Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garden Walk Buffalo has a fans at Fine Gardening and Martha Stewart Living

Totally irrelevant to this post, this is the house of Cornelius, and his garden at 75 Lancaster Avenue.

Yeah, I know, you're sick & tired about me blathering on about Garden Walk. Well, for this post, I'm going to let you read the writings of Stacey Hirvella, Senior Associate Gardening Editor, Martha Stewart Living; and Kerry Ann Moore, contributor to Fine Gardening magazine as THEY blather on about Garden Walk Buffalo.

First, some quotes from Stacey's post on the "Living on 112, The Martha Stewart Living Radio Blog:"

"My weekend in Buffalo was fantastic, I can speak about it only in superlatives. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I've been involved with during my time with the magazine, so forgive me for gushing!"

"The thing that impressed me most about Buffalo is the people and their level of community involvement. The Martin house has 400 volunteers, for example. There are all sorts of community gardens and community beautification projects like the 16th Street Block Alliance (a very cool stop on the Garden Walk)."

"As a gardener, though, I was absolutely floored by Urban Roots Community Garden Center."

"Most people wouldn't think of Buffalo as an epicenter of American horticulture, but it looks like gardening may be their official pastime."

Read her full long, gushing post here, complete with photos. If you've got the time, read all the comments too!

There's Kerry in the black jacket, center(ish) with an empty glass. She's looking at Sally Cunningham, Western New York's gardening queen of all media. On the left, in red, is Steve Aitken, editor of Fine Gardening, directly below him, Stacey Hirvella of Martha Stewart Living, and, in the blue shirt, is Stacey's husband Adam, a rooftop garden consultant, sculptor and chicken wing connoisseur.

And Kerry, from Fine Gardening posts on their blog:

"Buffalo provided a warm welcome and a free inspirational show of 341 home gardens throughout its community last weekend. I was among thousands of appreciative garden goers hoofing up, down, and all around the city."

"I enjoyed seeing the streets alive with activity. Kids selling lemonade, home owners proudly perched on their porches smiling and waving to the eager public parading through their yards and streets. I mean talk about a garden party!"

"My weekend of touring gardens and talking to like minded garden geeks about their cares, concerns, and questions was quite an education."

Visit her post to see pictures. One shot is of my wind-whacked, rain-beaten backyard as the tornadoes were touching down outside of the city.

Not bad right? But was it better than me droning on about the Walk?

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's over. Let Garden Walk Buffalo 2010 begin!

I share here only gardens from my street. This is 72 Lancaster.

It was an awesome weekend, despite the tornadoes.
Garden Walk 2009 is over and it was a great weekend. Weather held out for the most part. There were intermittent quick light showers and one huge storm, with 65 mph gusts, torrential rain, and tornadoes spotted outside the city just as the Walk was wrapping up on Saturday, around 4 p.m. As we moved into the house as the furniture was blowing around the back yard and plants in pots were being tipped over, my wife, looking out the window said, "THERE'S PEOPLE STILL LOOKING AT THE GARDEN!" Gardeners. Relentless.

75 Lancaster–only some of the pots. Anabelle won't tell Jim how many pots they have–he'd only groan and refuse to carry them all in for the winter.

Fine Gardening
, Martha Stewart Living and a freelance travel writer for mags like Travel & Leisure.

All were in town to experience the Walk this weekend. Ed Healy of the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitor's Bureau (CVB), Elizabeth of Garden Rant/Gardening While Intoxicated and I took turns hosting them all and making sure they were able to visit gardens we think were of interest and gardens that fit what they were interested in.

Stacey doing an interview with Channel 2, WGRZ in the Erie Basin Marina University Test Gardens.

Saturday with Martha Stewart Living

Stacey Hirvella, Senior Associate Garden Editor for Martha Stewart Living, and her husband, Adam, were invited to Buffalo by the CVB to experience Garden Walk (Adam's only mission was to have chicken wings once each day). No editorial promises, no promise of scouting for gardens to shoot. Just to see how big this event has gotten, and to experience a garden tour that's become more than just a garden tour–it's also a PR tour-de-force for Buffalo and a tool for rejuvenating neighborhood pride, improving properties and increasing home values.

