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Go to a Garden Party

Go to a Garden Party
This is the weekend to explore Buffalo's beautiful backyard oases

With the harsh winters in western New York, homeowners find any and every way to get outside during the warmer months. With the rise in temperatures, the perception turns from snow to heavy rain, creating a humid climate for plants and flowers to flourish. Combine the climate with our need for green and it starts to make sense why Buffalo is home to perhaps the largest free garden walk in the country.

Now in its twentieth year, Garden Walk Buffalo opens up 416 Buffalo gardens to the public, free of charge. This year’s walk takes place on Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26 from 10am to 7pm. In 2011, it was estimated that over 60,000 people attended the event throughout the weekend, and it is believed that number continues to grow every year since.

“We think it’s the largest free garden walk. There are a lot of garden tours that have been around for a long time, however most of them charge money, and they’re limited, they’re curated, you have to be picked to be a part of it,” said Buffalo Spree Editor-in-chief Elizabeth Licata, a former organizing committee member, and a participating gardener in this year’s garden walk. “Garden Walk Buffalo is not like that. Anyone who lives in the area and says they have a garden can be on it. It’s very open, and there’s no critical aspect.”

With no awards or prizes for the gardens, the event becomes more enjoyable for both the gardeners and visitors. “People can walk around to different gardens and think ‘Oh, I could do this in my garden,’ and the gardeners who are participating receive that positive feedback for what they’ve been working, so it encourages them and it also encourages general neighborhood beautification. Someone sees a neighbor’s front garden prepared for garden walk, and it makes them want to do more with their garden and basically the whole block starts looking better,” said Licata, who has been working hard on her own gardens at her home on North Pearl Street. With houses being close together, Licata has made the most of her green space by placing gardens in front, back, and along the side of her home.

“I have a big patio garden with a flagstone path that leads throughout the entire garden from the front, around the side of the house, and into the back. Behind the house I have a pond with fish and waterfall that I really like, a mural, and sculpture. For plants I have a lot of perennials, bulbs, and lilies. I also have a lot of tall plants as well to go with the narrow space of the yard, having climbing plants with vines really works well,” said Licata.

Though garden walk visitors come to look at the beauty of the gardens much like they would for paintings at an art gallery, Licata feels that creating a beautiful garden is more a science than an art form.

“Their are certainly garden designers for whom garden design is an art form, but the art of growing things and to grow things successfully is more of science than an art,” said Licata. “You have to know things like what kind of soil you have, what kind of light exposure you have, and what’s going to work for you. I don’t know if I would call that an art, but I do believe designing a beautiful garden so that it has a good balance of textures and height, that could be an art form.”

Visitors of the 2015 Garden Walk Buffalo can find maps of open gardens at the three garden walk headquarters located at Richmond-Summer Senior Center on the corner of Richmond Avenue and Summer Street, Buffalo Seminary School on Bidwell Parkway, and Evergreen Health Service on South Elmwood Avenue. For more information visit

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