Create an elegant landscape on a budget with tips from Buffalo gardener

evening sun on gauzy tent in backyard in Buffalo
This is one of several seating areas in the backyard of Pat Bobo. She bought this furniture new, but it was on sale. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
front garden on Samuel Capen Garden Walk in Buffalo
This garden bed is not only in the front of the yard, it wraps along the side of the yard and continues along the house. Containers on the porch add to the welcoming feel. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Pat Bobo has an elegant landscape filled with flowers, shrubs, fruits and vegetables, but she doesn’t spend a lot of money on plants.

One example is the lush grape vine she picked up for a dollar. When she bought the plant, it was on its last legs, she said, but now it’s thriving.

“I don’t like paying over $4 or $5 for a plant,” Bobo said. “I pride myself on getting things for a dollar or fifty cents and bringing them back to life.”

You can see her gardens at 28 Shirley Ave., Buffalo, during the Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk. The walk, named for the first full-time chancellor at the University of Buffalo, showcases gardens in the University District and will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

Pick up maps at the UB Anderson Gallery, 1 Martha Jackson Place (off Englewood Avenue, south of Kenmore Avenue), Buffalo. You can also pick up maps until 2:30 p.m. at the University Community Farmers Market, Main Street at Kenmore Avenue, Buffalo. There is parking at both sites. A downloadable map will be available a few days before the walk at the Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk website.

shady garden in Buffalo NY
An area where grass wouldn’t grow is now a shade garden. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

There will be a complimentary shuttle provided by the University at Buffalo. The shuttle will stop at the map pick-up sites and various other spots that will be noted on the map.

New this year are tour guides on the shuttles who will answer questions and provide a little historical background and information about some of the Capen Garden Walk neighborhoods bordering the UB South Campus.

Also new this year is the Capturing the Garden photo contest and exhibition. Visitors can take photos during the walk and submit them by July 20 to the contest for free. There is a $50 cash prize. Participants will be included as part of the “Capturing the Garden” exhibition that will be held in August at Amy’s Place Restaurant, Buffalo Roots, Hydroponics and Organics, and Queen City Imaging as part of the University Heights Arts Association Crawl Partnering Program. See the contest rules here.

For Bobo, the only thing better than getting inexpensive plants is getting them for free. As she showed me around her garden, she pointed out plants that she had gotten from friends, a coworker or another gardener on the garden walk, including a raspberry bush, hostas and yellow flowers called sundrops. When a nearby store closed, the owner allowed her to dig up some plants from the landscape. (Get more tips on rescuing plants.)

Most of the plants in her garden are perennials, which come back every year and spread. When she gets too many, she likes to share the plants with other people.

“I don’t have the heart to throw away a plant, so if I can’t give it away, I find a spot for it,” Bobo said. “It may not be the best spot, but I just stick it somewhere and maybe it will grow.”

seating area in driveway in Buffalo NY
Pat Bobo uses part of her driveway as an entertainment area. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Originally from St. Louis, Bobo was new to Buffalo when she moved into her home about 18 years ago. There was a shady area in the back where “grass wouldn’t half grow,” she said. When she started going on garden walks and Open Gardens, she discovered shade gardens. She talked to the gardeners and got tips on how to improve the clay soil (add compost) and what plants to choose.

Now that shady area is a pleasant getaway with a path, a goldfish pond, a seating area and lots of plants including oregano, sage and horseradish.

Another way she saves money is by buying things at Buffalo ReUse and Habitat for Humanity Restore, where she says they know her by name. She suggests visiting often.

“You never know what you will find,” Bobo said. She has gotten pavers for her paths, wood, gardening tools and bags of mulch.

A raised bed built right on her driveway is held in place by cinder blocks (actually half blocks) that she got from Buffalo ReUse.

The iron park bench closest to the bed was free– It had been set out as trash.

“I was on my way somewhere and I was dressed up, but I stopped my car,” Bobo said. The lady who was discarding the bench helped Bobo get it into her car.

I like the rug in that area. It looked like it was made out of some kind of fiber, but it’s actually plastic and can be left out in the rain.

planter on castors from palletes in Buffalo NY
This planter is made from pallets. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Another thing to notice is how she reclaimed part of the driveway to create that seating area. She has a long driveway and doesn’t park her car in the garage, so that is another spot to entertain or just sit and listen to the birds.

The last tip from Bobo is a planter she made out of pallets. (See more on working with pallets here.) Pallets have gaps in them, so she got slats for fencing and nailed them into the gaps. The castors (bought at Buffalo ReUse) allow the large unit to be moved easily.

The finishing touch is the simple lattice made of upright rails and string. When the beans vine up the lattice, it creates a screen to give the seating area more privacy.

Other garden walks this weekend:

Snyder-CleveHill Garden View from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

Town of Amherst Garden Walk from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

Buzz Around Hamburg from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12.

Lockport in Bloom from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12. Twilight in the Garden
evening tour will be held from  6:30–9 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

4 Comments on “Create an elegant landscape on a budget with tips from Buffalo gardener

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing this gardener for some time, and you have captured her creativity as well as the beauty and comfort of the surroundings that her garden has to offer. Bravo!

  2. I like the first photo too, So pretty with the sunbeam and reflections. Very clever use of space in the driveway, too.

  3. Thanks, Donna. I almost didn’t use it because the flower beds are obscured, but I think it helps give you a feel for the landscape.

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