Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A garden to follow, part 2

The Buffalo News has been following the progress of the garden of Jennifer & Jim Guercio, as they head crashingly toward their deadline of maximum gardenosity, Garden Walk Buffalo. The News' three part series is actually following the work being done to the home they own and rent out. It's just about behind their own home, on a different street. Part one of the series can be found here.

The complete article and a short video can be found here. What's great about this particular "installment" is the instruction Jennifer gives for laying patio bricks in a short video. She demonstrates how to set bricks in place with "gloves, a trowel, a mallet, strong knees, strong back and a Celebrex at night."

The article series, by Buffalo News writer Anne Neville, is great promotion for Garden Walk, but I especially like the informative video. Jennifer makes for a good "teacher" and shows how easy it is to lay a brick patio for almost anyone (if not for the repetitive aspect of the procedure she demonstrates around 1,500 times to finish off her patio project).

There are also some great tips at the end of the article from Jennifer, a few she's shared with me over the years, including using bungee cords to train branches upwards, rather than pruning for redirecting branches upwards and reshaping trees.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Buffalo gardens in "Easy Weekend Gardening" magazine

Left: 75 Lancaster is on page 10, across the street, 72 Lancaster is on page 31.

Two Buffalo gardens are represented in this month's issue of Garden Gate's Easy Weekend Gardening magazine. Whereas the owners of the gardens might take issue with the "easy" part, I'm sure they're delighted to be featured again in a Garden Gate publication.

One garden, is on page 10, under the title of "A balancing act." With some great hints about how to keep a garden casual with plant choices, yet formal in its structure. It shows the front porch of 75 Lancaster Avenue. If you click here, the front porch staircase in the garden can be seen in their little slide show as the first "place-holder" image. This garden was also featured in Better Homes & Garden's Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living. Past posts about this garden in magazines can be found here, here, and here.

The other garden is on page 31, under the title of "Growing a fabulous fence." It has some good suggestions on how to take advantage of a fence with plantings and to promote privacy. This garden is at 72 Lancaster Avenue. The OUTSIDE of this fence has been featured on the covers of both Garden Gate magazine and People, Places, Plants, and has appeared, in bits, in other publications by Garden Gate. This is the first a photo of the INSIDE of this garden has been published. Past posts about this garden in magazines can be found here, here, and here

And the wild thing about these two gardens? They are directly across the street from each other. On the page 31 photo, if you look through the gate, you can see the white fence of the garden on page 10. The view across the street for these two gardens are each other. Both are popular garden stops during Garden Walk Buffalo. In full disclosure, this is also my street. I live at the other end. The street is only one (long) block long. We jokingly refer to their end of the street as "Upper" Lancaster.

Again, as is Garden Gate's editorial policy, the gardens are not attributed–no gardener credit, no city mention and not even zone information. The tips shared are great, there are usually plants lists, but seems that at least mentioning the climate zone would be useful. These are not gardens to be replicated in much warmer than our zone 6 designation. The ideas behind the design still do, but the plants won't necessarily.

We're very proud of the magazine-worthy gardens on our street. Well, until the city catches on that it's a very desirable street–then our assessments will go up. More.

How many magazine worthy gardens are on your street?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Need your input on a Fling in Buffalo in '10

There's a couple options when it comes to the date we settle on for Garden Bloggers Buf-fling '10 / Buffa10 / Buffalo Fling '10 / Flinging Buffalo '10 / Buffalo Shuf-Fling 2010 / BuffaFling '10 / BufFling '10 / A Fling in the Buff '10, or whatever it's called.

To Walk, or not to Walk
Basically the options come down to two–have everyone gather during Garden Walk Buffalo, or not (probably a few weeks in advance of the Walk).

Chicago Spring Fling planners took on this spectacularly good looking group in '09. Photo by Flatbush Gardener.

The benefit of having a Fling before Garden Walk Buffalo is more time spent as a group with focused activities, like a few garden visits, most likely speakers. Maybe some side trips that are garden-related, like a hike, botanical garden tour or visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake or the Canadian Botanical Gardens in Canada (Does everyone have passports?). This would be more along the lines of the Chicago Fling, but with maybe more learning/speaker opportunities.

