Monday, July 28, 2014

VIDEO Billy & Pat and me & my garden...

Newcomers to Buffalo, Billy & Pat, have done a vlog post on Garden Walk. Instead of the usual reporting on or about the Walk, they took a more practical approach by soliciting tips and tricks for people in their age and life circumstances (most likely many of their viewers) – newly married, just starting out in a new city (having come to Buffalo from New York), living in an apartment, and dreaming of owning their own home and growing a garden.

Hopefully Garden Walk Buffalo made them more crazy for Buffalo and more enthusiastic for owning a home. Though I cannot picture these two more enthusiastic than they already are.

Visit Buffalo Niagara made some suggestions as to gardens/gardeners that they might glean some tips from – that would represent the Walk well on camera. You can catch much of them goofing around in my garden, as well as goofing around in other great gardens. They can be silly, or they can be serious, but no one can argue that they aren't pros at communicating a message, or telling a story. They even made me sound coherent and knowledgeable on gardening. I guess I know what I've learned from mistakes. Thank god they didn't ask for a plant name, panic doesn't look good on camera.

They have a large (tens of thousands) and engaged following on their Youtube vlog, Billy & Pat Two Guys Who Got Married. I'd love to help them get more followers - visit their vlog and follow along on their adventures by subscribing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A TV makeover garden designer whose own garden took more than two days

One of the things I like most about being the area's chronicler of residential gardens, is that I still get astounded, in slacked-jawed awe, of a new spectacular garden that I never knew existed in our area. Such is the case of going on the Snyder Clevehill Garden View tour a couple weeks ago.

I came across the garden of Peter BonSey, a genuine TV show gardener. Peter was the garden designer on TLC's season 1 (2002-03) of While You Were Out, a reality series makeover show whose gimmick was that the redecoration was kept secret from the homeowner. Peter is/was also the founder of The English Gardener, a well-known Buffalo area landscape design firm. But he's also been a butcher, cabin boy, Naval officer, real estate salesperson, construction company owner, teacher, actor, chemical company owner, head hunter, convention planner, graphic artist, printing production manager, radio show host, and writer, among other things. He's retired from it all now, having mostly accomplished his goal of "...becoming an interesting old man." He does still do the occasional talk/lecture for groups.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A garden with nice jugs

Sorry. Had to go there (I cannot help myself).

I've got lots of posts in me, but alas, no time to write them Garden Walk Buffalo is in another week, and the National Garden Festival is up and running. I've got a bonafide HGTV star's garden to share (back when there were Gs in HGTV), as well as the best themed garden I've ever been in, and not a fairy garden - but a fairie VILLAGE. But you'll have to wait.

Sally Cunningham was by to film a short bit on
garden tourism for AAA this week. Remember –
the camera adds ten pounds and, there had to be, like,
ten cameras on me...
So far my garden has been on one bus tour (another coming next week), two open gardens, it's been filmed on live TV for Sally Cunningham's garden segment, filmed for an AAA garden tourism video, been shown in the Buffalo News twice, and a photographer is coming to photograph my window boxes later today. And next week is the big kahuna – more than 3,000 are expected to come through my yard on Saturday and Sunday. Garden Walk Buffalo will attract more than 60,000, so that's a mere sliver of the crowds.

But this post is about jugs – big ones and small ones. And vases, pots, and exquisite pottery too. I visited an Open Garden today in Hamburg, NY and I fell in love with the gardens of artist Vicki Warhol (good name for an artist). Not only does she have a great and glorious collection of hostas, but and even greater (and more glorious) collection of pottery. And the pottery seems as though it is paired with a curator's eye with the plants. This garden was bliss for this art director. Rather than me yak about it, take a peak at just some of her jugs – without commentary. I'll just get myself in more trouble.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My marble and granite area rug, or, how I spent my Fourth of July weekend

Lord help me, I've become a serial DIYer.

It started with me and my daughter going through
Italian Marble and Granite's dumpster for scraps,
roughing out the design to make sure we had enough.
I blame it on Garden Walk Buffalo sponsor Italian Marble and Granite. This year they've offered to any gardener on the Walk free marble and granite countertop scraps to anyone that wants them for a creative project. On top of that, they will judge the projects in advance of the Walk and a winner will be announced. The winner will receive a $500 gift certificate for a custom marble or granite project in their home.

I really wasn't going to do another large-scale project before the Walk. I did my hanging succulent garden, and that was going to be my major Garden Walk project this year. I try to do one unique garden feature each year, with the deadline being the Walk. This makes two.

