National garden club convention coming to Buffalo– you can attend!

Buffalo Niagara National Garden Clubs convention 2012You don’t have to be a member of a garden club to attend the spectacular events of the 83rd national convention of the National Garden Clubs Inc., which will be held May 15 to 20 in Buffalo.

This is the first time the national convention will be held in Buffalo, said Babbidean Urban Huber, chairman of the event. Last year it was held in Washington, D.C., and next year it will be held in Seattle.

National Garden Clubs, Inc. is composed of 5,737 garden clubs and 188,031 garden club members from all 50 states.  New York State has more than 9,000 members, and Western New York has 1,300 members.

Buffalo-Niagara region offers much for gardeners

Planning for the event starts years ahead of time. It had been decided that the 2012 convention would be held in New York State, and the first step for state planners was to decide what city should host the event.

Botanical Gardens in Buffalo NY
Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens

Since the purpose of the convention is to get as many people as possible to attend, Buffalo is the ideal place. While Buffalo has hotels large enough to house the convention, prices in our area aren’t as high as they are in New York City. Most important, our area offers  an amazing wealth of attractions for garden tourists, and those resources are reflected in the convention’s name: Explore the Wonders, Buffalo/Niagara 2012.

Because of our wealth of resources, the convention will offer something that isn’t offered at all national conventions: a tri-refresher. Garden club members who have credentials in landscape design, garden study and environmental studies can refresh their credentials in all three areas in one day.

“We have venues for every one of these areas,” Huber said. “You could spend a month touring different places.”

The tri-refresher tour includes stops at the Erie Basin Marina Test Gardens, Tifft Nature Preserve, Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, the Rose Gardens and the Japanese Gardens at Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo Rain Forest exhibit, Forest Lawn Cemetery and the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House.

Forest Lawn in Buffalo NY
Forest Lawn

“People just don’t realize we have all this,” Huber said.

“We’re hoping attendees come back to Buffalo to be part of Garden Walk Buffalo or the National Garden Festival or other events that are happening in Buffalo. Maybe they’ll come back with their garden club or bring their family to see the Botanical Gardens. In a way, I’m marketing Buffalo for the future, too.”

Why you should attend Explore the Wonders, Buffalo/Niagara 2012

You don’t have to make a large time commitment. You can register to attend the entire convention, a single day, a half day or even a single tour or event.

Please note, however, that you must register ahead of time for any event you wish you to attend, including the flower show. The registration deadline is April 15. There is a financial penalty for registering after the deadline.

There will be plenty to do at Explore the Wonders. Internationally renowned speakers, seminars, tours and a flower show will all be part of the national convention.

Ricardo Costa, executive director of the premier school of design in both Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City,  will give a demonstration at the design banquet on Friday, May 18.

Ricardo Costa in Buffalo NY
Ricardo Costa, internationally renowned floral designer from Brazil.

“He’ll make eight designs right in front of us,” Huber said. “He’s very large in his thinking, very colorful.”

Another special feature of the Buffalo convention will be a flower show.

“There hasn’t been a national flower show at a convention since 2000,” Huber said. Flower shows take a lot of work and are costly, she said. This flower show is being organized by a group from the State of Ohio and will be located on the third floor of the Adam’s Mark Hotel, which is a beautiful, wide open space.

Exhibits will be entered from all 50 states as well as from South America. Garden club members will order fresh flowers from Buffalo suppliers ahead of time, and the flowers will be waiting for them at the hotel so they can create their entries here in time for the show.

Participating in the convention activities is also a great way to meet people, Huber said. For example, if you’ve always wanted to visit the local sites featured on the tours but didn’t want to go alone, sign up for the tour from the national convention and you’ll become part of the group.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site in Buffalo NY
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site

Even some local people are planning to stay at the hotel so they’ll have more time to visit, Huber noted.

Read on to see just some of the features of this large event. Details are available at the National Garden Clubs website.

Highlights of Explore the Wonders, Buffalo/Niagara 2012

Ricardo Costa, renowned international designer from Rio de Janeiro. Ricardo Costa will give a demonstration at the design banquet on May 18. He will wow the audience with his creativity. Born in a magical land called Brazil, Ricardo has a passion for floral art design. According to Ricardo’s inspiration, Rio is the land where the sky designs new days with beautiful drawings, covered by colors, like an acquarela rainbow, full of lines, forms and textures, in a “Carnavalle” of rhythms he is proud to share.

