Eastside Garden Competition, the changing of a neighborhood, starts tomorrow

I started a garden blog so that I could promote Garden Walk Buffalo and Buffalo's gardens. You know, take a nail out of Buffalo's coffin by letting the rest of the world know that rustbelt/snowbelt isn't all we have going on here (actually that rustbelt/snowbelt thing is all in the minds of people that DON'T live here). I could not be happier that we're getting there, and this week could be a turning point.

This week, it seems, is the culmination of all the efforts of the National Buffalo Garden Festival. It's the busiest garden week in Buffalo! 50,000 visitors for Garden Walk Buffalo in two weeks will be a walk in the park compared to this week.

A before photo of one of the houses to get a "make-over." You'll be sure I'll have "after" photos to post.

First up, the Front Yard Garden Contest on the city's Eastside. Garden Walk Buffalo is not into the juried/contest thing, but the National Garden Festival has no qualms setting up a friendly rivalry among landscape designers as they renovate 19 front yard gardens along North Parade, a street facing Frederick Law Olmsted's Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and the old (and soon to be new again) front of the Buffalo Museum of Science.

Things get underway tomorrow with a press conference at 10:00 a.m. Then work begins. By this Friday, 16 members of the Western New York State Nursery & Landscape Association will have completely and dramatically changed an entire block of mid- to late-1800s homes on Buffalo's Eastside.

Of all the events and activities surround Garden Walk Buffalo and the National Garden Festival, I think I am most proud the group (spearheaded by the Nursery & Landscape Association and the Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy), committed to, and found the willing participants, to beautify a neighborhood with historic homes (a past Buffalo mayor lived in one of these homes) -- increasing its walkability, homeowner's pride and home values. This is a permanent legacy of all out efforts. Garden Walk isn't into contests, but this exemplifies the best of Garden Walk Buffalo -- improving neighborhoods and uplifting community pride

Photo of another house on North Parade - a bank canvas just waiting for the touch of a landscape artist.

 And the homeowners are VERY excited.

I talked to one person getting a "makeover" and she was just bubbling. She's a retired widow and doesn't have the money (or wherewithal) to do a wholesale make over of her garden like she imagined in her head. The changes she was considering were modest and planned to do over the course of many years (which she tells me was daunting in and of itself). Now she's working with a landscaper to do a garden appropriate for the scale of her house and the amount of work she's able to put towards it.

Each homeowner has been invited to attend all National Garden Festival events for free or at a discount. The Olmsted Parks Conservancy even arrange for a bus to get the neighbors to the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens for our kickoff party to ensure they are involved and known to be an integral part of the Garden Festival effort. They'll even get individual, and group, garden "tutorials" to make sure the gardens are maintained into the future. And for the seniors involved, I have a feeling the other neighbors will be there to offer help. Next year, this street will be a major stop for "Open Gardens" during the National Garden Festival.

Another blank canvas. Most homes on North Parade were built in the late 1800s.

After the press conference, you can visit the Garden Competition blog (it'll start to get busy tomorrow).

After Friday, YOU can get involved and vote on your favorite makeover(s) either onsite or online.

In addition to voting for your favorite, garden professionals will be asked to award special honors (and a few prizes) such as the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for Design Excellence, and awards from The Green Fund, Buffalo in Bloom, Buffalo Museum of Science, Certified Nursery & Landscape Professionals, the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, 8th District Federated Garden Clubs, and Buffalo Spree.

There will be significant local media coverage. A film crew will be documenting the progress to be part of a video to promote Buffalo as a gardening destination (rented a scissor-lift and everything!). You can find out more about the event here.

And this is only Monday. We also have this week:
And then there's this little thing of showing off our gardens and entertaining to 70 garden writers & bloggers from 22 different states and Canada, from Thursday to Sunday. More on this tomorrow. I have to get out and weed. When you're expecting 70 garden writers in your garden with cameras in less than a week, even this crazy week, it had better look good.


  1. Very nice post on all the hard work going into this worthwhile event. As a designer, I am very interested to see what is created on North Parade. The landscapers are sure to make a lovely visual and physical impact in this neighborhood, but more than that, they are going to help much of which is intangible - the creation of a sense of place, neighbor helping neighbor, people getting to know one another, and a sense of perceived safety and upkeep. Good job all.

  2. Looking forward to seeing your garden, Jim. Weeds or not, it's going to be great.

  3. It's all very exciting! I can't wait to see Buffalo and all the gardens and meet up with all the other garden bloggers and writers.


  4. Is Buffalo too cool, or what? I can't wait to finally see it in person with my fellow bloggers.

  5. We'll soon be on our way to devour with our own eyes.

  6. When I see weeds in a garden, I feel a kinship with the gardener. Don't worry about them too much! Looking forward to meeting you and all the other garden bloggers involved in Buffa10.

  7. Jim, I'm getting seriously excited about my visit ... the level's ratcheting up by the minute! Thanks for all the effort you and Elizabeth have put into making Buffa10 memorable!

  8. What a difference good design and beautiful plants make! Jim, can't wait to see you and Eliz again along with all the gardens. Thanks so much for you've done for Buffa10 and Garden Walk.~~Dee

  9. Jim - My suitcase is half packed. I can't wait to see some of Buffalo's gardens - and feel all that community spirit.

  10. I'm blown away by all of your projects. So inspiring -- looking forward to visiting later this week.

  11. The Before and after pictures really tell a tale! Like magic or the photoshop of an enhanced reality --- Look forward to seeing more!

  12. Jim,
    We'll be looking at your garden with appreciative eyes (and realistic ones) -- I'm quite sure there won't be a unforgiving one among us!

    I'm looking forward to it!

  13. What a makeover! Fantastic garden layout!


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