Saturday, August 27, 2016

Most asked questions at Garden Walk Buffalo (2016 version)

 
 Here are some of the most-asked questions during Garden Walk Buffalo this year:
Q. Do you take this down for the winter?
A. No. They're winter-hardy succulents and sedum. They need winter. It does get covered with cloth.
Q. What's on the walls?
A. Pickets from a fence we had taken down. Painted with the left-over paints from other projects around the house (just trying to use up buckets of paint that have been sitting in the basement). Total cost of interior? About $20 in nails.
Q. Do you bring in the mirrors over the winter.
A. No

Q. What are the trailing vines?
A. Variegated creeping Charlie.
Q, Where did you buy the terracotta pot lights?
A. I made them.
Q. What glue did you use to make the glass flowers?
A. I don't know. I didn't make them. I bought a few and others were a gift, from a friend that makes and sells them on Etsy at Art Glass and More.
Q. What's the meaning of the Shrieking Shack?
A. If you don't "get" it, you're a Muggle and I can't tell you.
It looked like this pretty much full time for two days. I kept track with a "clicker" counter on Saturday and clicked in 1,028 visitors. I wasn't around for the first couple hours on Sunday, so we didn't keep track but believe it was about the same - so around 2,000 over the course of the weekend.
I did put out magazines and newspaper articles that featured our garden on the potting table.
One last minute project I eked out was adding lattice trellises to either side of the shed bay window. I'll try and find a marked-down climbing vine this fall at end-of-season nursery sales.
It did briefly rain at the get-go on Saturday, but it didn't stop intrepid garden visitors.
My wife created a scavenger hunt for kids - they had to try to find items in the garden. They had to find:
1
THE SQUIRREL THAT DOESN’T SQUIRM
2
THE BIRD THAT NEVER SINGS
3
THE FISH THAT ALWAYS SPITS
4
THE LUCKY SHOE
5
THE FAIRY CHAIRS
6
THE PINK POLK-A-DOT PLAN

And here's my two favorite things to see in the garden – my wife/groundskeeper (left) and garden writer Sally Cunningham.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Numbers on Garden Tourism

This article originally appeared in Buffalo's weekly arts and culture newsprint publication, The PUBLIC on June 15, 2016.

Did you know that, in the U.S., more people visit botanical gardens, botanical parks, garden tours, and garden events than visit Disneyworld. And Disneyland. Combined. That’s more than visit Las Vegas each year.

Smug creek Gardens in Hamburg.
So I called up the guy who wrote the book Garden Tourism, Richard Benfield, the guy who published the factoid above, and started asking him questions about regional garden tours, attendance numbers, ZIP code research, economic impacts, and more. He tells me he is the nation’s leading expert on garden tourism, basically, because, there is no one else. And, since I was asking such good questions, I could be number two.

It turns out his book was the first ever published on garden tourism, and to date it’s the only book written on garden tourism. And Buffalo has two and a half pages in it.

At the time, I was a few years into my seven years as a leader of Garden Walk Buffalo, which has turned into America’s largest garden tour. I was trying to figure out, through Benfield, where Buffalo stood as far as the size, scale, and impact of our tour. It turns out, there’s really nothing quite like it.

Garden Walk Buffalo, at 23 years old, attracts an estimated 65,000-70,000 visitors to more than 400 participating gardens; 20-23% of those visitors come from more than 50 miles outside of the city, and the two-day event has an estimated $4.5 million economic impact to the region. And that’s each year, for the past eight years. You do that math.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A make-your-own garden totem fountain

 
I bought myself a make-your-own totem of hand-thrown pottery pieces and made it into a fountain. I help organize a Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale and their booth was next to the booth at which I sat for two days for Garden Walk Buffalo at the Sale.

The vendor was Peter Goergen of JPG Pottery (3385 Maple Avenue, Allegheny, NY 14706 716-951-0172 jpetergoergen@gmail.com).

I watched other folks decide on their height first - an unseen interior metal pole screws into a fitting set in a concrete base. The fitting in the base is an "L" shaped pipe that can accommodate tubing to make it a fountain, although Peter hadn't seen any of his totems made into fountains.

