Let’s start with something as simple as a garden walk. Backyards, which normally are private spaces, are opened to strangers and friends alike. You’re invited to enjoy the scenery and take photos if you want. The gardener is willing to answer questions you might have about their garden.
Wait, did I say willing? It’s more like thrilled. They’ll tell you the name of that purple flower you have just fallen in love with, share their tips for growing bountiful tomatoes and tell you how much work you should expect if you want to put in a water feature.
If you have time, they’ll tell you how different their yard looked before the October Storm felled so many trees. They’ll show you the plant that used to grow in their grandmother’s garden. They’ll instruct you in different uses of herbs.
Some will even offer you a glass of lemonade or seeds from their favorite flower.
And what do you pay for this wonderful experience? Sometimes a small donation is requested, and more often they’re totally free.
That’s amazing to me.
Yet we take garden walks for granted here in the Buffalo area. After all, we have 17 or more, depending on how you count them. You can go on garden walks every week for a month and a half.
But did you know lots of other regions don’t have garden walks at all? If you talk to someone from out of town, you have to explain what a garden walk is because they’re not even familiar with the term.
Thousands of people participate in Western New York garden walks each year. I can’t even imagine how many hours volunteers spend planning and organizing all of the events. Then there are the gardeners who spend extra time making their gardens look presentable for company. And of course, there are the visitors, oohing and aahing their way through a weekend. That makes the organizers and gardeners feel sure that the work was worthwhile.
We should all be grateful for the vibrant gardening community we have here in Western New York. It’s really special.