181 Lancaster. Great looking year 'round.

Stacey and Adam started here at my house and we walked up my street to visit the other seven gardens on the tour on my street. By the time we'd gotten through the last one and hopped in the car to take on another garden she told me already, with just the eight Lancaster Avenue gardens, it was, "...already the best garden tour I've ever been on." And we had 333 more gardens to see!

My Garden Walk project, the counter tops around the grill. I went with mandevilla this year to climb the grate. The pot of ornamental peppers & purple basil pops out and another empty pot goes in to create an ice bucket for cold beverages.

Stacey attend the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. After working as a rooftop gardener in Manhattan, she served as the horticulturist at Tavern on the Green restaurant for three years. She joined Martha Stewart Living in 2005 and works with Andrew Beckman and Tony Bielaczyc planning the garden content for the magazine. She's got great garden cred. When she says that my street has great gardens, well, I for one believe her!

We were able to take in other gardens–an over-the-top Victorian, a quiet Asian-inspired oasis, a test garden for seed companies from around the world, the only cooperatively-owned garden center in the country, a funky Vietnamese garden that has to be seen to be believed, a sophisticated jewel of a city garden, and many more. I sent them off to get lunch (and most likely wings for Adam), and on their own to discover gardens by themselves–without my commentary. I think discovering some of the jaw-dropping gardens on your own is an aspect of the Walk I take for granted, and I wanted them to experience that.

The park-like serenity of the garden at 154 Lancaster.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in my own garden answering the same questions over and over again–but none-the-less thrilled to receive compliments on my garden and the Walk in general. Dozens of friends & neighbors showed up to say hi.

Sunday–A fine day with Fine Gardening.
Steve Aitken, Editor-in-Chief, and newest FG contributor, Kerry Ann Moore, were great fun to pal around with, just like an unrepentant terrorist would be. Mr. Aitken has a dry sense of humor, and Carrie, well, she was obliged to laugh at his jokes 'cause he's the boss. Fine Gardening is very focused on their editorial coverage–every feature & photo starts with, "How can we make the reader a better gardener?" And ends with, "Have we made the reader a better gardener?" A garden tour doesn't necessarily fit that criteria easily, but Steve had heard of Garden Walk Buffalo and wanted to experience it himself. The previous day, Elizabeth had taken them to a few gardens and they had the afternoon to wander on their own.

72 Lancaster again, same garden as the very top photo. This bed is timed to be at peak 12:35 p.m. on the Saturday of Garden Walk each year.

We started off at my house briefly at the end of Saturday, meeting and getting out of the 65 mph sideways rain. Sunday morning I pick them up and we went straight to the Erie Basin Marina University Test Gardens. Then, off to the Rabin Terrace gardens, an inner city community garden (with an orchard), and off to the garden center co-op. We went on to a Victorian garden and then onto my street for a quick visit to two gardens. They had a flight to catch so the next stop was their hotel.

The great fountain in the garden at 193 Lancaster. This garden, mostly through foliage, is EXTREMELY colorful.

They asked lots of questions to the gardeners we had time to talk to and Kerry took a good number of photos for reference. Even when Steve was quiet I could see him asking himself, "How would this make a story or photo that would make someone a better gardener?" Again, no promises of any type of coverage, but I believe they were duly impressed and would have liked to have seen even more gardens.

Steve even got a decent-sized piece of a "turtle rock" from the master gardener at the test gardens to take home to his own rock garden. I think he was going to make Kerry carry it back to Connecticut.

191 Lancaster. Gorgeous shade garden colorful and well-edited (unlike my garden). And he gets to hear the bubbling of the fountain in the photo above of his neighbor without the expense or hassles of having his own water feature!

I'll report other stuff from over the weekend–the crowds, the full shuttle buses, the quotes, the far-off distances people traveled to get here, and yes, the parties. Oh, and some gardens!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ready for the largest garden tour in the country...

