PHOTOS: Buffalo's Garden Walk blooms another year
Over the weekend, people wandered much of Buffalo unfolding and folding a giant map, looking for those large yellow signs saying "front yard," "side yard" and "back yard" and eventually winding up in some place offering cold liquids on what was a hot day.
In one way, this year's Garden Walk Buffalo was different from past events, adding a large swath of North Buffalo to the map. That is a section of the city with much larger yards than the Cottage District and the Lower West Side where the walk first began years ago.
Garden Walk Chair Yolanda Fields was at St. Mark's School on Woodward Avenue, answering questions and helping with those maps.
"Just here at St. Mark's, we've gotten people from out of town," Fields said. "Texas, folks came in just for this from Texas. We've gotten people from North Carolina. We've gotten people, obviously, from Canada. We have a ton of great Canadian visitors that come every year. Pennsylvania. So all across the country."
Fields said the North Buffalo lots are larger, but some of those gardeners said they have spent years and years bringing those yards to the point they want to have that yellow Garden Walk sign out front and show gardeners what they can do in their yard.
Holly Weintraub said she has had her yard on display for 15 years and this year was so different because of the endless rains earlier this year.
"One of the things that I got this year was a mullet weed, which I've never had before, and it's grown to be eight feet tall," Weintraub said. "Because of all the rain, everything, even thought it was so wet for so many weeks, when the sun did come out and it got warm, everything has grown and it has gotten so enormous."
Steve Muscarella has one of those larger lots, backing onto the railroad Belt Line and filled with flowers.
"They're a lot larger than what you see, especially Little Summer Street or the Cottage area, so on and so forth," he said. "It requires more upkeep, I would say, for the most part. And because they are larger, you're probably spending more money on materials, flowers."
Muscarella said he has spent 25 years on the yard and more hours now that he has retired, six to seven hours a day, and a lot of time this year watering the garden since summer heat finally replaced the constant rains from earlier this year.
Brian Pawlowski and family moved into an Elmwood Village home formerly owned by an artist with a small pond. On Sunday, it was a very small swimming hole filled with lots of small people from the neighborhood jumping in and out on a hot day, with Pawlowski watching from inside.
"When we moved in here, it was pretty much a frog pond and then we just turned it into a little bit of a swimming pool for the kids, the perfect size for all the neighbor kids just flopping around and enjoying a little bit of the summer heat," Pawlowski said.
There is enough room in the pool that Pawlowski said kids are learning to swim in the water.
Robert Simpson took his wife along with his young daughter in a cart just looking for suggestions for their large yard in East Amherst.
"We have, of course, a yard that is a half-an-acre big. So right now, we're just looking for ideas, anything that can really inspire us as far as what we can do with our gardens," Simpson said, "and just looking at the variety of shade gardens or whether it's full sun gardens and just getting different ideas."
Simpson said it is fascinating to see the different ways people develop similar-sized city yards.
On Allen Street, Allen Burger Venture General Manager Jack Mcauliffe said it was a good weekend.
"Yesterday, it was a little bit hotter and I think a lot of people came in for some sort of refreshment real quick and they kept going," he said. "Today's been a little bit more steady, but it's been a great weekend. It's awesome."