Garden Walk Buffalo attracts between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors from around the U.S. and Canada.

A benefit of having a fling during Garden Walk Buffalo (July 24 & 25, 2010) is there would be more than 340 creative urban gardens for you to visit (all free, with free shuttle buses). It's overwhelming, but the Buffalo crew could point you in the direction of the must-see gardens. You could tour 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at your own pace and do it in groups, or on your own. We'd meet up Saturday and Sunday evenings for dinners & a party to talk gardens. It's the largest garden tour in the U.S., and if the majority of potential Flingers were interested in attending, we want you to have that opportunity. We'd still have (part of) Thursday and all day Friday for group focused activities, speakers, botanical garden visit and/or a select garden tour.

During Chicago's Fling, I heard both sides from a few different people. Some suggested each Fling city find what's unique to them and make it their own–no two Flings being alike.

Unique to Chicago–urban gardens and great public spaces like the Lurie Garden.

Others liked very much the chance to see some gardens, but commented they wished there'd been more sharing of information on writing, blogging softwares, copyright concerns, how to get published, photography and more.

Please vote in the upper right hand corner survey if you're considering attending. Please leave a comment either below here, over at Gardening While Intoxicated, or if you'd like some privacy, email BuffaloFling (at) yahoo.com.

We'd like to settle this as quickly as possible to get you a date to plan around, and hotel arrangements started. And you can arrange to have the spouse, children or squirrels to take care of your garden while you're away.

I've always wanted a Fling in the Buff. But that's just me.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Last weekend we went on the trip of a lifetime. Okay, my lifetime. I am a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan. Somehow that has rubbed off on my daughter (11). She wants to be an architect (she's got four female architectural mentors in our circle of friends). For her birthday trip (we don't give gifts for birthdays, we make memories by going on trips together) she wanted to go to Wright's Fallingwater, in Bear Run, PA (a five-plus hour drive from Buffalo). This brought tears of joy to a father's eyes.

The first built-in planter. Outside, on the approach to the house, built-in planters are incorporated into the bridge over the creek. These planters are sort of a bridge themselves, bridging the woodland path to the stone work of the house foundation.

I will spare you my impressions of the 1937 house, and how Wright redefined how one can live in a house, and how a structure can be one with its environment, how to incorporate innovation while at the same time utilizing centuries-old craftsmanship. I won't even belabor the point that this building, as with most Wright buildings, still looks futuristic–after almost 100 years! It's been said Wright is the only American-born person considered a genius. But now I'm gushing. Maybe I'm not sparing you much.

Skipping you all the design commenting I could blather on about, I will concentrate on how, at Fallingwater, he incorporated the setting into the house and the house into the setting, with plants. The house was built for Edgar Kaufman, of Pittsburgh's Kaufman's Department Stores (now Macys).

Rhododendrons are everywhere. They are native here and there are hundreds and hundreds around the property.

First off, as you walk from the visitor's center to the house, you are struck by the seemingly thousands of native rhododendrons. They literally surround the path and property. If I do get there again, I have to make sure it's when the rhododendrons are in bloom. You also notice the structure of the stone in the woods–the horizontal, blocky, masses of layered stone cantilever over each other, in a cubist fashion, along the path to the house. By the time you get the first glimpse of the house, you can see where he stole the "vernacular" for the building–from the creek bed itself. The cantilevered terraces jut into the trees, maximize its setting and multiply the living space of the home.

The cutting garden on the walk to the house.

On the way to the house, you pass the cutting garden. Every room of the house has flowers. Every room. Having an organic, natural element in each room was mandatory in a Wright house. That being so, he ensured it in most rooms by creating built-in planters inside and even on the exterior of the house.

Before you even walk in, plants/planters greet you at the doorway. The stone was quarried on-site.

Rather than fancy artglass, as can be found in other Wright homes, nothing obscures the view of the outdoors from the inside. Even the corners of the rooms are glass butting glass. With most rooms cantilevered, outside walls are not weight-bearing. Wright took advantage by having the corners of rooms disappear. From any room, with windows open, you hear the waterfall below. A boat-like stairwell, covered with glass doors takes you right down to the creek for a swim from the living room.

