Buffalo Front Yard Garden Competion in Country Gardens magazine

Country Garden magazine's editor, James Baggett, visited during Garden Walk Buffalo this year and was given a tour of Garden Walk gardens and events/activities held by the National Garden Festival. he was apparently impressed enough with the Garden Festival's Front Yard Garden Competition, that he tasked our own Elizabeth Licata (Garden Rant/Gardening While Intoxicated) to cover the event for this two-page spread in the Early Spring 2011 issue, on store shelves now. The magazine has a circulation of 525,000 and the publicity value of the article, according to PRTrak, is $338,195.

Home owner Arfredah Gaines is mentioned, and quotes from Joe Han, of The English Gardener (who took on two houses and the lot between them).

I'll get back and take better photos this year,
after the plants have had time to settle in.
The competition, organized by the WNY Nursery & Landscape Professionals and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, was conceived as a way to give back to the community in a way suiting how Garden Walk gives back to the community through its Beautification Grants program. Garden Walk itself is NOT a competition, and discourages any thought of competition, but the this National Garden Festival competition is a device to encourage area landscapers to strut their stuff and provide a media angle for PR and marketing. It was originally intended to get some press for area landscapers and gussy up homes around the area of MLK, Jr. Park a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park.

Home owners & landscapers consulted on each yard design,
there's a lot of trust in having someone design a garden for you.
It turned out to be WAY more than that. A congenial competition turned out to be a neighborhood-strengthening, beautification project that increased home values, created and renewed friendships, and promoted a more walkable street alongside the historic park. Even brought visitors and tourists in to walk the street to judge gardens and cast their own votes. More than 1,000 votes were cast! Oh, and we got a verifiable $338,195 of  national press out of it (see above!).

And we're not done there. We didn't just create gardens. We're creating gardeners. Each home owner has been given individual, and group, lessons on maintaining their new plantings. That was last year during and after the competition. (My heart went pitter-patter when I drove by in the Fall and saw residents were still out there watering their gardens, months after we left.) We'll go BACK this year and more lessons will be given, questions answered, and maybe come up with a few surprises for them – last year, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy gave them all hoses for watering and Lockwood's Greenhouses provided barrel container gardens for each garden. Last years' home owners will also be invited to all our events this year as well – garden tours, author talks, bus tours, workshops and symposium.
Day one last year. the street was closed off and overtaken
by trucks, backhoes, tractors and teams of workers.

This year, the National Garden Festival is looking to do the competition in a different neighborhood in a different part of the city (stay tuned for details). We're looking at having last year's 19 garden owners come and meet and talk to this year's Front Yard Competition home owners, hopefully creating a larger camaraderie of home owners, landscapers, and organizers – and uniting neighborhoods that would not normally have that chance.

Here is a list of the landscapers that provided free design & labor, during what was probably the hottest week of the year. Hire them. They're good. And they're good people.
You can see my past posts on this event here, and here. You can see garden bloggers, from across the country, comment on the Garden Competition here:
And the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau chronicled the Competition on a blog set up just for the Competition. You can visit the National Garden Festival blog here.


  1. You all are so fantastic in Buffalo. This project has so many more ramifications than I ever imagined. Fortunately your productive imaginations have no bounds. I have to look for the magazine. Congratulations and kudos!

  2. Commonweeder,
    Thank you Pat. Were you on the bus that stopped here to see these gardens? Or were you on the lost bus that went straight to Happy Hour? I'll get updated photos of these houses this spring and summer -- the gardens need to mature a bit.


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