Parkside garden has evolved from play area to outdoor living room

view from deck of Maldovans' garden on Parkside Garden Tour in Buffaloby Connie Oswald Stofko


That’s what you need if you want a yard and gardens like those at 84 Woodward, Buffalo, the home of  Melissa and Bill Maldovan. The Maldovans’ gardens were decades in the making.shady area on Parkside Garden Tour in Buffalo NY

The couple shared their lovely landscape with visitors during the 14th annual Parkside Garden Tour on Sunday, June 26.

Both husband and wife have gardening backgrounds. Melissa has taken horticulture classes and Bill did landscaping in high school and college.

When their three children were young, the Maldovans had a backyard occupied by a swing set, tire swing, sand box and badminton games. As the children outgrew those things, the couple started adding more gardens.

Their landscape has evolved over the years. Above right you can see the maple tree that is perhaps 100 years old. It is surrounded by hostas, lamium, toad lily and ligularia. The bird bath is in an island garden that contains a weeping larch and mugo pine.

“You have to be patient,” Melissa said. “Everybody wants the whole thing done right away, but that’s not how gardening is.”view of deck from yard Parkside Garden Tour in Buffalo NY

A major feature of their yard is the grand three-tiered deck. The photo at the beginning of this story is a view into the backyard from the deck.  At left is a view from the yard. While the couple relaxes on the center tier, the top tier behind them is almost hidden by foliage. The bottom tier flows to the garage, creating a wonderful outdoor living space. When the gate (really more like a door) between the house and garage is closed, it creates a very private area, like a secret garden, Melissa said.

The outside of the garage is decorated as if it were the interior wall of a living room, which also helps to create the feeling of an outdoor room. Check it out in the photo at right.decorations on garage on Parkside Garden Tour

Melissa has a background in art, and her sense of style comes out in the quirky decorations she uses in the gardens as well. Below left, a gumball machine finds a home under the maple tree, surrounded by hostas, ornamental grass and coleus. One year she bought 36 teapots at thrift stores and used them as outdoor decorations, but discovered she had to empty all the pots every time it rained. That was the last year she decorated with teapots.

Melissa enjoys birds and butterflies and has planted flowers to attract them, including petunias, turtlehead Chelone, rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), delphinium, butterfly bush, Aquilegia (columbine), Asclepias (milkweed), Echinacea (coneflower), Gaillardia, Lobelia cardinalis and Monarda (bee balm). bubblegum machine in garden during Parkside Garden Tour

While she has to remind herself that she really doesn’t have room for any new plants, the one plant she said she still must get is a serviceberry bush, which will attract the lovely birds called cedar waxwings.

Melissa also loves photography, and her pictures have appeared in Birds & Blooms magazine.

Below right you can see a trellis that Melissa created herself using bamboo and that twist-tie material you can buy on a roll. A clematis is charging up the trellis, and if you look to the left, you can catch a glimpse of the white flower of a climbing hydrangea that is making its way up. This is the fourth, and hopefully final, spot for the climbing hydrangea.

You may choose a spot for a plant only to find that the plant doesn’t do well there, or that it does too well and quickly gets overgrown. In either case, you may have to move it, Melissa explained.bamboo trellis on Parkside Garden Tour

She had many great tips for gardeners. Here are a few:

  • Use a garden hose to lay out the shape of the garden, and then dig along the hose’s edge.
  • Make sure to amend the soil you are planning to plant in. Many people dig an area and immediately plant in the hard soil and wonder why the plants don’t do well. She adds manure, compost, and peat moss. Mix well!
  • Read the tags on plants. The tags have important information, such as the future size of the plant, the light it needs (sun, part sun, etc.) and whether the plant is invasive.
  • Don’t cram in too many plants just to make the garden look full. Plants grow wider and taller, and you may be sorry a few years down the road.
  • Place tall plants in the back, medium plants in the middle and shorter plants in front. Melissa and Bill love ornamental grass mixed in here and there because it adds some height and interest to a garden.

11 Comments on “Parkside garden has evolved from play area to outdoor living room

  1. Nice seeing your home in Buffalo and the beautiful greenery class act cant wait for you to see each of our florida homes different foliage here in paradise
    Wishing you a happy fall ill be up in 2 weeks and putting flowers on the graves

  2. Melissa and Bill – I am so impressed. Hope to get a chance to see your beautiful yard on my trip to Buffalo!

  3. Shirley,
    Thanks for commenting. I understand that bamboo can be quite invasive and take over if you don’t corral it, so you may have a lot of raw material to work with!

  4. Melissa, I think you & your hubby Bill have created a beautiful yard with so many pretty things Just wish it were possible to see it all in person! If your hubby is anything like mine; he probably won’t notice the Serviceberry bush!I love the trellis you created, Melissa.It gives me an idea; my son has bamboo growing near his house.Congrats on all your hard shows you love what you do!!!

  5. And, I gotta confess, I bought that Serviceberry bush yesterday, planted it today, but, SHhhhhhhhhhhhh don tell Bill, ok! I’m going to see how long it takes for him to find it!

  6. Annie and Phyllis,
    You are absolutely right. It’s even more beautiful when you see it in person.
    Thanks for your comments.

  7. Melissa and Bill Maldovan have created an exceptionally gorgeous landscape, AND they share it with so many each year! Real believers of maximizing their urban living space! Kudos to them for doing a sensational job…truly a labor of love!

  8. I think that the Maldovans have done an incredible job of creating not only a visually lovely oasis, but creating an entire eco system! so glad that they are recognized for an outstanding job, that has been consistently maintained for years.

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