Monday, July 19, 2010

Revitalizing Buffalo - One Neighbourhood at a Time

"Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful!' and sitting in the shade."

Rudyard Kipling
July 24 and 25 are quickly approaching as gardeners in Buffalo prepare for Garden Walk Buffalo, a great event in which gardeners share their private sanctuaries and knowledge with others of like mind (gardeners and non-gardeners alike). Recently while getting a sneak peek at some Garden Walk gardens, as we toured around Buffalo I noticed that many areas of the city were less than prosperous having lost the lustrous shine of Buffalo's heyday. But the City of Buffalo is working to turn the town around.
We were taken to a restoration project opposite an old Olmstead water feature that too will be restored. Our hosts likened it to Extreme Home Makeover - Neighbourhood Garden Edition. In this neighbourhood a group of 16 landscape design companies volunteered to do 19 front yard garden makeovers (donating time, labour and supplies) on some tarnished homes, and in consultation with the homeowners they created lovely new landscapes in just 4 days. The public is being invited to visit the neighborhood and select their favourite garden in the National Buffalo Garden Festivals Front Yard Garden Competition. And this is only the first step in the revitalization project. Next the homes will be painted (some already had started being painted). Once the water feature is restored by the Olmstead Conservancy this neighbourhood will have begun to achieve some of its former glory.
The city is hoping that this project is just the first of many, acting as a model that will be repeated over and over again throughout the city bringing Buffalo back to life. Many thanks to the garden industry for working to improve these neglected urban areas.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garden Walk Buffalo - It's Touring Time!

"Every gardener has a strange and romantic tale to tell, if you can worm it out of him - of blue flowers that came up yellow, or of a white lily that sinned in the night and greeted the dawn with crimson cheeks. In the strong heart of every gardener some wild secret stirs."

Beverley Nichols, 'Down the Garden Path'
It's the middle of summer and what better time to take a break from your own garden chores and check out the gardens of others. This past weekend my husband Peter and I joined 70 other garden bloggers in Buffalo to get a sneak peek of Garden Walk Buffalo 2010. This is an annual program where 350 homeowners throughout the Buffalo area open their private sanctuary up for other gardeners to take a peek. This year the event will be held July 24 and 25.
We had a lovely time swapping garden stories and advice, and getting a load of inspiration and ideas. Most of the gardens we had the opportunity to visit where small urban gardens and I was surprised to see the amount of plant material that can be packed into a tiny space and the ingenious ways people incorporated summer living areas into small spaces graciously adorned with plants. I certainy loved all the jewel box gardens we viewed.
My husband, the tool and project guy, got great inspiration from the many water features he saw, like the one in the photo above, if only he could find three large rocks predrilled with a hole in the centre. He was also busy checking out water features with water falls as that is his next planned project.
As the plant person of our gardening duo I was impressed with the many beautiful window boxes combining unusual plant combinations and obviously loving tended as you can see by the overflowing abundance. The tiny cottages and historic homes in all their coloured glory gave one a glimpse into Buffalo's prosperous past.
So don't get so caught up in the work of your own garden that you don't take time out to visit others. July is the month when many areas host garden tours and you don't have to go far afield. You will be surprised to find how many fabulous gardens abound in your own backyard. And the benefit is that you can make friends with local gardeners with whom you can share advice and potentially plants. Check out your local horticultural society for the date for your local garden tour.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hosta Heaven

"Brave flowers, that I could gallant it like you, And be a little vain! You come abroad, and make a harmless show, And to your beds of earth again; You are not proud; you know your birth, For your embroidered garments are from earth."

Henry King, Bishop of Chichester (1592 - 1669)

The last few days we have been experiencing the 'dog days of summer', even though July has just begun. But we should not complain just because the weather is a little like the tropics - hot, hazy, and humid, just plain steamy. But looking on the bright side, we've been able to enjoy dinner in the garden every night.

Last night sitting under the gazebo with the sun setting and the breeze wafting bringing a little relief I thought about how wonderful it is to have your own piece of heaven. The gazebo is now enclosed with the beautiful pale lavender blooms of the hosta giving a cozy, secretive atmosphere. We were entertained by the black squirrels frolicking in the honeysuckle and then playing "catch me if you can" as three squirrels chased each other along the top of the fence. Even though they dig up my bulbs in the fall, I can't be mad because they provide so much entertainment the rest of the year. They act just like little kids.

And another on another fence post, a male and female woodpecker tapped away, probably thinking they were going to enjoy a tasty meal. I haven't seen a couple in such a long time that it brought a smile to my face. I can't believe how mature the garden is already but a week of rain followed by hot weather has made it burst forth in all its glory.

With the summer heat it is so wonderful to be able to just sit, relax and enjoy the wildlife that is visiting the garden. The sound of the water fountain bubbling beside me adds yet another dimension to the garden experience and although we live in cottage country, we don't own our own cottage. But the garden provides the perfect getaway, even though the house is just steps away.

I hope you too take time to enjoy your personal sanctuary. Summer is fleeting so take time to smell the roses!