Buffalo sculptor shares tips on cheap gardening

sculpture garden Elmwood Ave. BuffaloGardening doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.

“I didn’t spend one cent on this garden,” said Dave Derner, who created a backyard retreat at 1088 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, where he lives above Half & Half Trading Co.

He got plants that nurseries or co-ops were going to throw out. Friends gave him plants as well. Many of the plants flourished.

“I just put things in and let them grow,” Derner said. “It’s amazing how things just want to grow.”

He also makes good use of free items he finds. When workers were tearing up the street, he salvaged the bricks they dug up and used them along a pathway. A baby bird sculpture in Buffalo gardenpiece of curb is used in a table.

He also has a piece of the former Continental Night Club as well as pieces salvaged from demolitions. He has gotten leftover chunks of granite from a local company that makes granite countertops. Derner, a professional sculptor who created the statue of Saint Marguerite d’Youville for D’Youville College, uses many of his own works in his garden.  Many of his salvaged items serve as  the bases for his sculptures, including one of a series of baby birds, shown at left.crucible as planter in Buffalo garden

Another way to save money is to be creative with containers. Derner took old crucibles used for melting metal and uses them as planters, which you can see in the photo at right.

Derner’s sculptures can be seen throughout his garden. In the first photo, you can see his sunflower sculptures. Below left, you can see a sample from his  series of bronze tiles and ornaments that feature a dragonfly, sunflower and elm leaf. He used these tiles  in the elegant gate leading to the backyard, and you can see them pressed into the sidewalk at Buffalo Seminary as well. He sells his work and can be reached at davederner@gmail.com.

dragonfly tile in Buffalo gardenDerner has two elm trees in his backyard that are doing well and which he believes  must be resistant to Dutch elm disease, which in the 1960s felled the beautiful elm trees that once lined Elmwood Avenue.

In addition to an eclectic array of flowers, Derner plants many vegetables including heirloom potatoes, oregano, leeks, four kinds of mint and three kinds of garlic. He is growing four kinds of onions, including Egyptian onion (a kind of heirloom onion). He also grows  10 kinds of peppers, including bhut jolokia, which is recognized as the hottest pepper in the world. Many of these are grown on his flat roof.looking at house from garden Elmwood Ave Buffalo

When dandelions pop up in his garden, he eats them, too. While some people enjoy them just in springtime, Derner eats them throughout the year, especially with pasta.

“I can go out and pick 12 different things from my garden in one day,” he said.

His art studio in the Tri-Main Building in Buffalo has large windows that let in plenty of sunlight, allowing him to continue growing his peppers and other plants during the winter.

Derner was originally a biology major, but he took only one botany class.

“I just did this for fun,” he said, looking at the space that was once just lawn. “I guess I’ve sort of become a gardener.”

Derner’s garden was on Garden Walk Buffalo on July 24 and 25.

Other stories from Garden Walk Buffalo:

Lush gardens featured on West Ferry during Garden Walk Buffalo

July 26, 2010

front garden on West Ferry in BuffaloLynn and Alan Stout have lived at 801 West Ferry, Buffalo, for 20 years, and they have built their lavish gardens bit by bit.

They shared their work with the public during Garden Walk Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25.

About 350 gardens were displayed on Garden Walk Buffalo, making it one of the largest garden tours in the nation.

Visitors to the Stouts’ home were treated to large, full gardens in both front and back.view from West Ferry garden looking toward street

The gardens start as soon as you get to the property. The Stouts have created a border garden along the sidewalk that is both welcoming and private. The photo at right is the view from the porch looking at the street. While the tall plants, trees and shrubs lining the sidewalk block the view of the busy street, the trellis creates a doorway that invites visitors onto the brick path leading to the front steps.

A lush garden with elbow-to-elbow plants lines the long driveway leading to the backyard.

As you can see in the photos below,  gardens line the large, grassy backyard.

backyard garden on West Ferry in Buffalo“This used to be all blacktop,” Lynn said. “We put in everything but the trees, doing one area at a time. Now we have too many areas!

“My husband does all the walkways and stone work, and I do the plants.”

They get some help with the maintenence.

Garden Walk Buffalo covers about three square miles. It includes the University Trial Gardens at Erie Basinbench and paths in garden on West Ferry Buffalo Marina, where annuals from around the world are planted to see what will grow in our unpredictable climate. From there it stretches east to include City Hall and the Historic West Village, Symphony Circle and the Kleinhans Community, Allentown, the Cottage District, Columbus Park and Prospect Hill near the Peace Bridge, and Elmwood Village.

Free trolleys were available during the walk and included guides from Buffalo Tours.tourists in West Ferry garden in Buffalo

Tens of thousands of people visited the gardens, including Kelly Porter of Lyons in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, who was visiting her son, Ian Block.

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3 Comments on “Buffalo sculptor shares tips on cheap gardening

  1. Where wd we purchase one of the bronze dragonfly stones displayed in this article?

  2. Love the photos of your garden, especially the plants mixed with your sculptures. I have the studio with Linda Toomey and Rosemarie Cardoso down the hall from you at 557. Come and see my garden next year in the Capon Garden Walk. I have a pond with a large waterfall and a gazebo. Look at the photos which are at this e-mail site. Cherie

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