Behind-the-scenes look at Chelsea Flower Show. Our own Mike Shadrack of Hamburg has put together an all-new program, “Secrets of Chelsea,” which will give the audience a behind-the-scenes looks at the Chelsea Flower Show. He will speak at the luncheon on May 18. He is a recognized expert on hostas and has assumed leadership roles in both the American Hosta Society and the British Hosta & Hemerocallis Society. He has learned the tricks of the trade about the Chelsea Flower Show while staging exhibits on behalf of the British Hosta Society.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House in Buffalo NY
Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House

Six Seminars. Six Seminars are scheduled for May 18 and 19. They are:

  • (A) “Secrets of Extraordinary Gardens” by Sally Cunningham, executive director of the National Garden Festival and author of  Great Gardening Companions.
  • (B) “The Great Lakes – Natural Wonders” by Helen M. Domske from Cornell University.
  • (C) “Buffalo, Queen City of the Great Lakes” by C. Douglas Kohler, historian for Erie County, NY.
  • (D) “Innovative Horticulture in the Lake Erie Region” by Dr. Terry Bates, director of Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory.
  • (E) “Nature’s Contrast” by Claudette Smith, a design instructor for National Garden Clubs, on plant manipulation for creative floral designs.
  • (F) “An Update on the revised Roberts Rules” by Joan Corbisiero, a recognized authority on parliamentary procedure and Parliamentarian for National Garden Clubs and Federated Garden Clubs of New York State.

National Flower Show. A National Flower Show will open at noon Thursday, May 17. National Flower Shows are rare and infrequent, the last one being in 2000 in San Diego. There will be well over 100 design entries from across the United States and International Affiliates.

Tours. A National Garden Clubs tri-refresher is scheduled for May 20, and excellent tours will be held throughout the convention. Tours include:

  • National Historic Landmarks. Narrated bus tour that includes the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site and Forest Lawn Cemetery and Garden Mausoleums.

    Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Buffalo NY
    Our Lady of Victory Basilica.
  • Architectural Highlights. You will see examples of the Big Three architects: Louis Sullivan’s groundbreaking Guaranty Building, H.H. Richardson’s Gothic Twin Towers, and the complete tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, the Darwin Martin Home. Also included will be other homes by Wright, Daniel Burnham’s beautiful Ellicott Square Building, and Kleinhan’s Music Hall, which was designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen and is home to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • A Natural Wonder of the World. See the American side of Niagara Falls, Three Sister’s Island and Goat Island. Get up close and personal with the legendary Niagara Falls with a boat trip on the Maid of the Mist (weather permitting) and an IMAX presentation that takes you from historic to heroic in the spectacular recreation of legend and real life.
  • Art in Buffalo. The tour includes the Albright Knox Art Gallery, an outstanding center of modern and contemporary art, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, dedicated to the art and culture of Western New York.
  • Buffalo Jewels. This architectural tour includes the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Our Lady of Victory Basilica and National Shrine and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.
  • Around the Town. Includes Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum, the Naval and Military Park and the restored Erie Canal Harbor area.
  • Power and Play: Includes the Niagara Falls Power Project and Archeological Museum and the Herschell Carousel Factory and Museum.

    Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant,
    Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, part of the Niagara Power Project.
  • Explore the Wonders (Plus): Visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls with views of the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. There will be stops at Ontario’s premier Horticulture School and the Butterfly Conservatory and the tour will end with shopping in the charming town of Niagara on the Lake.

“Match the Music” design program.  “Match the Music” is a design program presented by the National Flower Arrangers on American composers. Ed Peard is the guest pianist.  It will be held at the Life Members Banquet at 7 p.m. May 17. New Life Members are introduced and recognized during this banquet. The program is open to all.

Vendors. Top-notch shopping will be available with 25 vendors from all over the United States.

For more information about the national convention, contact Babbidean Urban Huber at


All photos provided by Explore the Wonders, Buffalo/Niagara 2012.

6 Comments on “National garden club convention coming to Buffalo– you can attend!

  1. Judy,
    I’m happy to let my readers know about such a great event. Thanks for adding the address for the state garden clubs. I’m looking forward to the convention.

  2. Barb,
    I want to send out a big thank you to the many garden club members who have worked to bring this great event to Buffalo. I can’t even imagine how much time and energy has gone into such a large endeavor. I’m looking forward to it!

  3. Wonderful article and information on the National Garden clubs Buffalo Convention….As Vice- Chairman of this convention I thank you for this excellent publicity…The 2 websites to visit for additional information and registration information are…National Garden Clubs,Inc.
    Federated Garden Clubs of NYS

  4. So proud to be a garden club member and be able to attend this show. A lot of effort is being put forth to make it a great success for our community and all who attend. See you there.

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