National Garden Festival coming up: Garden walks start next week, open gardens in July

Buildings lit in green for Garden Walk Buffalo
Illustration courtesy Garden Walk Buffalo

 by Connie Oswald Stofko

The big question people have been asking me is whether the open gardens will return this year as part of the National Garden Festival. The answer is yes!

This year the open gardens will be held only in July on Thursdays or Fridays. The listing of all the open gardens should be available within a few days online. When the list is published, you’ll see the address of each garden and the times and days it is open.

You can see many of these gardens on garden walks, but these are popular gardens that are crowded during garden walks. During open gardens, you don’t have to contend with throngs of other visitors.

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the National Garden Festival, billed as a six-week long garden party, is held right here in Western New York. It’s in its fifth season and includes the open gardens; more than a dozen garden walks, including Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest garden walk in the United States; motorcoach tours; a garden art sale; the Beyond Flowers Tour, and more. See the entire schedule here.

The garden walks include a few new features:

The Ken-Ton Garden Tour will hold its Night Lights tour on Friday as well as Saturday; in the past it was held on Saturday only. Hours are 8:30 to 11 p.m. both nights. The daytime tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Lancaster Garden Walk is planning to have artists and musicians exhibiting their work and performing in the gardens. A new nighttime garden walk will be held from 8:45 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 18. The daytime garden walk will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20.

Demonstrations will be part of the Lewiston GardenFest on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22 in Lewiston. At 2 p.m. Saturday I’ll present “Get Crafty in Your Garden,” where I’ll give you ideas for crafts you can use in your garden as well as crafts you can make from what you grow in your garden.

Garden Walk Buffalo will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27. It marks its 20th anniversary this year and has planned several special features.

  • About a dozen buildings and landmarks– including the Peace Bridge and both sides of Niagara Falls– will be lit green to mark the 20th anniversary of Garden Walk Buffalo.
  • Thanks to the folks at the First Presbyterian Church, there will be a food truck rodeo in their parking lot at Symphony Circle from 10 a.m. to dusk on both days. Picnicking space will be available on the grounds of the Kleinhans Music Hall.
  • A beautifully designed publication commemorates Garden Walk Buffalo’s anniversary. You’ll see spectacular shots of gardens and get inspiration for your own garden. I wrote  “Less Lawn, More Life” and “Smart Tips for Small Gardens.” The publication is $10 and will be available at each of the three Garden Walk Buffalo headquarters as well as at garden centers, bookstores, gift shops and supermarkets. You can also order it online.
  • The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26 at First Presbyterian Church, One Symphony Circle. Bradley Thachuk, conductor of Symphony Niagara, will lead a concert of music inspired by nature. Purchase tickets here. At 4 p.m., Buffalo’s best folk acts will provide free entertainment on the grounds of Kleinhans.
  • The Burchfield Penney Art Center presents Burchfield Botanicals, an exhibition of Charles E. Burchfield’s botanical sketches and paintings paired with amazing life-like wildflower reproductions from the Buffalo Museum of Science created by Paul and George Marchand. The exhibition, which opens at the Center Friday, June 13, will be on view on through  Sunday, Nov. 9.The exhibition is in collaboration with Garden Walk Buffalo, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, the Buffalo Museum of Science and the National Garden Festival.
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