Gardens surround hand-built log home in Grand Island

log home in Grand Island NY

In German, “garten” means “garden.”

“It’s fate, I guess,” said Evelyn Garten. “I married a garden.”

annuals in garden at side of log home in Grand Island NY
Annuals add color to the garden at the side of the log home.

Her gardens surround a log home she and her husband built themselves, log by log, 54 years ago. She shared her gardens with the public  during the Grand Island Garden Tour on July 14.

The event benefitted the preservation of Historic Trinity Church.

first garden bed in Grand Island NY
This is the first garden bed Evelyn Garten created in her backyard after she and her husband built their log home.

She and her husband were renting a place in Buffalo 54 years ago when he was downtown and saw a small model of a log house.  They ordered the kit and waited anxiously for the materials to arrive. Evelyn was a fitter at the former AM&S’s department store, and her husband was a tool and die maker at Chevrolet. As they were waiting, he was laid off, which would have given him lots of time to work on the house.

stake through ficus pot in Grand Island NY
To prevent a potted plant from toppling over in the wind, drive a stake through the plastic pot and into the garden bed.

“But the house wouldn’t come and the house wouldn’t come,” she said.”The day it came, he was called back to work– with overtime.”

The Gartens saw only one option.

“There was nothing to do but work, work, work,” she said.

The materials arrived in September, and though the house wasn’t finished, they were able to move in two days before Christmas.

The following spring Evelyn started her garden, beginning with the bed in the photo above left.

“I expanded it quite a bit,” she said. “I curved it– it used to be straight. I like it much better.”

Evelyn sets her large ficus outside during the summer, but this year it kept toppling over in the wind. Her solution: Drive a stake right through the plastic pot and into the garden bed, as you can see in the photo at left.

gazebo in back yard in Grand Island NY
A gazebo offers a quiet place to rest and enjoy the gardens.

Here’s what she wrote for the garden walk booklet:

“Over the years my garden changed and grew. In the beginning I brought home many wildflowers from the woods, such as the tall purple phlox with their sweet fragrance, ferns and the orange lilies, which I dubbed ‘Japanese Lanterns,’ loved by hummingbirds. The faithful Lythrums and lastly the tiny ‘Blue Stars.’ All of these do so well in my shady garden and each year they return anew. But I am grateful to the many nurseries having such an array of plants and flowers to enrich and complete my garden.”


Don’t miss these other stories of garden walks from this past weekend:

Too shady for grass, Hamburg yard is filled with gardens, paths & curios

South Buffalo gardener fills many gardens with plants that spread

Broken pipe prompts Buffalo gardeners to create grassless yards


Here are garden walks scheduled for this coming weekend:

Amherst Garden Walk

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21

Get a map of the gardens here.

Ken-Ton Garden Tour, 10th anniversary

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22, with night tour on Saturday from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

This self-guided tour will take place in the Village of Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda. The night tour, called Saturday Night Lights, will be held 8:30 to 10:30 pm. Saturday, July 21.  Look for a guide to the gardens here.


Lancaster Garden Walk

10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22

The 9th annual Lancaster Garden Walk is a free self-guided tour of gardens. Programs are available at Two Chicks and a Rooster, 720 Aurora Street in the Town of Lancaster, and at Petals to Please,  corner of Central Avenue and Pleasant Avenue in the Village of Lancaster. For more information visit or visit them on Facebook. See the list of gardens on the 2012 Lancaster Garden Walk and a map of the walk.


West Seneca Garden Walk

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22

The West Seneca Garden Walk will take place for the first time this year. Pick up maps at Ebenezer Greenhouse, 1347 Union Rd., West Seneca. Get maps right here. Maps will also be available on the Burchfield Nature & Art Center website.


Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko

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