Common ground

Bird St garden partyNo matter where a group of gardeners may convene, we will always find common ground and inspiration. This past weekend about 70 of us from all over North America got together in Buffalo, NY for the 3rd annual garden bloggers meet-up. If you’re only vaguely familiar with Buffalo’s riches to rags industrial history, or like me, have passed through without stopping, it might seem like an unlikely city for a garden tour. But, believe it or not, Buffalo is definitely on the map as a rich horticultural destination.

Thanks to our hosts Elizabeth Licata and Jim Charlier (and a gajillion sponsors), we were treated to a sneak peek into a few gardens on the Buffalo Garden Walk – over 350 gardens all over the city will be open to the public (free and self-guided) the weekend of July 24-25. Since 1995, this (non-competitive) tour has grown block by block and become a floriferous symbol of urban renewal and civic pride. In every neighborhood that we went to, there was visible proof of gardeners inspiring neighbors to be adventurous gardeners. I’ve never seen such a concentration of densely and diversely planted postage-stamp sized gardens and am left to wonder if there’s a way to achieve the same feeling of intimacy on a slightly larger piece of property like my garden or even within Blithewold…

an illusion of space in an Allentown gardenLittle Summer St. garden with a factory relic backdropCottage district garden in the rain (beehives on the garage roof!)

We also took in Erie Basin Marina University Test Gardens, Buffalo Japanese Garden, Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Lockwoods Greenhouses, and Mike and Kathy Shadrack’s (they literally wrote the books on hostas) amazing hosta/hemerocallis garden deep in the woods of North Boston, NY (all pictured below). I feel like I still have a lot to process and learn from seeing these places and hope to revisit them in future posts.

Erie Basin Marina University Test Garden flagged with favoritesBuffalo Japanese GardenHarry Lockwood of Lockwood's Greenhouses pointing out their  succession planting of corn and mums.Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garden Shadrack terrace garden strolling the Shadrack terrace garden

group shotSince there are easily as many reasons to garden – and blog – as there are those of us who do it, the inspiration we can glean from each other – not to mention our surroundings – is infinite. I’m so glad to have had a chance to meet so many compatriots all at once and I’m eager now to see more photos from the weekend and read everyone’s thoughts about Buffa10. For a list of links to posts already written about the event, click here.

Have you found common ground on unfamiliar turf (in Buffalo or anywhere else) and come home inspired?

11 thoughts on “Common ground

  1. Oooh… so jealous! :) Funny that you talk about the differing inspirations, etc. I’m loving the fact that I’m seeing so many different pictures on all of the bloggers’ review posts–I hadn’t seen that huge ‘Sum & Substance’ before, for example! Glad that you all had a great trip… :)

    Kim, You were missed! I’m glad you are enjoying Buffalo vicariously but next time I hope to meet you (and I’m not the only one – I kept hearing, “where’s Kim? Why isn’t she here?”) -kris

  2. It was great fun, wasn’t it? I enjoyed meeting you in person after reading your blog for years. One day I hope to visit Blithewold, as I know it would be inspiring, too!

    Carol, Buffalo exceeded all expectations. I’m so glad we finally met and I’ll look forward to seeing you here someday soon – maybe you can ride out with Barbara! -kris

  3. I’m feeling like I’m wasting a lot of space on my property, after seeing the efficient use of space in the urban gardens of Buffalo. Such inspiration will be interpreted differently by each of us according to our needs and interests. I hope to someday see how you interpret them at Blithewold. It was wonderful to meet you finally.

    Barbara, It was so great to meet you too. I’m looking forward to watching how your garden changes and will keep my fingers crossed that you do make the trip here someday soon! -kris

  4. Kris, it was truly a treat to spend time with you again! The gardens were so delightful and I am just now really digesting all we saw and experienced!I wonder, too, how to get that intimate effect in an acre garden and if one has to create rooms with some kind of shrub boundaries….I have already imagined how I can move plants around~It shall be a busy fall! I do hope to be in Providence sometime before Seattle Fling and you and Blithewold are on my list! gail

    Gail, “digesting” is a good word for it in more ways than one… At home I’ve been struggling with deciding between garden rooms and an open floor plan. Rooms do have a certain appeal! Hope to see you again very soon. -kris

  5. Believe it or not, much of what we saw was new to me. I must stay in my own garden during the walk and even the ones I had seen years ago are much changed, as you can imagine.

    Elizabeth, It’s probably not often that the tour-guide gets to really enjoy the tour too. Thank you again! -kris

  6. It was so great to meet you, Kris, after years of reading your blogs. Like MMD said above, I feel like I’m wasting space in my much larger garden after seeing those tiny Buffalo garden jam-packed with luscious plants. Must fix that!

    Pam, I think it will be interesting to see how many of our gardens go through a certain kind of transformation now… I heard so many people say they needed more plants after seeing those gardens. I’m so glad to have met you too finally! -kris

  7. It was so nice to finally meet you. Now I just have to make that arduous 114 mile drive to Blithewold to finally see your gardens! Plus we hardly had any time to visit with all the touring and dining.

    Heather, After driving all the way to Buffalo and back, this will feel like a drive around the corner. I’ll be looking forward to your visit! -kris

  8. The garden with the factory relic backdrop is the shiz.

    Ahh, lots of beautiful bounteous plants that grow oh so well in moist soils. Need not apply. I’ll have to defer to design here. Lots of colorful paint jobs; very garden vogue right now.

    I am jealous in my garden bubble, I admit.

    Me too, Susan. Plus you should have been there to see that the factory relic garden also had every creed of garden ornament possible from gnomes to David to Japanese lanterns to the BVM. He had it all and a rainy day to boot. (sigh) -kris

  9. Kris, finally, we meet! And what a pleasure it was. I didn’t get to chat with you much, but that just means we’ll have to make a point of it the next time, and there WILL be a next time! Thank you for your invitation to visit Blithewold. I’ve longed to see it for some time now and with Layanee also inviting us to come there, well, we’re just going to have to do that! I don’t think we can manage it yet this year, but we’ll try for next year!

    I’ve got plenty of plants in my garden, but since I’m not the best designer, I now see where I can make plenty of changes in how I use them. It will actually be kind of fun – sort of like rearranging the furniture for a new look! LOL

    I want you to know that you’re always welcome here at Our Little Acre, even if it’s just a stopover when you need a place to stay when on the way to somewhere else.

    Kylee, I hope that when you make it out here, your Mom comes with you! I loved seeing how the two of you (mostly your Mom, I think) filled the hotel elevator with plants. I can’t wait to see how the furniture rearranging goes! – I’m always doing that at home, inside and out. -kris

  10. Kris,
    I found the small pocket gardens in Buffalo inspirational — we have SO much space in southern suburban gardens, maybe it’s time we create those gardens, too. I was in awe at what folks can do with much smaller spaces in Buffalo.

    Me too! Before seeing those Buffalo gardens, I classified my own as small. And now I’m weirdly envious of their tight spaces. (It’s a little perverse.) -kris

  11. My wife and I loved this show. And we recognize many of the scenes you’ve published. (and wrote a post about it) Completely changed our image of Buffalo. Here we are in Rochester, only an hour away, and we knew nothing of Buffalo gardens.

    Tom, In a way it’s reassuring that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know about the awesomeness of Buffalo (but then I also didn’t know it was ever referred to as an “armpit”.) But what an inspiration it is! I’m glad you took it in – I’d love to go back for the full garden walk experience some summer… -kris

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