I've wanted to do something like this for years, but how often does someone come along and say, "You can have all the granite and marble scraps you want, you just have to come here to pick them up." They couldn't have made it easier for me if they'd tried. Well, okay, they could have delivered it, but, hey.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Rochester Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale purchase

The big steel and glass leaf, in blue, on the left was this year's purchase. Last year's is on the right. The leaves are a collaboration between Rochester NY-area steel artist Kathy Kosel and glass artist Tom Zachman.

Both had booths at the National Garden Festival's Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale held last Sunday here in Buffalo.

I love my new leaf. Hopefully next year, I can buy another to complete the collection!

To the right here, you can see them in context with the rest of the ever-getting-busier gardens. In the foreground is my own copper creation - a heuchera (coral bell) fountain. It's hard to see because it's camouflaged in a bed of huechera!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's garden tour season! AAA garden tours around Buffalo (and beyond)...

Plant Collector's Tour - the Shadrack's Smug Creek Gardens for daylilies and hostas.
Sally Cunningham, a woman
out standing in her field.
The National Garden Festival has a full slate of luxury garden tours this season – starting soon! This year, they've been re-branded the Sally Cunningham Garden Discovery Tours, as Sally Cunningham, WIVB Channel 4 TV gardening personality, Buffalo News columnist, Buffalo Spree Magazine writer, book author,  garden center expert, and horticultural consultant, has been hired to organize and host these tours along with garden tours outside of the region, including the Hudson Valley and New York City (she just led a full tour to the Chelsea Flower Show in May). There will also be a Caribbean cruise!

The tours are a project of AAA and its tour division, Horizon Club Tours. The bus tours are aboard AAA's luxury motorcoach – including wi-fi, restroom and comfy seats. Each motorcoach tour includes Sally as your guide, refreshments/meals vary, and some trips include shopping opportunities. All promise to be a good time – laugh along with Sally and learn a lot too!

Touring gardens by motorcoach and a knowledgeable guide is a great way to see gardens – no crowds from the weekend garden tours; the gardeners are available to talk to an learn from; there's no time pressure of trying to get in dozens of gardens like on a weekend tour; you'll make immediate friends with dozens of fellow travelers; food, drink (and shopping) needs are met (depending upon the tour, obviously); and nothing beats a guide that knows their stuff! And a bus driver that does all the driving for you – no worries about timing, directions, parking and more.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale this weekend!

The third annual Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale is happening this weekend - Sunday, June 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Delware Park Lodge, 84 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo.

We have 39 or 40 vendors of arts and crafts related to the garden. To participate, you have to be a creator, or vendor of items inspired by the garden or nature. Most vendors are artists that create art for the garden - sculptures, furniture, obelisks, birdbaths, wind chimes, birdhouses, glass work and so on. But materials from which items are made are wood, steel, glass, stone, copper and more.

Purple Chair-ity's planter chairs.
I am one of the many organizers of the event. When I say many, there really are just six or seven of us. We have the full support of Buffalo's National Garden Festival (which really means we have the support of Visit Buffalo Niagara, our visitors bureau), as well as great planning support, and the space to use at no charge, from the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another garden art acquisition

My brother and brother-in-law own a couple apartment buildings in Binghamton, NY. In one of the garages, they found some carved wood – large pieces of carved wood – carved by a former tenant and left behind. This one is six feet tall. There were a few others that had a horizontal orientation. If they're still there for my next visit, I may be tempted to take those too.

This totem they were going to burn in the family campfire a few weeks ago. Being the scavenger that I am, I purloined it from its impending torching to do something with it in my garden. There were also dozens of carved wooden sticks, all carved in different patterns, all about two feet long. I have to figure out what to do with those as well.

Buffalo gardens are becoming more and more well known for their re-purposed and/or found art. This certainly qualifies.

I think I'll poke around the basement and see what color wood stains I have that I could stain it with. Then I'll put a protective coat of polyurethane. Then the tough part. Where to put it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The well-hung succulents

The succulent frame, my winter project is now 99% complete. I hung it on the wall of the house this week. It was too heavy – especially after the occasional heavy rains we've had in the last few weeks. My neighbor Eric tried to help, but it was obvious that it was going to take four men with sturdy backs, strong hearts, healthy knees, and strong shoulders.

All my friends are my age. I don't know any with sturdy backs, strong hearts, healthy knees, and strong shoulders. So I did it myself.