Originally, the Kaufmans wanted the house sited across from the falls to take advantage of the view. Wright suggested the house be part of the waterfall. It made the cover of Time magazine in January, 1938. And history was made. Fallingwater is a piece of art that can be walked through.

A built-in planter in the living room, on either end of the built-in sofa.

The inside view, looking outward from Mrs. Kaufman's bathroom.

Mrs. Kaufman's terrace looking toward her bathroom window with the plants. No need for blinds or screen or draperies here.

Their son's room terrace hosts an herb garden. This is the upper-most terrace on the third floor.

The "back door" which leads to the guest house gets this semi-circle indoor/outdoor built in planter with a moss garden.

The window pane actually cuts the planter in two.

The moss garden planter from outside.

Opposite the indoor/outdoor moss garden planter is its inspiration – moss and ferns growing on the rocks the house is built around

On a little-used terrace, a small tree peeks around the corner. Above it is a roof-line built-in planter with trailing vines.

The spring-fed guest house pool, in the woods, surrounded by rhododendrons. Wisteria arbor above.

Even the pool has a built-in planter.

Gratuitous shot of the rimless open windows.

Gratuitous shot of the expansive living room.

Gratuitous shot of one of the sitting areas of the living room.

Gratuitous shot of the fireplace and the existing boulder that was incorporated into the floor.

Gratuitous shot of another sitting are of the living room. All furniture, textiles and art are original to the Kaufmans from when they lived there.

Gratuitous shot of the stairwell from the living room to the creek.

Gratuitous shot of the guesthouse living room.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Potager Progress

On bloom day, I got so many comments about the rose standard, I thought it would be a good time to show it in the context of its setting–in the middle of the raised-bed vegetable potager garden.

From the side: beans on the left just getting started. Tomatoes along the back. Some unenthusiastic basil and dill in the front. It sits beside my steppable grasses checkerboard, which I hesitate to show because it's so weedy right now. To the far right are more roses climbing an arbor over the front of the garage.

I've posted plenty times about the potager (most recently here), inspired by a trip to the formal vegetable gardens of Villandry, in France, a few years back. The potager is divided in four sections, with space for climbers, or support-needy plants, in the back along a copper lattice. Each section is divided by a pea-gravel path and miniature boxwoods. The boxwoods were planted just last year, so they've not grown together to form solid walls. That's the plan, god-willing.

The rose was purchased as a standard, it's variety is "Polar Joy."

The Villandry gardens contain much symbolism, with rose standards representing the hunched-over monks at constant toil in the gardens. Mine? The best description I've heard of mine is from NellJean's comment from my bloom-day post–it looks like a "bouquet on a stick." I can live with that.

There's also a dwarf apple espalier starting around the outside of the raised bed, planted just last year. It's knee-high, intended to surround the front of the garden. That's a slower-going project. Stole that idea not only from Villandry, but I saw it at Monet's garden in Giverny as well. Don't know who he stole the idea from. With the problems of my dwarf apple tree on my diamond-shade espalier (dusty mildew & galls) I'm a bit nervous for these little guys. But I press on.

You can see the young dwarf apple espalier in the foreground. It also served as a rabbit snack in the spring as they chew the weaker branches. You can also see my happy clematis in the background

That's just the plants going into the garden design. The vegetables planted include lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes (this is my first year with trying heirlooms), arugula, dill, peppers, basil and green beans. The gardens of Villandry were filled with Swiss chard and kale, and other vegetables that are full of color and spectacular to look at, but not vegetables we would ever eat.

This weekend is the first harvest of lettuce. Second planting is going in this weekend too. I may have to cheat and buy plants to fill in before the thousands come through for Garden Walk.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Traffic Circle #2–Another Round

Buffalo is blessed with an urban landscape designed by none other than Frederic Law Olmsted, inspired in large part by the parkland, boulevards, and squares of Paris. Our system of parks, parkways and traffic circles make up one of his largest bodies of work (completed around 1896).

From any direction, this circle makes for a pleasing substitute for the former asphalt runway this intersection was when I came to Buffalo in 1980.

