A little East of Buffalo

Wow. I was not expecting this. A friend and I went to visit some of the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens on Thursday last week, in Lancaster, NY, a far-flung Buffalo suburb.

Their backyard is nice - more
typical for the house and neighborhood.
I'd visited their garden tour nine years ago (Lancaster Garden Walk, this year happening next this weekend, July 21 & 22), their first year, I think. I'd actually been in this yard then. I remember it because it was the first time I'd ever seen a passion flower vice and was transfixed by it.

Their backyard garden has not changed tremendously in the last nin years, but the secret garden, behind the garage has taken this from a nice garden to something spectacular and quite special.

The backyard is typical, nice paintings, an arbor and sitting area. Once you get to the narrow area beside the garage, there is a brightly painted red railing and zig zag of an enclosed fenced path.

The closer you get to it, you start to notice details - a shelf with Japanese porcelain and artifacts, a lantern or two, more Asian-styled plantings, and more. Then you enter the narrow space, with a Japanese print, bamboo-like narrow planters, a cut out with a Japanese bell, and then BAM! it hits you! You've just entered a hidden Japanese garden and have instantaneously left Lancaster, NY.

Two separate decks of Japanese furniture, and a wonderful wall (the property's back fence) of black lacquered display cases filled with more porcelain and artifacts, fronted by a variety of bonsai trees on pedestals, frame an oversize koi pond. As if trained, the koi will come to great you - almost seeming as they wanted to be petted! (Actually, they think you just may have their food pellets.)

First hint something's about to change.
From the back fence, looking at the pagoda sitting area, the effect is of a river going under the pagoda structure, making the are feel WAY larger than it really is. The pagoda wall of shoji screens is actually just the back wall of their garage.

The pond itself is built not only with a waterfall creating a sound blocking out all others, but it also has two "subset ponds" built into the stone walls surrounding it.

This entire are behind their garage is the best use of an awkward urban space I have ever seen. It was nearing 8:30pm when we got there (the garden was open until 9pm) so we got the added benefit of seeing it lit for nightime, only adding to it's appeal.

Run, don't walk, to see this garden. This Thursday, and next Thursday, you can see it on the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens, this weekend you can see it on the Lancaster Garden Walk.

Tell the gardener, Rich, I said, "Konnichiwa."

A fascinating plant he had, I cannot remember the Latin name he gave me, but a common name a=was "giraffe plant" because the stems are spotted like a giraffe. I cannot find out more about it online. Anyone know its Latin name?


  1. Wow! That was indeed a lovely concept. It was really beautifully done with all those sheds for tea party. I bet it is so relaxing looking at the pond while enjoying the tea. I got a lot of inspiration by your post. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  2. The "giraffe plant" is call a voodoo lily (Sauromatum_guttatum). I just saw one at the Botanical Gardens. In the shade garden.

  3. I wish I could run to this this garden~it's delightful

  4. Wow is an understatement. Love your photography and lighting. Is that the new camera?

  5. The other "voodoo plant" you saw is Amorphophallus konjac, both have the stem with that giraffe look to it. Thanks


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