Friday, April 23, 2021

Garden Walk Buffalo to return in-person


Kaleidoscope by Miriam Kelley
By Rhiannon Browning             

          Garden Walk Buffalo is coming out of a virtual hiatus this summer and is scheduled to be in-person on July 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

            GardenWalk Buffalo is one of multiple events hosted by Gardens Buffalo Niagara. It has been known to bring in thousands of visitors from all over the country and even Canada. The gardens for the walk are scattered all over the West Side. Maps where gardens can be located will be provided.

        The pandemic caused Garden Walk Buffalo to go virtual last year with live streaming, online tours and educational videos. Marketing director of GardensBuffalo Niagara Jim Charlier said that he and his team had to decide very early on last year whether they were going to host the event.

            “We came to the conclusion that it wasn’t possible to be in-person last year as far as the Garden Walk goes, but we still did host our annual Open Gardens,” Charlier said.

            As opposed to the Garden Walk, which is completely free of admission and anyone can submit their garden as part of the walk, Open Gardens is a ticketed event with select gardens throughout western New York.

            “Open Gardens includes Erie and Niagara Counties and features urban, suburban and rural gardens,” said gardener Dennis Martinez, who participates in both events.  “It takes place during the entire month of July on designated days and times, some afternoons and some evenings.”

            Martinez said that he noticed an increase in Open Gardens visitors last year since the Garden Walk was virtual. He said that the pandemic didn’t affect his garden and describes it as “a great place to read a book with a glass of wine, or two.”

            Gardens Buffalo Niagara hosts numerous events along with the other two. East Side Garden Walk, Urban Farm Day and an art show are a few events it plans on holding this year. Charlier said that there is talk of having a butterfly launch, but it depends on how well everything runs this summer.

            “We’ve had a lot of time to experiment with these events last year and I think if we just keep doing what we’re doing, this year should be a lot of fun,” Charlier said.

            For 27 years, Garden Walk Buffalo has provided many local gardeners with opportunities to show off their hard work. Miriam Kelley has been a participant since 2003 and said that she used the pandemic as a way to add on to her already unique garden.

            “I made a hanging succulent basket and I designed and built a Garden Kaleidoscope for the front yard that people will be able to actually use,” Kelley said. “I also acquired a small cement buffalo that will have a place of honor in my front yard.”

            Kelley said one year she and her daughter counted around 1,000 visitors in her backyard on Dorchester Road, which is also a concern for Charlier.

            “A lot of our gardens have one entrance that also acts as an exit. We just hope our gardeners feel safe enough this year to allow visitors to come through and anticipate having to control the quantity,” Charlier said.

            The Garden Walk is going to have mask and social distancing regulations this year, but Kelley and Martinez still anticipate a good outcome. Between just the two gardeners, visitors can expect a water garden in an old rusty cauldron, gnomes, Buddhas, Buddha gnomes and an oasis with ponds, fountains and green landscapes.

            Any gardener on the West Side willing to share their work has a deadline of May 15 to submit with “no site visits, no judging, no entry fees, nothin’,” according to the Gardens Buffalo Niagara website.