You buy the concrete base and pipe for a base price of $25. Then you can add elements - hand thrown clay dishes, columns, balls, finials and more. And you pay individually for each piece. Price is determined by size, design, and complexity (ranging from $9 to $125 for mine). The total for mine was just a hair over $300.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A new favorite garden

I consider myself fairly well-versed when it comes to the region's gardens. Every once in a while, I find a garden that is a real surprise – that I didn't know existed – and this is this year's. This is the garden of Carole and John Hajnosz, in Hamburg, NY. It actually backs up to the Wanakah Country Club's golf course, very near Lake Erie. 

It is on Garden Buffalo Niagara's Tours of Open Gardens. I'm vice president of Gardens Buffalo Niagara, and I help, tangentially, with putting on this tour of 70+ gardens open for select hours on Thursdays and Fridays throughout Eire and Niagara Counties in the month of July.

Carole and John have been working on this one-acre property for 25 years. He described it to me as looking like a football field when they moved in. Brick, grass, stone, and slate paths meander throughout the space, alternating open spaces with densely planted narrow paths.

His original plan was to build an arboretum, but didn't think he had enough room. It is a small-scale arboretum no matter what he says! There are ornamental trees, fruit trees, and mini, dwarf  and standard conifers. He's got an ever-increasing collection of azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas – and dozens of other flowering shrubs.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Boxes, baskets, pots, planters, walls, and grates...

This year's window boxes and cone baskets, wall hanging, grate-climbing vines, pots, planters and vertical succulent gardens came out great. They're ready for the big show in two weeks, the big show being Garden Walk Buffalo.

Figuring out what annuals go best where for each is a years-long learning process. I've forgone most flowering annuals because they need constant watering, fertilizing and deadheading. All things at which I do not excel. For most window boxes and baskets, I use coleus for color. They come in such varied colors and texture, and I don't have to worry about deadheading. And their color is constant.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A tour inside the Taj-ma-Shed...

The inside of the 'Taj-ma-Shed" is complete! I built the shed - pounded every single nail, laid every single shingle, cut every board. My wife and daughter did help with extreior painting, as well as held the ladder for me plenty of times, but other than that, I did it all myself. Well, okay, my friend Roger helped me put the counter top on the potting bench - that was HEAVY!

It's complete just in time too – a magazine is sending a photographer tomorrow to photograph it! And another local magazine is coming later in the week to shoot it. Both are for issues to be published next year.

Can't mention names, because I know that sometimes these things don't happen. Once, Martha Stewart Living magazine photographed my garden and the photos were never published. There's some great shots of my garden taken by a Toronto photographer, I've never seen, sitting on a hard drive somewhere in New York City. But I'm not bitter.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy as hellstrip

I finally, after many years, finished my hellstrip - the area between sidewalk and road. The spring hasn't been all about the shed!

Hellstrip with dead tree gone,
but stump remaining.
It was like this for three years.
It started off a grass strip with a dying horse chestnut tree. After watching the horse chestnut tree die for a few years, the city (who has the rights to the hellstrip property) came by and cut down the tree.

Then, after three years of asking the city when they were going to grind down the stump, they finally did. They planted a young tree to replace the dead tree. That was my cue to start planting there, since it seems the city was done doing what they were going to do.

The "grass" that was there was mostly crab grass, clover, and various weeds. They were all green, so it gave the appearance of grass. For a few years, this strip is the only reason I had a lawnmower, since the rest of the front yard is a grassless jungle of a garden.

Monday, June 13, 2016

10 of Buffalo's "Can't Miss" Gardens...

 
In no particular order, here are 10 extraordinary gardens you can't miss during Garden Walk Buffalo. There are 406 gardens on the tour this year, not a bad one among them. In my mind, these are some standouts - out of dozens and dozens of standouts. If you go on the tour, make sure you hit up gardens NOT in the densely populated areas of the map. Good gardens are all over.