One of the most compelling aspects of the parkways are the traffic circles incorporated into many of our neighborhoods. Last post on a traffic circle I did was Gates Circle, the traffic circle at the end of my street. This time, I chose Ferry Circle at the intersection of Richmond Avenue & West Ferry Street, 'cause it looks particularly nice this time of year.

The original circle was much smaller. The circa 1909 light standard, probably gas fed, was taken away in the 1930s. The 6,500 lb. reproduction, a twin to the light standard in Symphony Circle, the traffic circle just up the street, was installed in 2002.

The original circle on this site was built around 1870 (accommodating horse & carriage traffic) In 1920, it looked like the photo to the left. In the 1930s it was completely paved over. In 1980, when I came to Buffalo, it was just a huge intersection with insufferable red lights and a congestion-causer. There was nothing in the center of the intersection–just a huge expanse of asphalt pedestrians feared to cross. My old house was not too far from this circle and I drove around it nearly every day. The new circle is a vast aesthetic improvement over the past intersection.

I'm liking the purple, green & orange combos this time of year.

In 2002, ground was broke to remake a circle, including an exact replica of the light standard that was originally there. Partners in this resurrection were the City of Buffalo, Erie County, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Richmond Neighborhood Association, the Symphony Circle Steering Committee, Kleinhans Community Association, Colgate Industries, and the Rupp Foundation.
Olmsted's idea of the circles and parkways was to serve as a means for a visitor to travel from one park to another (Delaware, Cazenovia, Front, South Park, Riverside, and Martin Luther King, Jr. parks) without leaving the park setting, as well as extending the parks into the city.

Wish a plant list existed for the circle. Others could benefit from its design.

The circle's gardens had the soil replaced, compost, organic fertilizers and mulch were added. Grass areas were aerated and mowed at a higher level than would normally be done. A drip irrigation system was installed. Herbaceous and woody perennials were planted to improve soil and reduce water runoff.

One thing sadly lacking on the otherwise insightful Olmsted Conservancy website is a complete plant list of what is planted in the circle.

I know many hate circles because they can be tough to navigate if you're unfamiliar with the rules (PEOPLE IN THE CIRCLE HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!!!). But I love them for their traffic-calming (you have to slow down as you approach), and the lack of traffic lights (traffic flows better).

My big compliant with this circle is that there are stop signs all around. They should ideally be yield signs. Traffic circles don't need stop signs to work well–and actually keep traffic halting by using the stop signs. Another problem with this traffic circle is that nearby traffic circles, both larger and smaller, have yield signs. The inconsistent use of yield or stop signs in our circles, I think, just leads to more confusion.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 09

Went away for a quick weekend trip and came back to this rose standard in my potager garden just screaming at me.

Roses are a little beat up. House was painted last week, and they were roughed up a bit.

A flower in bloom, whose name I've forgotten. It's in the Harry Potter garden.

Lantana along the posts of the trellis.

My big peony.

The over-stimulated clematis.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Show me your clematis, I'll show you my peony...

I'm told I have a rather large peony of which other men would be jealous. Oh, what the heck, I'll show you both. They're side by side and bloom at the same time.

From bottom up, May apples, peony, clematis and million bells in cone-shaped basket.

From left to right on uprights, Dutchman's pipe, honeysuckle, clematis, chocolate akebia vine.
Below them are a mishmash of ferns, grasses, May apples, bleeding heart, hosta peony and, special guest star this season, a silver dollar plant. Next year, I take one-third of the stuff out of there. It's gotten to be too much of a jungle and needs more definition between plants, so they can be better appreciated. Though they're all happy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gardening Blogging Infuencing

Photo by Flatbush Gardener

I can't wait until next year for the Garden Bloggers Fling to come to Buffalo. Just reading the dozens and dozens of posts on the Chicago event makes me realize what an incredible PR opportunity it will be to have everyone visit. I will definitely be getting in touch with our local convention & visitors bureau to see what they can do for us. The potential of hundreds of blog posts, all remarking positively (an assumption) on our gardens, architecture, creativity and friendliness is immeasurable.

It sounds kinda cold–I do appreciate the connections with the people I made while in Chicago. As a group, the 50-some (in number, not necessarily age) bloggers are genuinely nice people who automatically have many things in common–gardening, writing, photography, technology, eating and drinking. What more is there?

