Hearts in the gardens

It's that time again. Garden season has started. For me at least. In actuality, it never ended. I think I did take Christmas off.

The National Garden Festival is hosting its second annual Valentine's Day fundraising party. This year's party will be held at Delaware Park's Marcy Casino on Hoyt Lake. It is held in appreciation to the area's gardeners. So if you've ever gone on a garden tour, ever participated in garden tour, love gardens, love Buffalo and want to support Buffalo's budding garden tourism industry -- YOU should be there!

Visit here to make your online reservations today.

The National Garden Festival (NGF) is going into its fourth year with a five (closer to six) week long series of events this summer, starting in late June.

There will still be the 13 garden tours throughout Erie and Niagara Counties pretty much every weekend (including Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest garden tour in the country), area garden centers will host educational events/symposiums/workshops, and there's exhibitions at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens and summer events in all the Olmsted Parks. We'll also wrap in and promote some other fun-worthy events during the five weeks - a Buffalo Philharmonic outdoor concert, Citybration, waterfront events and more. These are all just the events other groups host.

In addition, there are the events created and hosted by the NGF -- 75 Open Gardens on Thursdays and Fridays from Lewiston to Hamburg; garden-themed bus tours (operated by AAA) every Friday (last year we did tours like Buffalo’s Historic Gardens
and Architecture, Superior Gardens of Clarence & Lancaster, Southtowns Bouquet with the Shadrack Garden, Preview Tour: Best of Buffalo Gardens, Grassroots Community Gardens, Southern Tier Scenic Tour: Wine & Flowers,
and Gardens for Gardeners: Plant Lover’s Tour of Buffalo); and the Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale during the Parkside Garden Tour Sunday, June 30.

We're also giving a make-over to our Front Yard Contest. In the last three years, with the help of the Western New York State Nursery and Landscape Association (planners of the upcoming Plantasia) and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, we have helped make over the front yards of more than 50 homes along Frederic Law Olmsted-designed parks on Buffalo's East side, in South Buffalo and Riverside -- all deserving neighborhoods that have not only needed some love and care, but the ego boost of having people from around the region appreciate these beautiful neighborhoods of great people and nice homes. This year, the event will morph into a Public Space Makeover where the area landscapers will make over a public space for all to see appreciate. Details to come soon. maybe we'll announce the location at the Hearts in the Gardens party.

And if that's not enough, new events this year will include new self-guided garden tours created around themes (water features, shade gardens, etc.); we're also coming up with self-guided Bicycle Garden Tours with the help of area bicycle groups. We're also exploring opportunities to tour community and food production gardens.

So you see, even though there's been nothing to do in my own garden right now, I've been busy helping to thinking through some of these events for months now. Garden author, TV garden personality, Buffalo News columnist, Lockwood's Greenhouses plant specialist, noted garden speaker, and NGF Director Sally Cunningham, has been working tirelessly to make these events happen -- with endless requests for funding, dozens of great volunteers with the support of partners like the Botanical Gardens, Olmsted Parks, WNYS Nursery and Landscape Association, and Visit Buffalo Niagara.

While we're planning this year, we're also taking heed to suggestions made at last Fall's Community Conversation on Garden Tourism. Other ways to make the NGF sustainable (make money!) and other big plans, for next year, will slowly develop throughout this year. The seeds have already been planted. This gardening stuff never ends!


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