I've been tempted to grab a chunk of the variegated variety.  So far good sense has prevailed.

What the heck is this?  Not sure I would want it in full view of my house.

On the way back to town I passed some interesting front door decor.  Most people have yet to remove their winter wreaths and swags.  In fact I'm just starting to get rid of mine.

More historic homes.  Some are not quite as old-late 1800s maybe.

Not many homes can boast a wagon on the front lawn.

On the site where this private home now stands was the Stillman Tavern, a hostelry during the Revolutionary War.

Getting back into the commercial part of town again-The Chas C. Hart Seed Company has been in business since 1892 and is still run by the Hart family.

Further down Main Street and pretty much smack dab in the center of town is First Church, another Wethersfield landmark.

A cross walk cuts through this traffic island garden area.  In the background across the street is the very popular Village Pizza.

Next on the walk is our local tavern and a personal favorite of mine, Lucky Lou's.  In the 25 years I've lived in the area, this restaurant has changed hands many times.  Lucky's has been the most successful to date.  The building is town owned and leased to a restaurant proprietor with certain conditions about how they can modify the structure and what sort of hours they need to be open.   

Either I've never noticed this fountain before or it's a new addition.  Let's go with the new addition theory. 

As soon as the weather cooperates, the outdoor patio at Lucky's will be open again.  Last year the patio was doubled in size.  On most nights it's fairly busy.  On the nights they have live entertainment it's hopping.  On a summer night, this is a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine and a light dinner.

Just beyond Lucky's is the Hurlbert-Dunham House.  Until I researched it for this post I had no idea why it was significant.  If you want to read an interesting take on the place, click HERE.

On to the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center.  Home to one of my favorite annual events-The Taste of Wethersfield.

The Fountain of Service is not yet up and running for the season.  In the memorial garden I discovered this wonderful sculptured bird bath. 

At this point I crossed the street and started heading back to the car.  My next stop was the Colonial Revival Garden at the Webb-Deane Stevens Museum.  If you want to see what this garden looks like when things are actually growing, check out the link.  Consider this representative of garden interest in the area at this time of the year.  What a difference a couple of months makes.

Old meets new-sorta kinda.

At the rear of the property is the Webb Barn which is available to rent for events and is a popular wedding reception venue.  One night when I was enjoying the patio at Lucky Lou's a bride and groom with their wedding party walked over after their reception ended, ordered drinks and started passing out leftover cupcakes.  What a fun bunch of people! 

Next we pass my yoga studio.  A stiff back reminds me that there have not been enough Namastes in my weekly routine lately.

Conveniently located right next door to the yoga studio is Aroma Bistro, another good breakfast/lunch joint.  In case you haven't noticed, food is popular in Old Wethersfield but I guess that's the case just about anywhere.

Further down the street is Comstock Ferre, New England's oldest seed company.  For a number of years Comstock was a vibrant garden center under the same ownership local wholesale plant seller, Sunny Border Nurseries.  A few years ago it started to go into decline and was eventually purchased by Missouri based Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Although the new owners have cleaned up the property and have done much to restore the historic buildings, to my great disappointment the nursery no longer exists.

Another change made by the new owner was to paint the color of the barn blue and white instead of the signature red it had been for many years.  Change is inevitable I guess and a worthwhile trade off for buildings with such a presence in town from falling into disrepair.  Still I miss the red barn and the garden center it represented. 

My walk ends at yet another popular spot in town, the Main Street Creamery, recently reopened for the season.  On this particular day I was not craving ice cream but as warm weather returns there will be plenty of time to kick back in one of those wicker chairs and enjoy.

Someone at the creamery enjoys gardening.  Usually they have at least a few colorful containers and mixed plantings.

So there you have it.  As I sit here and write, we are getting hit with yet another winter snow storm.  Although it's not unheard of to get snow in mid March, it is somewhat unusual.  Winter in central CT is usually pretty much asses and elbows by now but not this year.  Tonight the news reported that last year at this time we had already had more than ten days in March with temperatures over 50 F.  So far this year we've had none.  Not one.

Thanks Les for creating an opportunity to get out and get the stink off.



  1. Thanks for the tour! Love the old homes and architectural details they have.

    What a great photo of the blue Adirondack chairs that we see by peeking through the purple key hole gate. Sue, no wonder you're so gifted with gardening, you have such an amazing eye.

