Our friends on the East Coast have been reporting their first encounters with the whipping wind of November, and we’ve been responding…awkwardly. Temperatures yesterday reached 88 degrees outside my office in San Diego. (It’s usually 60-something this time of year, which is crisp and — what’s that sound? Oh, tiny violins…) This unseasonable warmth and our impending trip back home for the holidays have made us nostalgic for the last East Coast trip we took back in June.
It was a late-spring roadtrip from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Kennebunkport, Maine; we rode bikes with rhododendrons and got campy in the Hamptons. Early in this vacation we (Ryan, his parents Denise and Bob, and me) took a steamy, self-guided walking tour of the historic district of Wilmington, a port city in the southeastern part of the state, a college town known for its sandbar-striped beaches and filming locations that have famously included Dawson’s Creek.
A slow Southern pace was key to appreciating all the North Carolina flora growing against the Georgian, Neoclassical and Colonial Revival architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries. You could practically hear the plants exhaling: lacecap hydrangeas, espaliered pear trees, flowering pomegranates, cycads the size of Mini Coopers. Those classic Southern trees, magnolia and crepe myrtle, so gloriously emblematic!
We even saw a few hellstrip agaves that flashed us right back to SoCal. The threat of rain hung in the air the entire time. We started our walkabout in the gardens of the Front Street Inn, and when we rounded the corner to Orange Street, we were confronted by leaves of spider brake ferns busting through the mortar of a brick fence.
Our wanderings continue below. To think, in just a few weeks we’ll be under the Atlantic influence again, where the trees will be bare and the guest rooms (and the wine glasses) will be full. —TH