Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chelsea here I come!

The Japanese Moss Garden at the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show by UGArdener
My birthday was two weeks ago. My wife, seeing my ill-fitting, 1990s sport coats with just-a-bit-too-big shoulder pads bought me a new sport coat. Oh, and tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show, in London, in May. Did I marry well, or what? She's excited to go too (it's not just me!) because we went to the International Garden Festival of Chaumont sur Loire in France, in 2006, and we both enjoyed it tremendously.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My gardening Christmas list, if it's not too late

I know it's late, Christmas is only a couple days away, but I'll be accepting Christmas gifts late in to the new year. I never got anything off of last year's list, so that's all still out there for the gifting. (Above is the "Meat Seat" not in production, unfortunately.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

What is a Buffalo-style garden?

Andrew Sprung, writing for the Daily Dish on Atlantic.com, said of his visit to Garden Walk Buffalo, "There are Japanese gardens, English gardens, Russian gardens (i.e., barely controlled wildernesses) and what I would call Buffalo gardens - eclectic, funky mixes in which found objects and exotic-looking surrounding rooftops figure prominently." You can read his full article here.

That got me thinking, does Buffalo really have a style of gardening all its own? Do we not recognize it because it's what we do and don't think it unusual or different from gardens in other parts of the country?

I think there are a few factors that contribute to this difference:
  • We have a short gardening season with spectacular weather.
  • We have a population of very creative people (painters, sculptors, chefs, actors, dancers, writers, curators, designers, singers and so on). Our creative community is rather large considering the size of our city. 
  • People on Buffalo's west side do not have necessarily budgets for professional landscapers, which makes them more creative with less money. Found art and used materials fit in most budgets, giving gardens a patina of use and time.
  • We have very intimate urban yards, for the most part, forcing us to be creative in a small space.
  • We have incredible residential architecture - varied in scale, quality and style. 
  • There's are no gardening professionals on Garden Walk Buffalo.
Going forward with next year's National Buffalo Garden Festival, we're looking at giving, as input, a definition Buffalo style garden to the landscapers in the Front Yard garden competition.

Elizabeth (Garden Rant & Gardening While Intoxicated) and I came up with this statement, trying to define what makes a Buffalo garden different than gardens you might see in other parts of the country:

In Buffalo, you’ll find small urban gardens that pack a big punch — including cheerfully brash juxtapositions of colorful perennials and unique annuals, minimal or no lawns, and creative uses of found objects and architectural artifacts as sculpture. A Buffalo-style garden will have the patina of a well-used, customized space, often with complete disregard for garden design conventions. Buffalo gardeners take advantage of the sides of houses and fences by hanging artwork, sculptures, grates, mirrors, plants and more— incorporating the impressive and diverse architecture found throughout every neighborhood.

Any comments? Agree, disagree? Anything to add? What do you think makes a Buffalo-style garden? (Looking  forward to hear what some of the Garden Bloggers that visited last summer might have to say...)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Neuschwanstein Castle (no gardens to speak of)

Sorry, no garden here, really. Hard to put a garden on an alp. Neuschwanstein Castle sits on a hill in the Alps in Bavaria, along the German border with Austria. Supposedly, this is the castle on which Walt Disney based Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disney Land. It is truly impressive and looks spectacular year round. It's a 19th century building (finished in 1884, just 13 years before MY house was built), by King Ludwig on the foundations of a castle formerly on the site. This was our second trip here. We wanted to come back here and bring our daughter. Every girl should visit a real castle while they're still a kid (I'm told).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hohenschwangau Castle garden

This swan fountain represents the local identity and knighthood.
Hohenschwangau Castle is in Bavaria, Germany, in the Alps, on the southern border of Germany, near Austria. The original castle was built in the 12th century, but was destroyed over the centuries in various wars. The ruins were acquired by King Maximillain II of Bavaria and he rebuilt the castle according to the original plans. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The sun, as seen from across the street


My neighbor, Alan Friedman, across the street and about five houses down, took these photos from his back yard. Alan shot these images on October 10, 2009. The photo at top Alan titled, Not the Great Pumpkin. It looks more like something you'd find in a microscope as opposed to a telescope.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snow Day?

The 5:30 a.m. robo phone call says the Buffalo Public Schools are closed. TV says the New York State Thruway is closed in Western New York. Friends 20 minutes away claim 20 inches of snow. And here is my house, photographed this morning. When I say that the reports of Buffalo's snowstorms are greatly exaggerated, I'm not kidding. The snow that generally gets reported for Buffalo usually falls south of the city in the "snowbelt." Seriously, Syracuse and Binghamton usually get more snow than us. Even Washington D.C. had more snow than we did last year.

We do get a powerful lake-effect snow storm in the city every five to six years that can put you all to shame. When we do things here, we do them right.

I blame it all on my daughter. Last night she did the freezing pennies, sleeping with spoons under her pillow, flushed three ice cubes, wore her pajamas inside out and chanted, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" while spinning exactly three times before she went to bed. And this morning? She got a snow day AND no snow. She's a witch I tell you.

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