  2. What a great walk-about Sue! I could never do it this week, given the ice pellets coming out of the sky. Had a car stuck in the drive and the neighbor's plow had to clear snow drifts 3 times too!
    I'll save this idea for future reference. :)

    1. Today is the last day but I believe it's an annual thing so keep it in mind for next year!

  3. Sue, thank you so much for taking us on your walk and participating in my little challenge. I like to think I am fairly geographically literate, but had never heard of old, or new, Wethersfield. It looks like a lovely New England town, and coming from Virginia we often think we have a lock on colonial history, so it is good to be reminded we do not. Everything looks poised for spring and soon the snow will melt, the shops and restaurants will be full, and the garden spots will be blooming. Namaste!

  4. How wonderful Sue! this is a great post. Love seeing all those historic buildings in your area and I have a good memory of the Creamery... I'd think about tackling this too but we are under eight inches of new snow at the moment and it's still piling up,. Great pics and I especially love the one with the birds of course.

  5. I just love old New England towns, and thanks for showing us yours. I really appreciate how current businesses and restaurants can still exist in old buildings and keep up their quaint facades.

    It'd be interesting to see these same photos in a couple of months when the weather is much better and plants have come out of hiding.

    1. Good idea-things will definitely look better in a month or two.

  6. I love Old Wethersfield and you gave us a really good walking tour. Everyone sees the big Colonial houses, but you see the details and touches, and how the new fits with the old. I wish Bloomfield had been able to do more with its town center and provide a place to walk and gather up a little of our history here. What a beautifully preserved town Wethersfield is!

    I too miss the old Comstock Ferre. I used to shop plants there, and did a post on it when Baker took over. The barn should be red.

    1. I'll have to look for that post, Laurrie. A few different developers looked at that property but proposed development that wouldn't fly with the town or the neighborhood. Bakers certainly has cleaned up the buildings but they don't appear to be doing much else with the property.

  7. I've always loved going to your town, Sue, and, like Laurrie, I miss the old Comstock Ferre. Old Wethersfield still feels and looks like Central Casting. I didn't Google it, but I'm guessing the town's been featured in somebody's movie. Or should be.

    One more thing. Stop making sense and grab the bamboo.

  8. What great history and what a beautiful waterfront your town has.

  9. How I love seeing the New England vernacular ! I believe you took Cindy and I to the Creamery,(after WFF?) but I am officially lobbying for a visit to Luckys ..well done Sue !

    1. Depending on your IU10 travel plans, we might be able to work something into the schedule.

  10. Nice tour, Sue. I have been to many of these places with my camera, but I can't remember posting a photo of any of them. I wonder why they have never made it to my blog. I guess I will need to re-trace my steps this summer and try harder.

    1. Get out of the museums and into the great outdoors, Jack :).

  11. I really enjoyed the tour. So much charm and so authentic. It's just the kind of place I'd like to be living, instead of the plastic place I do live. All except the long winters and gray skies, of course. Those I could do without.

    1. After this winter I think you may find quite a few die hard northern gardeners searching for real estate in your neighborhood. On the first day of spring the long term forecast still isn't showing a day of seasonally normal temperatures. Today the temps are 10 degrees below normal, the ground is snow covered and the wind is gusting. Blech!

  12. Thanks for the tour! I live in the land of "here today and gone tomorrow" so a place with so much history has its charms, even if that charm doesn't come with warm weather. (Who do you think paid off that groundhog anyway?) I hope this latest eastern storm is your last.

  13. Great walk off Sue and a beautiful town! Go west young woman! It's spring here!

  14. You live in a really pretty area. I've seen pictures of Comstock Ferre in the Bakers Seeds catalog. I've never participated in this meme because I'm not sure what I would show. My neighbors dead tree? The Safeway with its coordinating gas station? Wait - here's a heart stopper: all the traffic!

    1. If the rules hadn't allowed driving to the walk, I would have been dead in the water-especially this time of the year. Maybe a spring walk off would yield more in my neighborhood but not much.

  15. Thanks for the tour! A lovely area you're in.

    We call those Adirondack chairs Muskoka chairs on this side of the border...