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!


  1. Thanks for sharing this with all of us who couldn't attend! Buffalo deserves the positive press and image!

  2. It was great to meet you finally! I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see your place... but maybe I can get a private invite? ;)

  3. The anticipation has been killing me! So glad it turned out so nicely....even with a little bit of weather.


  4. Jim,

    So glad all went so well! I'm glad the weather held off until the end. I think the Garden Walk sounds like an amazing garden-destination!


  5. Susan,
    Don't you know it! gardens schmardens, anyone can have a garden tour, but only a tour like this could happen in Buffalo–the secret is the people.

    Pleasure to meet you in person. We really didn't have a chance to exchange anything but pleasantries. You are invited to my garden anytime. Sometime in the next couple months we'd like to invite the Beams over for a drink, I'll let you know when that happens.

    I was a bit incommunicado over the weekend. It's always the busiest weekend of the year for both me and my wife. But I feel as though I'm slowly coming up from under. i also have a business to run and that's occupying much time too. Glad you've been satisfied!

    It always goes well. I'm always afraid someone will get hit by a shuttle bus, or a banner will slip, fall and maim someone, or there'll be a spree of plant thefts. There never are. I worry for nothing. Even I'm starting to realize what a great garden destination this is. Not because I have any doubts, but when others from out of town tell us, it helps see us from another perspective.

  6. Can hardly imagine living on a street with so many great gardens — though I must say my own street is getting into gardening more and more. It's a nice thing to have in common with the neighbors! Glad the weather held for you. Living in tornado country, we take those storms seriously (my brother-in-law's house was flattened a few years ago; actually his whole neighborhood destroyed).

  7. I'm with Linda - I can't imagine having that many beautiful gardens on one street, especially mine! Sounds like it was great and worth all the trouble. And sounds like the word will be getting out soon. Fantastic. Congratulations on all your (and everyone else's) hard work paying off.

  8. Ms. Wis,
    I am finding that just as plants spread, so do gardens. At least in Buffalo they have. I've got a garden Walk committee member that keeps joking that we should aim for 500 gardens, just to see the look on my face. Don't tell anyone, but I can see the day when that does happen. You should see my face as I write this.

    It is work–but it isn't trouble. It's also part of my civic duty now. I don't get involved in politics or local/social causes. This is what I do for my city. And how can gardening and encouraging gardening be that much work?

  9. this all sounds like so much fun! i wish we had a garden walk here, then maybe people would try a bit harder. how wonderful it must be to live on a street with beautiful gardens!

    isn't the weather this summer remarkable (trying not to be judgmental one way or the other...)?

  10. em,
    It's a great street. A couple that have a house on teh tour that can't get away during teh tour to see other houses stopped by for a visit to see my garden during the week. Just by walking down my street, they were able to see three other backyards just by striking up a conversation that they were on the Walk too. No where but Buffalo!

    Yes. Remarkable. Tornadoes in Buffalo, 100+ degree heat in the northwest, flooding rains & coolness throughout the east. Remarkable is a good word for it.

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