by Connie Oswald Stofko
The backyard of Barbara and Anthony DiMino of Lockport has one feature I’ve never seen in any other garden landscape.
Because they’re situated on the Niagara Escarpment, their property ends at the top of a steep incline that shoots up three or four stories high at the back of the yard.
You can see this unique landscape during the 10th Annual Lockport in Bloom Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13. Free maps and brochures will be available during the event at the Kenan Center, 433 Locust St., Lockport. (This year the Lockport in Bloom table will be located at the Taylor Theater, accessed through the Meeting Room Entrance, not in front of the Kenan Center Building as in past years.)
Twilight in the Garden, an evening garden walk, will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 12. The gardens participating will be designated on the map for the day event.
When they built their home in 2003, a neighbor told the DiMinos that they wouldn’t be able to grow anything because there are stones everywhere. It took the neighbor four hours to plant four hostas.
The DiMinos solved that problem by creating raised beds for all their perennial gardens.
On the flip side, they have plenty of free stones. You can see a small pile of stones at the base of the shed in the photo above. A lush garden and willow were planted strategically so you can’t see the shed from the patio.
Above, you can see a seating area with a fire pit 10 degrees cooler than the sunny patio adjacent to the house. When the couple realized their children and grandchildren like to sit under the trees, they created the seating area.
They used five truckloads of mulch– You can see the tractor that Anthony uses to move the mulch around behind the colorful chairs. If all goes according to plan, this area will look different on the garden walk. While I was visiting, the DiMinos got a delivery of huge stone slabs that will create a floor here– They said it would have taken too long to use the small stones on their property.
Barbara doesn’t limit her gardens to the sunny sections of her property. This Irish-themed garden features Celtic statues and will include a fairy garden. It’s planted with different varieties of hostas– The large hosta toward the right near the lion’s head planter will get six feet tall, she said.
Barbara has hostas in a wide range of sizes, right down to mini hostas. She uses them in a border around the seating area to signal to her grandchildren not to stray into the woods.
“There’s poison ivy in the woods, which we have both discovered,” Barbara said.
Barbara likes collecting different varieties of plants– all kinds of plants. With so many new hybrids out each year, she can always find something new.
“I like new plants,’ Barbara said. “That’s my downfall.”
Another wonderful feature is the stream with small waterfalls that flows into the pond. When I viewed the stream from the area near the shed, I thought it must be a natural stream flowing from the escarpment. Then Barbara pointed out where the pump was, disguised by a fake rock scattered with mulch and surrounded by vegetation.
The pond is home to bullfrogs, just one of the many wild visitors attracted to this area. They get many kinds of birds including orioles, bluebirds, scarlet tanager, blue bunting, red-tailed hawks and four kinds of woodpecker. They’ve seen deer, raccoons, heron and a coyote, but the only critter they have trouble with is chipmunks, a complaint I seem to be hearing more from gardeners.
I didn’t show you any of the DiMinos’ many sunny gardens, so you’ll have to visit in person to see those. They have close to 1,000 daylilies, which should be blooming during the walk.
In addition, you may see plants that you don’t see elsewhere because the escarpment offers some protection.
“I didn’t realize how the escarpment changes the climate,” Barbara said. “We’re enclosed in our own little area.”
And as if all that wasn’t enough, wait until next year. The DiMinos bought the lot next door and plan to expand their gardens.
Upcoming Garden Walks
Amherst Garden Walk 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 12
Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday July 12
Buzz Around Hamburg, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13
Lockport in Bloom Garden Tour 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13, with an evening garden walk 6:30 – 9 p.m. Saturday, July 13
Snyder-CleveHill Garden View 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, July 13
Ken-Ton Garden Tour daytime walk from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, July 19 & 20 and night lights tour from 8:30-11 p.m. Friday & Saturday, July 18 & 19
Lancaster Garden Walk night lights from 8:45 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 18 and daytime walk 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20
Williamsville Garden Walk 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 19
West Seneca Tour of Gardens 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20
South Buffalo Alive 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, July 20
Garden Walk Buffalo 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27
Black Rock & Riverside Tour of Gardens on Saturday, August 2 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for the daytime walk and 8-10 p.m. for the Starry Night Garden Tour