I bought some heavy-duty eyelet screws and screwed them deeply into the wall just below the window. i used the straps with buckles from my kayak ties and lashed the frame to the eye bolts. Then I inched the frame into place onto the cleat I had bolted to the wall weeks before. It was still sweat-inducing work, but I managed to do it by myself – every second expecting it to fall to the ground smashing fantastically and ruining months of work.

I looked the next morning and it was still there. No budging. I only now have to do some spot painting of the frame where there was some chipping.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The bell tolls for Fathers Day

We've been searching for the perfect bell (for years) to use with our "Ring bell, if no answer, pull weeds." mosaic plaque – hand made for us by my friend Siobhan of Siobhan's Magical Garden Transformations in Florida, formerly of Buffalo, formerly my boss.

This Father's Day was the day. My wife found it on a trip to Germany and had to carry it in her luggage for three days. I think my daughter has still yet to chip in on it. I'm staying out of that transaction.

For Garden Walk Buffalo this year, I might take the clapper out of it so more weeds get pulled.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garden media whore...

My coral bell fountain in The Buffalo News.
Last week was a huge garden media week for us here at the Charlier Gardens. It started off with a quarter-page photo of my handmade copper coral bell fountain in the bed of coral bells (heuchera) in The Buffalo News, along with a quote from me about what the "talk" will be for this year's Garden Walk - the article written by lifestyle editor and columnist Susan Martin. Spoiler alert: topic of discussion this year will be the long and harsh winter.
The online version of The Buffalo News Article
The photo and quote were also on the online version of the newspaper.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Not as hellish of a strip this year

From my office window.
Last year's project, the start of reclaiming the hellstrip (the area between sidewalk and street) has has been, so far, a success. Starting with nothing but a green slice of a mix of clover, creeping Charlie, purslane, dandelions, mushrooms, and even a smattering of grass, it was a harsh bit of real estate for grass to grow well. 

Mostly by dividing grasses and hostas from other areas of the garden, with a few purchased acquisitions, I filled in the majority of the strip.

Next up, I want to add a small area of brick, or concrete pavers where the garbage cans spend a day waiting to be picked up each week. at the end of the driveway.

I also want to line the street side with pavers as well, so people getting out of their cards don't have to step into a garden. Lastly, I want to add a row of lavendar along the sidewalk to mirror the lavender across from it on the other side of the sidewalk. Rather than buying lavender, I'm thinking about rooting my own from the plants that are there already. That way I know it'll be the same exact cultivar. There's a lot of different lavenders out there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spring garden assessments...

The springtime assessment of the gardens is late this year. Because of the harsh and long winter, I did loose a few things (helped by rabbits). Most garden beds are doing well, but not all.

Above is the front yard. The spring flowers are all purple - iris, allium, grape hyacinths. They mix well with the blues of the bachelor buttons and the forget-me-nots. And with the green house with the purple trim and flower boxes as a backdrop makes this art director very happy.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Coral Bells are ringing

My coral bells (heuchera) are looking great. They're really the first color in the garden each year, even before the snowdrops and daffodils. I planted this bed two years ago to feature the handmade copper coral bell fountain I made. A couple plants burned up last summer, and a couple didn't make it through the winter (the seem to heave out of the ground a bit) but the ones that survived are happy, as you can see in these photos taken yesterday.

I maintain  the the heuchera are a better choice for your garden than most perennials and even annuals. They come in so many colors (reds, golds, yellows, chartreuse, green, purple – dappled, veined, variegated), textures (smooth, fuzzy, shiny) and sizes – and keep their color throughout the year – even under the snow. Rather than spending beaucoup bucks on seasonal coleus for color, heuchera are a much better value.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Garden in the News

I had nothing to do with this, I swear.

As I was paging through a special Buffalo News supplement this morning, the Discover magazine, I was noticing hat Garden Walk Buffalo was not listed in any of the events or festival listings. Just as I was putting on my Garden Walk marketing hat and telling myself I was going to have to write a letter to the magazine's editor, I turned the page and saw, not only a full-page article on the Walk, but a quarter-page photo of my house!

This is not one of my photos or the Garden Walk's collection of Don Zinteck photos, which means it's a Buffalo News file photo.

I'm a marketing guy, and am surely one to promote my own garden profusely (why else would one have a garden blog?), but it's kinda nice to have my garden promoted and recognized (other than by me) because I'm doing something right as a gardener.


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