Fencing Garden Art

During Garden Walk Buffalo. I got out to visit just a few gardens I've never visited before. Local artist Sally Treanor had been in my garden – not once – but twice on Saturday alone for the Walk and I told her I'd try and get over to Richmond Avenue to see hers in the morning.

One thing Garden Walk Buffalo issue that has never been satisfactorily solved is the ability to have gardeners visit other gardener's gardens. During the Walk, we're all in our own gardens. Before the Walk, it's crunch time and we need the time to work on our own gardens. Following the Walk, and I'm only speaking from my own experience, I'm too tired of seeing and talking gardens that it's hard to muster the energy. 
We have tried though. We used to have either the Pre-Garden Walk Party, or the Thank You Party for the gardeners in people's back yards. That worked nicely – until the parties got too big!

Anyway - back to Sally's garden – and her garden fence. In actuality, the fence was conceived, designed, and built by her husband US Army Col. (ret.) John James Treanor, MD (Jim), who passed in January of 2013. His presence in the garden is as sturdy as this fence. And this is about the sturdiest fence I've ever experienced.

Being an engineer before he was a doctor, the fence, and a matching pergola/archway/buffet was a solution to a few problems in their garden – and appropriately over built as only an engineer could.

Some of the problems in the back garden? 
  1. Two large DOGS.
  2. Proximity to neighbors at rear of yard.
  3. Tilting utility pole with noticeable guy wire.
  4. All pavement - no grass.
  5. No place for plants.
  6. No bottle opener.
International flags represent the nationality?
heritage of family members. As with any
American family, theirs is a mixed bag!
Made of 6"x6" posts sunk in 4' of concrete, and 1"x6" deck planking, it should survive pretty much anything. I tried shaking it – and it would not budge. The pickets are hand-carved to resemble chess pieces. The post columns are Rook castles.The scalloping intervals are irregular to increase illusion of distance. Most stringers are horizontal with shelves that are 2”x12”,  accommodating large pots and statuary. And low voltage lighting units are spaced every yard under the top stringer along 60' of fence providing a wash of light on the pavement at night

And to fix that bottle opener problem (and I personally know it to be a problem if there is no beer opener in a garden) Jim and Sally built a 10' wide x13' tall arbor/pergola/archway/buffet stucture along the back of the house. Of course it matches the fence in style (and sturdiness), has shelving for plants, has lighting, and its height clears the back window of the house. And there's a bottle opener.

The overall impact visually of the back garden is not that of a fence – as impressive as the fence is. It is the tiers and layers of plants and art that make the first impression. The plants are varied and layered with the eye of a painter. That hits you first, but as you get closer you'll find rustic artworks Sally has collected over the years (sculptures, birdhouses, chimes, bird feeders, pottery, a fountain, etc.), as well as found and repurposed art (including an interesting heat-pump-looking industrial artifact fitted with a sun dial!).

Other nice features include the international flags hung around the garden. Each represents a nationality/heritage from members of the family. There was a great small bench made of stacked pavers and cinder block, The entire back yard is not a yard with grass, but concrete pavers with multiple umbrella tables and other sitting areas instead of a driveway, It looked more like a restaurant patio than a driveway. I don't think she takes reservations though.

I don't know Sally that well, and I never met Jim, but if there's a memorial to him someplace, I cant imagine it's half as impressive as this fence!
The buffet/pergola/archway will be standing long after the house does!
Oh - and she collects plants, too!

Many of the collected art take the form of creatures of some sort - birds, frogs, turtles, fish - and this nutty squirrel. Yiu know, creatures you'd find in a garden–including dragons.
Sally painted the rain barrel.
I spied a small table purchased from the Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale. I have some of this artist's pieces in my own garden. (Kathy Kosel of Rochester).
Found industrial art.
The front garden has no grass. Who wants to mow every week when there's life to be lived?
And Sally's generous and gracious manner is reflected in a bench nearby the sidewalk encouraging neighbors and strangers alike to sit, rest and take in the front garden as they would a painting.


  1. Oh, thanks for posting the photos and explanation of this sweet place! So many ideas; so much beauty in a relatively small space.....

    1. I love gardens like this. Filled with ideas, as much as plants!

  2. I love that fence (and the pergola, but especially the fence). I too have family members who are prone to over engineering their projects. Thanks for sharing your pictures of this garden.

    1. I am one that does not necessarily "overbuild." But seeing this fence - it should easily be around for the next few owners of this house - and I'm sure would be a selling feature in the future.

  3. That fence is quite lovely, but the pergola/archway thing? Flippin' amazing. I've got serious yearning for that thing, it would look awesome in my garden. Thanks for sharing, that is very cool.

  4. I too love that pergola and her sidewalk bench/planting. They have many unique and useful ideas in this garden. Sad I missed this one. Always next year I guess.

    1. Put it on your list for next year Donna. It's on Richmond, nearer the Forest Avenue end.

  5. I too visited this garden on the walk, I must say that the story behind this garden gives me a better understanding and appreciation for it. Thanks for the post.

    1. Every garden has a story, I just wish I could document all Garden Walk Buffalo gardens like this. It's hard enough just getting to each garden for a visit!

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  7. I need to find an artistic bottle opener for my deck post, even if it is not used much. Can we paint the propane tanks for our gas grilles and return them for credit and exchange I wonder?


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