Expecting about 45,000 to come this weekend to visit the 340 gardens of Garden Walk Buffalo. If you're not doing anything, please stop by. Had about 2,000 people visit just my garden last year. This year, because a TV station did a live remote this past Sunday, I was cleaned up early and am ready to show. The earliest ever. Usually, I'm out deadheading, staking and cleaning up right up until 10:00 a.m., when the gardeners start coming.

This year I won't be spending as much time in my own garden, I'll be hosting a Senior Associate Garden Editor from Martha Stewart Living, and her husband, and getting them started on seeing some key gardens. There are some that are sort of out-of-the-way (not that within three square miles any are far away!). They're just not surrounded by dozens of other gardens. I also have a handful of gardens that are not on the Walk I have permission to take them to. The Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) invited her to experience & enjoy the Walk. I'm looking forward to getting out and seeing some gardens.

The CVB will be busy taking around a freelance travel writer, that writes for magazines such as Travel & Leisure. Also, a representative of Fine Gardening will be here. And rumor has it that Allan Armitage will be wandering around. Elizabeth of Garden Rant/Gardening While Intoxicated will be hosting a small gathering for them and other area garden media professionals.

But back to me, I'm ready. It's just got to stop raining. Here's where things stand this year:

The front yard is full...

The lavender is lovely...

The paths are perfect...

The bricks will never be weeded enough though...

The plastic grocery bag finally blew off the lightning rod.

The deck is darling. The tile counter in the new outdoor kitchen (seen in background, right) will most likely get grouted Saturday morning!

Even the potting bench is cleaned up...

The potager is perfect. Except that Garden Walk Buffalo also coincides with Japanese beetle week. That rose standard in the middle is like some fast food/den of iniquity for them.

The checkerboard is, well, it is what it is. Each of the different grasses is fighting for dominance, where they're growing.

The Harry Potter Garden is ready for its big release...

Even some of the nonfiction plants are labeled.

New climbers are climbing (wisteria)...

(porcelain vine)


The patio is perfect...

The pear tree espalier has seen better days, and will in the future...

The baskets of million bells look like a million bucks...

The grasses are groovy. I find if I put the bench here for people to rest, they can't get so close to see that I never cleaned out this grass bed fully this spring. The black cane bamboo keeps people looking up anyway.

Even the boring corner is looking okay. The grass looks like it could use a good combing though. The blackberry vines on the left may need some propping up.

I guess there's still a bit to do. But I figure if it doesn't get done, there's so much going on in this tiny backyard that no one will notice what I don't get to.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This year's Garden Walk Project

Each year I take on a project I have had in my head–with a deadline of getting it done by Garden Walk (THIS WEEKEND!!!). This year's project was my "Outdoor Kitchen." It's in quotes because it's not what you might think of an outdoor kitchen. There is not, nor will ever be an outdoor refrigerator, sink, garbage compactor or outdoor dishwasher. It's basically counter space around the grill, with a couple nice features. It's tiled with slate, in a diagonal pattern. The only thing left to do is to add grout, which I may get to tomorrow or Thursday. As long as it's dry by Saturday at 10 a.m., I figure I met my deadline.

Seen above is the counter along the house wall, with the grate I attached to the house from a few posts back. I built into the counter a planter to grow some climbing vines and herbs. It's attached to the wall with a 2x4 cleat, so it's solid. You can dance on that thing.

Here it is in progress.

The hole cut out for the planter.

The area in question–those wimpy wing shelves that come on grills are so inadaquate!

Cleat secured to wall.

Base up with temporary legs. It's even level!

Second counter top built, installed & stained.

Installed but not yet tiled.

Idea was to have the counters wrap around the grill.

Believe it or not, the stain colors are the same–just six years apart.

The inset planter on the left is intended to act as an ice bucket for drinks. I may get another one and fill it with herbs and just switch them out when there's a party going on. Be wary of slate tiles, they of different thicknesses.

Can't wait to fill this with mandevilla, or sweet peas, or chartreuse flowered Nicotiana 'Limelight' or clematis, or phormium pink stripe. I'll probably try something different each year. Unfortunately, they won't be in for Garden Walk.

And now, finally, I have a great spot to rest my gin & tonic while barbecuing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Garden Walk Buffalo better than the Philly flower show?