1. (Above) Baynes Street Eight Paths Garden You'll have to pick up the Garden Walk Buffalo map to find out the exact address of this garden. Mike, the gardener, is a Garden Walk Buffalo volunteer and a great advocate of the Walk. You can also see this garden on Gardens Buffalo Niagara's Tours of Open Gardens - select hours on Thursdays and Fridays throughout July. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Spring around the spread


Last weekend I got done the bulk of the spring clean up. This weekend will be more concentrated projects, eating and drinking with friends, and perhaps the first kayak ride of the season.

Here's a round up of the activity around the spread...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Well kiss my tulips hello!

This was a great year for my tulips. During the Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto last year, each participant was given a certificate for 100 free bulbs from Colorblends Wholesale FlowerBulbs (seen above). I have to say - they are the tallest, most sturdy, longlasting bulbs I've ever had.

I'm no bulb collector or tulip hound, but from my little expereince with them, these have been the best performers I've ever had. The tulips I've had for years come back each year, maybe a few less each time. Many of them came from Holland - my wife was in Amsterdam and picked up a few bags with exotic colors – reds, oranges, yellows, purples, blues – and they all came up yellow. Buyer beware.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Before and After garden bench

I made this garden bench from a bed frame we had sitting in the basement for 15 years. It was my wife's grandmother's bed. At least this way we'll be able to appreciate it in the garden - rather than the basement.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Disney Concert Hall Garden and a bit of The Broad

The Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles holds a secret garden, The Blue Ribbon Garden,  that you would never know was even there walking by the alien exterior of the building.

A steep staircase off a busy sidewalk takes you to a rooftop public park/garden oasis, about an acre in size, with plenty of shady areas to sit and relax and take in the impressive architecture. Frank Gehry designed the building - and garden.

There are areas for kids performances, as well as serves as a pre- and post-performance reception area. It's also available for private events and children's programming.

One of its most unique features – other than the space-age design and materials is a fountain Gehry designed for its patron, Lillian Disney.

Disney was a rose collector – and collector of Royal Delft porcelain. According to the John Lithgow-narrated audio tour, Mr. Gehry himself said that the Delft wasn't that royal – in that she collected even cheap souvenir Delft as well.

Since she loved rose and her Delft porcelain, he created a large rose fountain made from Delft porcelain pieces and tiles.
Another feature of the building that was nature-inspired are the columns that support the building and mechanicals. Massive tree trunk-like wood-clad pillars give the lobby a sculptural forest-like vibe.
Free tours leave from the lobby daily. We had gotten there too late for the last tour but were able to take the audio tour (at no charge) and wander the building and garden at our leisure.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

New fence. Old fence.

Had a new cedar fence built last week. Finishing touches happen this week. 

Old picket fence? It's now the walls inside my new potting shed.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A potting table for the potting shed


Wow. I didn't post once in February. That's new.

It's been a crazy month. Thank god it was the shortest month of the year. We did a Caribbean cruise and a few days at Disney World at the end of January, then two weeks later did a six-day trip to Birmingham, England (Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, The Roman baths at Bath, and a monkey forest!).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My garden is in the Bible. The Garden Bible, that is...

 I made it into the Bible, you know, the good book, The Garden Bible, Designing your perfect outdoor space. Friend (and friend to Buffalo and its Garden Walk) Barbara Ballinger has written the garden bible and Buffalo is well represented. Even a little corner of my garden was snuck in there. 

She (and I) have been waiting patiently for its publication and release. I asked her id it was like giving birth – and she said it was worse! 

Where ever a Buffalo garden is featured, Garden Walk Buffalo got a nice mention. Photos from Buffalo were shot by either photographer Don Zinteck, or myself.

It's a 224-page hardcover book with glorious and generously sized photos throughout. There's plenty here for the beginner – and the pro – with design tips and lots of inspiration (20 case studies!). They're chapters on understanding your site and climate, developing a budget, hiring professionals, finding a style, design principles, recognizing problems – and a whole section on garden tours that features Garden Walk Buffalo prominently.

Currently it's available on Amazon, but it will be seeping out to bookstores in the coming weeks and months.

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