Prepare your own garden for visitors

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Whether you’ve signed up to exhibit your garden on one of the 17 garden walks that are part of the National Garden Festival in Buffalo, or whether you’re expecting company, you want it to look its best.


Sally Cunningham, project coordinator for the the National Garden Festival in Buffalo (now Gardens Buffalo Niagara), shares some tips.  She is a horticulturist, author and garden consultant. You can catch her weekly on WIVB-TV (Channel 4) on Sunday Mornings, 8 a.m. News.

“Most of the people who visit your garden won’t know a weed from a perennial,” Cunningham said, so don’t make weeding your top priority.

Instead, make sure you have neat paths and tidy edges. The edges are where a lawn, plastic edging, rock border or other area butts up against your garden. Also, rake your mulch. Making your garden look neat and tidy will make a big positive impact on the appearance of your garden.

You may love every inch of your garden because of all the time and attention you’ve given it,  but what does your garden really look like? How will others see it? To figure that out, try this trick. Face a section of your garden with your eyes closed, then open your eyes, then shut them quickly. What was your impression? This may help you see that you need more height in one area, or more color in another.

fuschia Gartenmeister

If you have bare spots, there are a couple of things you can do, Cunningham said.

First, you can fill in with potted plants.

“Don’t be afraid of a little bit of staging,” she said, noting that national magazines do it all the time for their photo shoots. Try something like a dahlia in a bright blue pot; that can add some bang to your garden.

The second thing is to fill in with annuals. Here are some of her recommendations:

Mandevilla (pictured at the top of this article): It is a constant bloomer, and you can bring it indoors in the fall and try to keep it over the winter.

Sun impatiens: Fusion is an impatiens that can take sun, and it flowers constantly.

Fuchsia: The Gartenmeister is an upright fuchsia and is very dramatic.


Scaevola : “Everybody should know about this plant,” she said. “It’s great in the ground or in a hanging basket. It’s a good performer.”

These photos were taken at Lockwood’s Greenhouses in Hamburg.

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