earlier this month i headed back to the cooler climes of upstate ny to, among other things, attend the yearly garden blogger’s meetup in buffalo, or buffa10 as it fondly became known that week. our fearless hosts jim charlier and elizabeth licata planned an outstanding four day garden-city tour for 70 fellow bloggers to oogle the highlights of the nation’s largest garden walk. while we didn’t get around to all 350 garden walk sites, we were fortunate to preview several residential garden districts, a private club, olmsted-designed parks including the botanical garden and conservatory, an annual trial garden on the marina, a cooperative retail nursery, a commercial retail nursery and gourmet restaurants along the way. with connections like that i felt i was amongst the the inner sanctum of the garden cartel…
having lived in upstate ny prior to moving to tx, i found myself drawn to the architectural history, diversity and color that many of the buffalo garden districts showcased:
next, we visited urban roots, a community garden center in the cooperative style. not only do they offer plants and products for sale, they reach out and embrace the community with educational events and workshops, lead beautification and urban renewal projects, and offer various employment and volunteer opportunities. five points bakery is literally next door, which helps to create an inviting gathering space for the local neighborhood. my neighborhood could sure learn a thing or two from these guys… if only we had an independent book/music store, yoga studio, fabric/yarn store, wine bar and design studio near by… but i digress.
it was raining pretty good when we were at urban roots, so i didn’t get many pictures there… our next stop was along north parade avenue, a street fronting mlk, jr. park, one of several olmsted-designed parks managed by the olmsted parks conservatory. this once preeminent street was was chosen for a front yard garden contest by the western new york state nursery, in the style of extreme house makeover, but this time the home’s landscapes received the makeover. thirteen local landscape contractors volunteered their time and materials to renovate all 19 homes along the street, in the time span of one week (during the heat-wave week, of course). the public got to vote on their favorite renovations during garden walk. see the national garden walk blog to read all about this great project that proves how gardens and landscapes can do wonderful things for a community.
while perusing my photos, i realized i didn’t take many plant photos… but here’s a few detail shots that caught my eye:
our next stop was the buffalo and erie county historical society where we were surprised with a celebration ceremony in anticipation of the re-dedication of the japanese garden at olmsted’s delaware park. even buffalo’s mayor, a ny senator(?) and sister city representatives from kanazawa, japan were there…! too bad we didn’t have time to stay for the full celebration of events. read here for more info on the garden’s history and renovation.
after all that touring the bloggers were tired and needed watering, in spite of all the rain that was falling on them… and wouldn’t you know, jim and elizabeth have connections to gardeners all over buffalo, and somehow convinced gordon ballard and brian olinski to open their overflowing garden, complete with cantina, to our ravenous bunch… you guys did not disappoint – thank you, thank you!
on saturday, our tour started at the erie basin marina university trial gardens. this display garden highlighted the latest and greatest annuals in the horticultural industry. ball, proven winners, and all-america selections were some of the growers with plots there. we were even given five flags to mark our favorite plant for each grower represented in the trial gardens. don’t you know you’re not supposed to ask a horticulturist what her favorite plant is…?!
the buffalo and erie county botanical garden and conservatory was our next stop. located in olmsted’s south park, this victorian tri-domed glass, wood and steel conservatory is a national historic site (although i couldn’t find it on the national register), was designed by lord & burnham and built in 1897-1899 for the 1901 pan-am exposition. over the years it has understandably deteriorated but has thankfully withstood many repairs and renovations to keep it available for public enjoyment and learning. read more about its history here.
after this tour we headed to lockwoods greenhouse, a well stocked retail nursery in hamburg that reminded me of the caliber of nurseries i used to have nearby… they had lunch for us and offered tours of their facilities, but i at that point i tucked my camera away to take it all in. the tour would go on to more gardens after this, but lynn and i packed up and headed back to ithaca, for i had a wedding to attend that evening on the shore of cayuga lake…!
i had a wonderful time exploring the gardens of buffalo, but more importantly, enjoyed meeting so many fellow garden enthusiasts… it was great to be able to put a face to a blog, a voice to writing style, and make a physical connection by handshake or embrace across the technical abyss of the otherwise well-connected blogging community…
a BIG THANKS to everyone involved – all the sponsors, individuals and participants – who helped made buffa10 possible! had i been there till the end i’d give you a standing ovation too! here’s looking forward to seattle in 2011!