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GardenWalk blooms across Buffalo

Mike Desmond

Hydrangeas and zinnias and nasturtiums, oh my! Area gardeners had a chance to show off this weekend, with the annual GardenWalk Buffalo.

What began as a chance to show off gardens in one section of Buffalo has turned into a series of different garden tours, like last week's green show on the city's East Side. But Saturday and Sunday were the biggest deal, sprawled across the city.

Event Chair Yolanda Fields was a little worried about people from outside the area coming back for this year's walk. She turned out to have nothing to fear — because they came.

Mike Desmond

"Surprisingly. We weren't sure what to expect," Fields said. "But we've gotten people from California, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania. We've gotten folks still coming into town just for the event."

The GardenWalk has been good for the hotel business. In past years, there were fleets of charter buses coming in, carrying gardeners with maps and cameras and questions for homeowners.

Averil Werner visited from Sodus, on the other side of Rochester

"I believe everything that grows here can grow in Sodus because they're Upstate New York. So the climate is pretty much the same," Werner said. "Then we said, my garden doesn't look like this and I'm inspired to start planting something that makes my garden more interesting."

For many, that's the fun of it. They ask gardeners what that flower is or that bush and find out how to grow it, in Sodus or Hamburg.

Mike Desmond

Depew resident Felicity just moved into a new place and was at the walk Sunday looking for some suggestions on what she might do with the new place.

"I wish that I could cultivate the very fantasy type of atmosphere that she's got going on here," Felicity said of a garden on Parkside Avenue. "I mean you have dinosaurs crawling in the underbrush and we have fairies. We have all sorts of mystic creatures and she said the best height that you have to be to look through all of this is three foot tall."

Anne Brierley said she has spent decades working on her backyard and even the alleys on both sides of her garage.

"Every single space here is garden," Brierley said. "If I were younger and had money, I would garden on the roof. That's not happening. But I have used every space. This space over here now has vegetables and they are in Wegmans shopping bags, with a hole punched in the bottom of it."

Mike Desmond

Not far away on Willowlawn Street, Greg Miller was visiting with friends and explaining the backyard to walkers.

"We had a footprint here already. My wife, who is a master gardener, just decided to expand it," Miller said. "She brought in the lilies. We have quite a few lilies, both in the front and the back. We put in the grapevine about four years ago and we made raised beds over here on the side for our vegetables."

Willowlawn has one of those center islands, so carefully maintained by the residents it's also part of the GardenWalk.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.