Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's garden tour season! AAA garden tours around Buffalo (and beyond)...

Plant Collector's Tour - the Shadrack's Smug Creek Gardens for daylilies and hostas.
Sally Cunningham, a woman
out standing in her field.
The National Garden Festival has a full slate of luxury garden tours this season – starting soon! This year, they've been re-branded the Sally Cunningham Garden Discovery Tours, as Sally Cunningham, WIVB Channel 4 TV gardening personality, Buffalo News columnist, Buffalo Spree Magazine writer, book author,  garden center expert, and horticultural consultant, has been hired to organize and host these tours along with garden tours outside of the region, including the Hudson Valley and New York City (she just led a full tour to the Chelsea Flower Show in May). There will also be a Caribbean cruise!

The tours are a project of AAA and its tour division, Horizon Club Tours. The bus tours are aboard AAA's luxury motorcoach – including wi-fi, restroom and comfy seats. Each motorcoach tour includes Sally as your guide, refreshments/meals vary, and some trips include shopping opportunities. All promise to be a good time – laugh along with Sally and learn a lot too!

Touring gardens by motorcoach and a knowledgeable guide is a great way to see gardens – no crowds from the weekend garden tours; the gardeners are available to talk to an learn from; there's no time pressure of trying to get in dozens of gardens like on a weekend tour; you'll make immediate friends with dozens of fellow travelers; food, drink (and shopping) needs are met (depending upon the tour, obviously); and nothing beats a guide that knows their stuff! And a bus driver that does all the driving for you – no worries about timing, directions, parking and more.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale this weekend!

The third annual Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale is happening this weekend - Sunday, June 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Delware Park Lodge, 84 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo.

We have 39 or 40 vendors of arts and crafts related to the garden. To participate, you have to be a creator, or vendor of items inspired by the garden or nature. Most vendors are artists that create art for the garden - sculptures, furniture, obelisks, birdbaths, wind chimes, birdhouses, glass work and so on. But materials from which items are made are wood, steel, glass, stone, copper and more.

Purple Chair-ity's planter chairs.
I am one of the many organizers of the event. When I say many, there really are just six or seven of us. We have the full support of Buffalo's National Garden Festival (which really means we have the support of Visit Buffalo Niagara, our visitors bureau), as well as great planning support, and the space to use at no charge, from the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another garden art acquisition

My brother and brother-in-law own a couple apartment buildings in Binghamton, NY. In one of the garages, they found some carved wood – large pieces of carved wood – carved by a former tenant and left behind. This one is six feet tall. There were a few others that had a horizontal orientation. If they're still there for my next visit, I may be tempted to take those too.

This totem they were going to burn in the family campfire a few weeks ago. Being the scavenger that I am, I purloined it from its impending torching to do something with it in my garden. There were also dozens of carved wooden sticks, all carved in different patterns, all about two feet long. I have to figure out what to do with those as well.

Buffalo gardens are becoming more and more well known for their re-purposed and/or found art. This certainly qualifies.

I think I'll poke around the basement and see what color wood stains I have that I could stain it with. Then I'll put a protective coat of polyurethane. Then the tough part. Where to put it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The well-hung succulents

The succulent frame, my winter project is now 99% complete. I hung it on the wall of the house this week. It was too heavy – especially after the occasional heavy rains we've had in the last few weeks. My neighbor Eric tried to help, but it was obvious that it was going to take four men with sturdy backs, strong hearts, healthy knees, and strong shoulders.

All my friends are my age. I don't know any with sturdy backs, strong hearts, healthy knees, and strong shoulders. So I did it myself.

I bought some heavy-duty eyelet screws and screwed them deeply into the wall just below the window. i used the straps with buckles from my kayak ties and lashed the frame to the eye bolts. Then I inched the frame into place onto the cleat I had bolted to the wall weeks before. It was still sweat-inducing work, but I managed to do it by myself – every second expecting it to fall to the ground smashing fantastically and ruining months of work.

I looked the next morning and it was still there. No budging. I only now have to do some spot painting of the frame where there was some chipping.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The bell tolls for Fathers Day

We've been searching for the perfect bell (for years) to use with our "Ring bell, if no answer, pull weeds." mosaic plaque – hand made for us by my friend Siobhan of Siobhan's Magical Garden Transformations in Florida, formerly of Buffalo, formerly my boss.

This Father's Day was the day. My wife found it on a trip to Germany and had to carry it in her luggage for three days. I think my daughter has still yet to chip in on it. I'm staying out of that transaction.

For Garden Walk Buffalo this year, I might take the clapper out of it so more weeds get pulled.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garden media whore...

My coral bell fountain in The Buffalo News.
Last week was a huge garden media week for us here at the Charlier Gardens. It started off with a quarter-page photo of my handmade copper coral bell fountain in the bed of coral bells (heuchera) in The Buffalo News, along with a quote from me about what the "talk" will be for this year's Garden Walk - the article written by lifestyle editor and columnist Susan Martin. Spoiler alert: topic of discussion this year will be the long and harsh winter.
The online version of The Buffalo News Article
The photo and quote were also on the online version of the newspaper.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Not as hellish of a strip this year

From my office window.
Last year's project, the start of reclaiming the hellstrip (the area between sidewalk and street) has has been, so far, a success. Starting with nothing but a green slice of a mix of clover, creeping Charlie, purslane, dandelions, mushrooms, and even a smattering of grass, it was a harsh bit of real estate for grass to grow well. 

Mostly by dividing grasses and hostas from other areas of the garden, with a few purchased acquisitions, I filled in the majority of the strip.

Next up, I want to add a small area of brick, or concrete pavers where the garbage cans spend a day waiting to be picked up each week. at the end of the driveway.

I also want to line the street side with pavers as well, so people getting out of their cards don't have to step into a garden. Lastly, I want to add a row of lavendar along the sidewalk to mirror the lavender across from it on the other side of the sidewalk. Rather than buying lavender, I'm thinking about rooting my own from the plants that are there already. That way I know it'll be the same exact cultivar. There's a lot of different lavenders out there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spring garden assessments...

The springtime assessment of the gardens is late this year. Because of the harsh and long winter, I did loose a few things (helped by rabbits). Most garden beds are doing well, but not all.

Above is the front yard. The spring flowers are all purple - iris, allium, grape hyacinths. They mix well with the blues of the bachelor buttons and the forget-me-nots. And with the green house with the purple trim and flower boxes as a backdrop makes this art director very happy.


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