Friday, August 29, 2014

A train garden to beat all train gardens...

There are probably many more great train gardens out there, but this is the best I've come across in my travels. Though I have to admit, not being a train person, I don't seek them out. But I am impressed when someone's passionate hobby mashes up with a nice garden.

I should have expected something was up
when I saw this mailbox.
This garden in Hamburg, NY was on the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens - 90+ Open Gardens throughout Buffalo Niagara on Thursdays and Fridays for the month of July.

Here at Dave and Barb's Whit's End, the trainscapes are so well incorporated in to the gardens that it doesn't seem too train-y until you get in close. I didn't see it when the trains were running, but I'm sure it ups the experience even more. This is the first garden among the 90 or so gardens on the Festival's Open Gardens that I could see a kid wanting to stay in.
The area you first enter, in front of the garage is nice - and unassuming, considering the theme of the garden.
A former hot tub enclosure is now an enclosed sitting area.

Many fairy/miniature gardens can be found in pots and planters at the beginning of the garden.
They even made great use of a narrow dead-end side yard space.
LOVELY window box. Still no trains in sight.
More fairy gardens.
Looking down into the garden from the top of the stairs.

The garden's change in elevation happens in stairs.

Even the garden shed is designed to look like a train ticket station.

All good gardens have good names. The owner's last name is Whittemore.
All miniature trees are chosen to be in scale with the buildings surrounding the trains.
From the back of the garden looking toward the house.
The buildings and tell stories.
A collection of hosta lines the back fence. Can you name them? I know the one on the right is
Niagara Falls. Is the one on the left Guacamole?

A wheelbarrow and wheelchair friendly ramp gives an alternate access to the back of the yard.
Any hill in the back yard is camouflaged by the raised beds, stairs, and wheelchair-friendly ramp.
The sitting area even looks sort of like a train station waiting area.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My favorite garden discovery of 2014's Garden Walk

Like the classic mullet haircut, this garden is formal business in front and all party in the back! Shown above is the front yard garden and it could not be more formal with its four symmetric parterres of Japanese maples, perennials and boxwoods, all surrounding a great water fountain. The garden is on Norwood Avenue, down near the Summer end, for those that know the neighborhood.

Even though its underlying structure is formal, the plantings are looser and more casual, making a strict formal garden feel a little more "Buffalo-like." That may not be true once those outlining boxwoods grow in more together and get trimmed. Trimmed boxwoods instantly give a garden a crisper look.

We like our grassless front yards here in Buffalo, and most fall into the "Cottage-y" category, if they can be classified at all – jam-packed with little regard to spacing and color coordination.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The front yard is the blackyard

I wanted to show off the handsome Garden Walk Buffalo garden of Mark, on Richmond Avenue. I met Mark out at Italian Marble & Granite when I was there choosing the marble and granite scraps I was collecting from their dumpster for my project. Mark was there (for a fourth time, I think) collecting more marble and granite for his Garden Walk projects in his garden. The largest of his projects is seen above - two large "floating" pieces of marble smack dab in the middle of his front yard garden.

He painted the rocks black
with water seal paint.
The front garden is very small, but jam-packed with plants, all perennials. An overall "theme," if you can call it that, is the color black. The marble has much black in it, the mulch is black, and he's even painted the stones in the walkway black. The marble pieces above are resting on blocks that are covered with black marble – giving it that look of floating – as the blocks just disappear.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A hidden house on hosta hill

During the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens, I got to visit the home of Jayette and Steve. I've known them as casual acquaintances for many years and we've talked gardens before, but I never had the chance to go and actually visit their garden. They certainly underplayed their gardening hand! Their house is practically buried in hostas, and they have a spectacular wooded swale separating them from a busy road nearby.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fencing Garden Art

During Garden Walk Buffalo. I got out to visit just a few gardens I've never visited before. Local artist Sally Treanor had been in my garden – not once – but twice on Saturday alone for the Walk and I told her I'd try and get over to Richmond Avenue to see hers in the morning.

One thing Garden Walk Buffalo issue that has never been satisfactorily solved is the ability to have gardeners visit other gardener's gardens. During the Walk, we're all in our own gardens. Before the Walk, it's crunch time and we need the time to work on our own gardens. Following the Walk, and I'm only speaking from my own experience, I'm too tired of seeing and talking gardens that it's hard to muster the energy. 
We have tried though. We used to have either the Pre-Garden Walk Party, or the Thank You Party for the gardeners in people's back yards. That worked nicely – until the parties got too big!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Morty the Corpse Flower, on the verge...

I met Morty! The Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens has a star attraction currently. Morty (short for Morticia) the Corpse Flower (titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum) is set to bloom sometime within the next week. Commonly named because when in full bloom the flower will have the scent of a rotting mammal corpse. The smell will permeate not just the room in which the flower is located, but they are anticipating the smell to permeate the entire botanical gardens facility for the length of its bloom – usually 24-36 hours.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Garden Walk Buffalo Wrap Up

It was an exhilarating and exhausting week. It started on Thursday and never let up until Sunday evening. And then there was more.

Thursday saw Open Gardens, the National Garden Festival's Thursday and Friday free open gardens throughout Buffalo Niagara - 90+ gardens open for free! Mine was one of them – from 2-6 p.m. We did get pretty good traffic through - around three dozen each time we were open on a Thursday. Last year, we may have had two dozen for the entire month of July! It helps to have "Mary's Garden" on my street. That's a garden worth traveling for. Also on Thursday, the judges from Italian Marble and Granite came through to judge the scrap marble and granite "carpet" I made - more on that shortly.

Also on Thursday, around 6:30 p.m. Sally Cunningham, leading one of her AAA/Horizon Club Tours, stopped by on her "Heart of Garden Walk Tour." It was16 tourists, for the better part of an hour, in the garden for a light dinner catered by the Lexington Coop, which is across the street from my house.

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 Billy and Pat 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 – they're good editors. 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.


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