City comes alive with brilliant natural colors
By Nancy Cardillo
What started as an optimistic idea conceived by a local college professor and his artist wife — a weekend tour of gardens in their city of Buffalo neighborhood — has grown to become the largest private residential garden tour in the country.
While the scope of Garden Walk Buffalo has changed, its goal has remained the same: to encourage neighborhood beautification and promote community pride.
Garden Walk Buffalo took root in July 1995 when Marvin Lunenfeld and Gail McCarthy persuaded 29 of their neighbors in the Norwood Avenue/West Utica Street area to open their gardens to the public. Today, more than 400 private and public gardens are open and on view each summer as part of the garden walk, which is always held the last full weekend in July.
It has truly become one of Buffalo’s signature summer events, attracting close to 65,000 visitors each year from all over the world.
This free, self-guided tour, which this year takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 29-30, covers nearly three square miles — from the Buffalo History Museum to Canalside and from the Peace Bridge to Main Street.
It’s impossible to see every garden, even if you walk both days, so you’re better off with an organized plan to ensure you see the neighborhoods, garden features and particular flowers you are interested in.
Your best bet is to pick up a map, either through the website, www.gardenwalkbuffalo.com, or at select sponsor locations beginning in early July, or at garden walk headquarters (there are two) on garden walk weekend.
The maps list every garden on the walk, with specific location, highlights, and restrictions.
Also listed are the headquarter locations, shuttle bus routes and stops and landmarks along the way.
If you’re determined to see as many gardens as possible or if there are specific highlights you want to see, best to get the map ahead of time and plot your course.
What will you see on the Walk? Well, there are the gorgeous gardens, of course, and they feature everything from perennials, annuals, hellstrips, espaliers, trees and shrubs, but there’s also Buffalo’s historic architecture, unique city back yards (one even has a putting green), outdoor kitchens, koi ponds, and sculptures.
Plan your strategy
There’s plenty of free parking along the way, or you can choose to park the car and ride one of the five shuttle buses that operate both days of the walk, complete with an Explore Buffalo tour guide on each bus. When you need a break, visit any garden walk headquarters, where you can rest in cool comfort, use the bathrooms, get water and purchase garden walk items.
Be sure to dress for the weather, which means wearing comfortable walking shoes. You might also want to bring an umbrella, hat, sunglasses, water and sunscreen. Most gardeners welcome questions and allow photographs, so bring the camera. But it’s always polite to ask before taking pictures, particularly when you are on private property. No photography for profit is allowed anywhere on the walk.
You might also want to bring a pen and notebook, because you’re sure to see flowers you want to remember to get for your garden.
Garden Walk Buffalo really isn’t a kid-friendly event but, if you do bring the kids, be sure they are respectful of the properties and gardens, and keep a close eye on them. Leave the pets at home, though, as it can get pretty crowded in some of the back yards and even on the sidewalks.
Garden Walk Buffalo has always been organized and managed by volunteers and remains free of charge. Financial support comes primarily from donations, sales of merchandise and corporate sponsorships.
For more information about Garden Walk Buffalo, visit www.gardenwalkbuffalo.com.
Can’t make it to Garden Walk this year or want more? You’re in luck! Almost every summer weekend, there’s an organized garden walk/tour in one or more Buffalo-area neighborhoods or communities. Check the garden walk website for the list.
On Thursdays and Fridays in July, you can tour more than 70 gardens throughout Buffalo and Niagara as part of The Tours of Open Gardens. Learn more about the open gardens event at http://gardenwalkbuffalo.com/index.php/component/content/article/191-tours-of-open-gardens.
Garden Walk Buffalo
This free, self-guided event, which this year takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 29-30, covers nearly three square miles — from the Buffalo History Museum to Canalside and from the Peace Bridge to Main Street.
Leave pets and kids at home, organizers say.
For more information about Garden Walk Buffalo, visit www.gardenwalkbuffalo.com