Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Garden Walk Buffalo weekend, exhilarating and exhausting

In four days there was...
The gin-based punch with
cucumbers, basil and limes
was great.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Bike Tour of Gardens in Parkside

Sunday I went on the last of the five GObike Buffalo tours of gardens. It was a joint project between GObike Buffalo, the area's leading bicycling advocates and the National Garden Festival. What started out as one bike tour ended up bring one a week for five weeks. Thanks go to Mitch Flynn and Cindy Kincaide for making that happen. About 50 people in total took the tours. Each week was a different set of gardens so that the tours could attract repeat customers. The rides were from 10 am to 1 pm, covered around 5-7 miles and covered 6-8 gardens on each tour. Lunch was included. The $30 cost covered the lunches, a donation to GObike Buffalo to support their efforts to make Buffalo a bike-friendly community and a little donation to the National Garden Festival to support its garden tourism efforts.

I chose to go on the Parkside tour. I've been to all of the Garden Walk Buffalo gardens they were visiting. The Parkside neighborhood in Buffalo was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted with graciously-curved streets and has great homes from modest bungalows to grand Victorians, to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Martin House Complex (partially shown above)–a series of five structures of which started construction in 1903–considered to be one of his finest examples of his Prairie style of architecture. And it was one of our stops for this garden tour by bike.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A trip to Smug Creek Garden

Had the opportunity to visit Kathy Guest and Michael Shadrack's garden, named Smug Creek Garden, last night. It was fine. Kathy's collection of daylilies are at peak. Mike's collection of hostas? And Kathy's mini hostas? Well, they look good no matter the season, no matter the weather.

Mike and Kathy are a driving force within Buffalo's gardening community–whether it be the National Garden Festival, Western New York Hosta Society, Buffalo Area Daylily Society, the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, or the Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale – the reason for my visit to their garden–it was our wrap up meeting for the event.

Mike is the co-author on three books on hostas, including The New Encyclopedia of Hostas, Timber Press Pocket Guide to Hostas, and with Kathy Guest Shadrack, The Book of Little Hostas. If you're interested in purchasing any of their books – please visit their garden to do it! Books are for sale, you'll get it signed and they'd love to show off their garden to you.

Kathy and Mike live in Hamburg/Boston Hills in a house that sits on top of a creek. Their garden is open for the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens (the idea of which was Mike's!). There's only today (Friday) and next Thursday and Friday to visit their gardens while they're open. If you're into hostas, daylilies–or gardening at all–or just wandering through a beautiful space, it is worth the trip.

I tried to take a bad photo in their garden, but I just couldn't.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Richardson Olmsted Complex grounds and restoration

On Saturday I had the chance to take a tour of the Richardson Olmsted Complex, originally the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. Or, as I knew it in college, as the cut-through and quickest way to the bars and Mighty Taco on Elmwood Avenue. It's been 33 years since I first saw the towers and wished I'd be able to get in to see the insides since then. My friend Kelly Hayes McAlonie is on the board of the Complex and arranged a private tour for her friends as a birthday gift for herself. Her birthday and we get a gift! I like that! For tour information, visit here.

The building was designed by one of America's preeminent architects of the time – and one of the greatest American architects, Henry Hobson Richardson, in collaboration with the country's most heralded landscape architect (then and now), Frederick Law Olmsted. It was started in 1870 and finished 20 years later (though technically you could say they're STILL working on it). Richardson received the commission when he was just 30 years old. By the time of the construction, Olmsted had already designed NYC's Central Park and Prospect Park–and his largest project–Buffalo's parks and parkways system.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Lord's Garden, in, I kid you not, Eden

No joke. This garden's name is "The Lord's Garden" and it is in Eden, NY. When I went to visit this garden for The National Garden Festival's Open Gardens, gardener Mary Jane was working in the garden. It is an expansive garden with great underlying structure in its defined boxwood-lined alleys and side "rooms" with themes and trails. This was not a garden with defined, mulch-laden beds of distinct ornamental plants.

What made it unique was its bending with the natural forest on the site. It wasn't so prim and proper that it felt like anything other than like being in a meadow beside a forest. There were unassuming ponds, bogs, native plants, fruiting trees, and a great collection of trees and shrubs. When you we were walking around at the outer edges of the garden, you could easily turn a corner and find yourself in the forest that surrounds the garden - it blends that easily. Dazzling color? No. Peacefully-green with the occasional pop of whatever's in bloom.

I happen to be touring at the same time as Buffalo News Garden Columnist, and WIVB Garden-guru Sally Cunningham. She had me try both black mulberry fruit and white mulberry fruit for the first time. Black is sweeter.

Of the many gardens I've visited over the years, this is on of those gardens that feels "natural" despite its formal structure. As if the birds, bats, bugs and butterflies would find it just as attractive as I did.

I think if the Lord did have a garden in Eden (NY), it would be this one.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pine Ridge Garden, a work of art

Visiting this garden is like stepping into a painting. It's too nice for words - so I'll keep those to a minimum and just show. Gardeners Gary and Kitty should be hosting painting events for artists. Their garden is so rich in texture and color it seems almost unreal. I can picture what it may have looked like when it was all grass. THIS is way more joyful!

This garden is part of the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens. You can see it on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  TO get the $8 Open Gardens Guide, visit here for retail locations. More than 80 BUffalo Niagara gardens are open for touring on Thursdays and Fridays for the six weeks of the National Garden Festival.

This garden was also photographed by Garden Gate magazine in 2011.

The unassuming grass-filled front yard is teased by a hosta-filled path to the right of the house. As you walk the winding path more and more of the garden opens up until finally you've gone around to the far back corner of the house (their porch) and look back at the scene in the photo above. Enjoy. I did.

If a picture tells 1,000 words, here's 15,000 words for you...

Friday, July 5, 2013

All dressed up and no one to show...

Yesterday, on the Fourth of July, it was the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens here in Buffalo Niagara. In the morning, I got the place all spiffed up after a half dozen days of rain. It wasn't easy. Though it was nice not to have to panic about watering for a week.

But no one showed! Or no one that I know of. I was inside for a bit, sequestered in my office. The garden was looking good -- and I enjoyed it by myself.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Garden Art Sale purchases...

Purchase one of three.
I purchased three things at the second annual National Garden Festival's Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale on this past Sunday. I've been a busy boy of late and I helped organize the sale, so I figure I could treat myself to a few garden goodies.

Above is the rough-hewn steel sculpture I bought from a sculptress from Webster, near Rochester, by the name of Kathleen Kosel. Here's her website. I intend to add a light behind it somehow, as the green glass is a cut-out to let light through. I watch a similar piece all day long that had blue glass in it, and this was left at the end of the day, so it was intended by the garden gods that it should be mine. It was just under $100. Don't tell my wife.


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