‘Beachside bar’ is relaxing spot in Riverside backyard

sand by bar and pond in barckyard in Buffalo NYby Connie Oswald Stofko

With water, fish, sand and a bar, it’s like a vacation resort in the backyard of Jim and Linda Whittaker, 56 Evelyn St., in the Riverside area of Buffalo.

The Whittakers  shared their gardens Aug. 3 during the Black Rock and Riverside Tour of Gardens, which included the evening Starry Night Garden Tour. This was the final garden walk of the National Garden Festival in 2013.

The bar essentials, including a refrigerator and a draft beer dispenser, are located in Jim’s garage (a sign on the door states that it’s “Dad’s Garage.”) Refreshments can be dispensed through a window cut into the side of the garage, which you can see above. Bar stools provide seating and if you want to unwind even more, you can stretch out in the hammock in the corner.

This year Jim was going to install some pea gravel in the area near the window, but his son Jonathan, 16, suggested using sand instead. That really gives the area a beach feel.pond in Riverside area of Buffalo NY

There’s more beach than water, but the small pond, which you can see above, is filled with fish and has a delicate waterfall.

“I wanted a fun space, a place to relax,” Jim said. “We have a lot of parties.”

The Whittakers moved in 28 years ago. Through the years they installed the deck, hot tub and patio, which you can see below. Bricks that used to line the edges of the yard were reused as the floor of the patio.

“Every time I say I’m done, I figure out something else to do,” Jim said.

When it comes to gardening, much has been done by trial and error. The dwarf crab apple tree below was moved three times when it was young until Jim found the right spot for it. The statue was a Father’s Day gift. pond in Riverside area of Buffalo NY

Along the driveway, he used to grow grapevines.

“I had a ton of grapes, but then the robins came and ate them all,” Jim said. “People told me to cover them with netting, but I didn’t want to look at netting.”

What he did instead was to plant privet bushes and train them to grow up the fence. It’s a tall but narrow growth, which you can see below. narrow privet growing up fence in Buffalo NY

“I like the compactness,” he said.

An interesting note: Jim and Linda’s daughter Cassandra Smith lives in the house on one side of them, and their older son James Whittaker IV lives in the house on the other side. It wasn’t planned that way, they said, but they all enjoy how it has worked out.

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7 Comments on “‘Beachside bar’ is relaxing spot in Riverside backyard

  1. the pictures of the yard brought a smile to my face, and feeling of how much fun this family must be.

  2. They’re electric lights. Jim ran wires underground and he has light switches on the fence. I’m not sure what the difference is between electric lights and electric lanterns.

  3. By electric lanterns I was referring to the shape of the lights which look like they are meant to hang, like a lantern. They really light up the tree.

  4. I have known Jim and Linda most of my entire life and the love and hard work that they both have put into their home really shows. There entire home inside and out is truly beautiful and it is wonderful to see that the rest of Buffalo gets to see the beauty!

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