Kayak trip to the test gardens

This weekend my wife & I kayaked in Lake Erie from Broderick Park (a short, 4 minute drive from our house, walking distance if we didn't lug kayaks) to the Erie Basin Marina, where our local test garden for annuals is located. It wasn't a great distance, but it was about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there and 50 minutes (downriver) to get back, with time for a water break and stroll through the Marina gardens while there. Here's some of what we saw.

Drop point. Broderick Park, down by Rich Products (they make that white powdered stuff you put in your coffee, among other things) on the Blackrock Canal, between the Bird Island Pier (on the right) and shore (left). On the other side of the pier is where Lake Erie narrows and starts its short route to go over the Falls and into Lake Ontario. I posted a while back about our hike through the Niagara Gorge, where this water is headed.

That's the Peace Bridge seen above, with standstill traffic of frustrated drivers trying to get to Canada for the long weekend. We're trying to get a new bridge built -- we're on year 12 of talking about it. Don't ask. This was built in 1927. It is totally inadequate for modern-day travel.

Next? Scullers. They snuck up on us. Didn't hear 'em comin'. I think this is a Buffalo Seminary (an independent all-girls high school) team, as they were all girls, young, and none were wheezing.

The newest Frank Lloyd Wright structure in Buffalo, The Charles and Marie Fontana Boathouse, was designed (originally for Madison, WI) in 1905, redrawn in 1930 and built in 2006. TV Writer & producer Tom Fontana help raise the money for its construction and leaned on friends Mary Tyler Moore, Blythe Danner and Grant Tinker to join television producer Diane English and newsman Tim Russert (may he rest in peace), both Buffalo natives, to contribute to the cause.

The Buffalo Yacht Club, formed in 1860. Note there are no yachts. Good lunches with great view of the water though.

The Moondance party boat. Rented out for everything from wedding parties to office parties. Friendly crowd.

It wasn't very windy this day, but the trees have a permanent blown look to them. Tough to be a tree on a waterfront.

The Miss Buffalo passed us by. It's a waterfront tour boat that's also available for parties and such.

Heading towards the Marina. Above the dark red marker above the back end of the kayak you can just barely see the ghost images of the nine HUGE windmills on the waterfront on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel plant.

Waterfront condos on the marina. There are other clumps of condos there, but this had the stone block & plants along it which softened the look of the shoreline. The tall building in the background is the HSBC building, our tallest, at 40 floors.

Finally, back on the ground again. In the Marina Test Gardens.

The photo does not do justice to the color of these Verbena Lanai in red and purple, a test plant by Syngenta Flowers.

And end-of-season shot of the miniature sunflowers. They were much more impressive in July.

What's killer right now is the coleus.

These coleus looked good in July, but they're screamin' now.

Millet Jade Princess are the brown fuzzys amongst the assorted annuals. All these will be on the market (if they test well) in one to two years.

During Garden Walk Buffalo they let visitors choose their favorite plants. I chose this, Salvia Sallyfun Blue Tune. The Commercial Growers did too.

These were my favorite of the day - Sunflower Fuzzy Face, by Burpee. When these hit the market, they'll sell well!

The "Chinaman's Lighthouse," so named for it's unique Chinese-hat-like top, was built in 1866.

Down river, Miss Buffalo (left), the USS Little Rock guided missile cruiser (center), permanently docked & on exhibit in the Buffalo Naval Park, and the Skyway (right). You can barely see it, but our auditorium, where the Buffalo Sabres play, is cut off on the right. Today there was just an ever-so-subtle scent of Cheerios in the air. A General Mills factory is just beyond the arena and when they're making Cheerios, on a warm day with little wind, the city smells like them. It's a good scent. Reminds me of childhood (I was a Cheerios-eater in my youth).

Back in the water for the trip back. Condos galore. Gotta be cold down here in the winter, though it's beautiful now. That imposing pointy building is city hall.

Some of the most expensive real estate in western New York.

Good use of ivy to cover the early '80s architecture.

Have to share the waterways with many. I assume they're Canada Geese, Canada's just the other side of the break wall.

Also share the route with bicyclers, walkers, joggers and fishermen. It's a long break wall.

Back by the Frank Lloyd Wright boathouse.

And I'll spare you shots of us trying to get OUT of the kayaks at the end of the trip. Sometimes we drive or bike down to the Marina -- in addition to the test gardens, there's a restaurant "shack," the marina itself, an observation tower, an ice cream stand, a new park around the terminus of the Erie Canal, the Naval Park and more. Often we go just to watch the sun set over Canada. It's good to remind ourselves, every so often, that we live on a Great Lake.


  1. Fabulous photos of a part of the world I've never been to. Thank you for the tour. I hope the plants "test well," as you put it. I'd certainly spend money on the coleus!

  2. Grace,
    You'll have to get here sometime. A Garden Blogger Fling perhaps? The coleus are fine, but I want to get my hands on one of those fuzzy-faced sunflowers.

  3. what a tease! i want that millet! i like all the fuzzy things also...


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