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Garden Walk Weekend

photo courtesy Garden Walk Buffalo, (c) D. Zinteck, Photographics 2

All right Mr. DeMille,” or in this case garden enthusiasts, “I’m ready for my close-up.”

For many Buffalo gardeners, this classic line signals the payoff for months of back-breaking work, as hundreds even thousands of Garden Walk visitors will admire the results. With a warm and wet spring, we had a fast start out of the gate, and if you closed your eyes for one minute, the weeds, which were also enjoying the warm weather, would set down roots and make themselves at home.

Insects were also in abundance. Talk around the garden center included recipes for pest control and companion planting to discourage aphids, snails, and the unidentifiable creepy crawlies that leave gaping holes in the ligularia. Ellen Goldstein, a long-time Garden Walk participant admitted that she made nightly trips to the garden with a flashlight to dispose of snails. Another said that if you look just behind the lilies in her garden, you will see a cup of soapy water where she regularly disposes of unwanted pests.

Too much rain, too little rain, early bloom, late bloom, untimely legginess, and unexpected deaths in the garden are all to be watched for and worried about in the weeks leading up to the big event. But despite the new set of challenges each year brings, Garden Walk has grown from a block club event to the largest garden tour in the nation. When asked, Jim Charlier, organizer for the event, says that he isn’t able to narrow down the hundreds of gardens to a few must-see locations.

“Must-see gardens? That’s like asking which is my favorite child,” he said. “I tell people that it’s less of a garden tour and more like 355 separate outdoor art installations. You must see them all. But the folks with little time will want to check out neighborhoods, as opposed to gardens. The Cottage District is popular but crowded; Allentown and Kleinhans areas are worth a visit. Everyone should see the Rabine/Cary neighborhoods, and the Richmond to Linwood magazine-worthy gardens cannot be missed.

“You must see them all. It may take you a few years, but there’s something to learn in each garden. It’s as if there are 355 classrooms out there for you to explore.”

Charlier notes that rather than concentrate on the size of the event, Garden Walk Buffalo has concentrated on the gardens, and promoting Buffalo’s gardens nationwide. Even though it’s a free tour, Garden Walk Buffalo has given more than $26,000 to more than 60 block clubs and community groups for community gardens, street-side planters, hanging baskets, light pole banners, and more for more.

“Dozens of our gardens have appeared in national gardening magazines,” says Charlier. “Seventy-two garden writers and bloggers from across the United States visited Buffalo last weekend and were duly impressed with our gardens, friendliness, gardening community, Olmsted Parks, and our hospitality. Read some of their comments at Warning: there are lots of comments. And none have to do with chicken wings or snow.”

Pick up your Garden Walk Buffalo map at Urban Roots and plan your route in advance to maximize the number of garden visits. Gardens open this Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. There are three free hop-on, hop-off shuttle buses with professional tour guides from Buffalo Tours that will run continuously through the weekend. And for those gardeners that toiled away the summer to create this wonderful weekend for us, thank you all.

Urban Roots Community Garden Center Cooperative boasts more than 600 member owners and is still growing. Share your gardening thoughts, stories, and questions at

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