And then, there's this.
Sitting with the Troy-Bilt rep on the bus touring gardens, we got talking about what's in this "Spring Fling" for Troy-Bilt. I'm in marketing/advertising and I'm always interested in a business's "angle" and the decisions they make to spend marketing dollars. I know it's all based on research. It's hard to get a corporation to spend money without knowing the ROI (Return On Investment) before hand.

Troy-Bilt donated a good-sized tiller as a door prize (value, $600), sponsored part of the event, sent their rep from Charlottesville to Chicago to join us for the weekend and even, when there was major confusion over the bar tab at a dinner for 54, picked up the bar tab. (Had I only known that before I ordered only one drink...) Don't drink and mow!

What do they get in return?
Invaluable PR. She shared with me, and the entire group the night before, that the top ten garden blogs reach around 400,000 readers per month. She even quickly showed me the list of the top ten garden blogs that her advertising agency, specialists in social media, had sent her. Many of the top garden bloggers were at Chicago's Spring Fling.

Think about that. Just the top ten gardening blogs reach almost half a million readers. To reach that many targeted gardeners, that either use Troy-Bilt products, or may consider their products, with any decent frequency (most may be repeat readers) would cost quite a bit in print or broadcast. Donating a $600 tiller, showing up and supporting the group and even buying a round (or two) of drinks, is a great value for the goodwill they've created.

My garden is way too small for a power tool beyond an electric weed-whacker. And even then, once I've gotten rid of the last couple square feet of grass, I can get rid of the weed-whacker. I'd consider Troy-Bilt, if I did need a tool or tractor, just 'cause they've been good to me and my friends.

Actually, in the drawing for the tiller, Buffalo buddy Elizabeth from Garden Rant/Gardening While Intoxicated won it! But sobriety set in quickly and she decided that in her garden (even smaller than mine) a tiller would be useless and she offered it up to be re-raffled. The winner, I'm sure, will put it to good use. And blog about it. In retrospect, Elizabeth wished she'd accepted it and donated it to one of our local urban garden organizations, who'd have put it to good use also. She's even got a post on Garden Rant with a Troy-Bilt cordless electric trimmer review and give-away this week.

See, look at me. I don't use their products, nor have a need. I don't review products on my site, I don't have advertising on my site, and I'm here extolling the virtues of Troy-Bilt! I also know big brother is watching (with Google Alerts) and their ad agency and marketing people will be aware of this post within moments after it's published.

Who knew what actual influence garden bloggers have? Most of us, I'm sure, consider this a hobby/interest/passion/creative outlet. But what changes when smart advertisers consider garden blogs a targeted media of which they should be taking advantage.

And how will Buffalo benefit from the (potentially good) PR coming from 50 or so bloggers next year, each writing a couple posts, read by, possibly millions? Posts will get published almost immediately. They are available on the web almost indefinitely. Will it help inch us away from the snowy, rust belt image that seems to melt every time someone visits from out of town? We can only hope.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Outdoor Art

This has less to do with gardening and more about art. But with a moniker of Art of Gardening, I would be remiss to not inject some art occasionally.
Not that I need justification. I can post about aphid infestations, I can certainly post about more enlightening fare.

Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851

This past Saturday was Art Alive, an art show sponsored by the Albright Knox Art Gallery encouraging groups to recreate works of art, by being the works of art. And with cash prizes! It was held on the lawn of the Albright Knox, so technically it's temporary lawn art, so I feel comfortable posting about it on a garden blog. Here's a few of what we saw.

Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34, 1971. Collection of the Albright Knox.
Above, my favorite of the day.

Walter Haskell Hinton, Betsy Ross presenting the Old Glory, 1950.

Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-6

Norman Rockwell, Girl at Mirror, 1954

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (detail), c. 1942

Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930
Above, the youngest participants of the day. No one can do dour like eight-year-olds.

Henri Matisse, La Musique (Music), 1939

Georges Seurat, Models (detail), 1887-8

Above and below, another Seurat, this one featuring my daughter–covering themselves with candy dots and dot stickers to bring home the pointillist aspect. They also handed out free candy. This may have contributed to them receiving the "People's Choice" award, for their category, for the day.

Georges Seurat, Models (detail)


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