Terry Ettinger (arborist, nursery professional, horticulturist, garden column writer, host of a garden radio show and YNN's garden guy AND greenhouse manager of SU's Department of Environmental and Forest Biology) seems to think so. After a radio interview with me a few weeks back, a listener writes in to Terry's column, in Central New York's Eagle community papers, asking if Garden Walk Buffalo is worth a visit. Terry states, "Worth it? Without hesitation, Garden Walk Buffalo is the best horticulture-related event I've ever attended-including the Philly Flower Show!" High praise from a guy with some serious garden credentials.

Terry and camera man Chris set up in the very small garden and water feature at 533 Auburn Avenue.

Terry was recently in Buffalo to record his Garden Journeys TV spots (Sunday & Wednesday 1:30-2:00 minute bits). They run on YNN Channel 14 in Buffalo, and on all other Time Warner stations thoughout New York State. Here are links to the first three, of four, that will run before Garden Walk.
  • Community Gardens (Serenity Garden & Fargo Estate Neighborhood Garden)
  • Divided Street Gardens (Dorchester Avenue median)
  • Water Features (the Garden Walk garden at 533 Auburn Avenue)
  • Garden Structures will air this Wednesday (the Garden Walk garden at 39 Granger Place).
They air every hour throughout the day on all the Time Warner news outlets across New York (everywhere except Westchester County, New York City, and Long Island) on July 12, 15, 19, and 22.

Setting up the shot around the Dorchester Street median.

He also recorded two others–another at 39 Granger Place on the owner's home-made rainwater reclamation system; and another interviewing the gardener at the Erie Basin Marina University Test Gardens, where plants are tested for seed companies from around the world. Plants found here will not be seen on the market for one-two years, if at all.

But better than the Philly Flower Show? Easy for me to say yes. I've never been to the Philly Flower Show.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A good place to put your pot

I've been in this garden plenty of times. It's a Garden Walk garden by Carol & Tom. I always look at this simple pot holder along their fence and keep saying to myself that I have to do that on one of my fences. In the tight urban settings in which we garden, it's often all about the fences–hanging pots on them; training things to crawl up them; hanging art, lights, birdhouses & mirrors; and figuring ways to add height to them for more privacy.

It's a 2x6 with holes cut in them. Even I can do that. May even have time to do it this week before Garden Walk. I know exactly where I'd put it. Our local garden (TV/radio/print) guru was just here filming a segment to promote Garden Walk Buffalo and commented that I seem to take things to the "next step" after seeing the espaliers, potager garden, outdoor rooms, kitchen area, grasslands, Harry Potter Garden, potting bench and checkerboard steppable grasses under the playset. I think I'm attracted to these sorts of projects because it's all about the idea and not as much the plants. My problem is I have the ideas (or steal them) but not the time or money to make them all happen. All in good time I suppose.

I finally took a photo of this so I would remember to make it happen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My grate find

A friend called me up and said her neighbor had a great big old rusty grate out by the curb for heavy trash pickup. She couldn't use it and wanted to know if I could. I think I was there before she hung up the phone.

The grate has a sort of Turkish-inspired design to it, along with a patina of age (by which I mean it's got some rust and pieces missing).

I took the grate, not 100% sure what I'd do with it, only knowing that I'd use it somewhere. I also think that since the outside of the house acts as "walls" for my outdoor space, it's prime area to treated like in interior wall–with artwork.

So I hung it on the house. I have plans to build my version of an "outdoor kitchen" here, around my grill. It's being worked on as we speak, so to speak. It's going to be less of an outdoor kitchen and more counter space around the grill, as a typical grill (and by typical grill, I mean affordable grill) lacks any adequate flat surface area. There's barely enough room for a plate, barbecue sauce, and a couple utensils. Where is one to rest their gin & tonic?

I'll put a planter beneath it and plant something (next year!). I'll plant some things I'd want near the grill (basil, rosemary, a barbecued ribs tree), but want something to crawl up the grate. Maybe morning glories? Passion Flowers? What would you suggest? It's got to be an annual (in zone 6) as the planter probably won't be deep enough to overwinter anything.


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