Gardens bounced back from Snowvember Storm in time for South Buffalo Alive

front garden on South Buffao Alive
The front garden is full of perennials and annuals. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

I heard something on South Buffalo Alive that I’ve never heard from a gardener on a garden walk before.

“Right now everything is just about perfect,” Peter Clancy said as he surveyed his yard at 39 Edgewood, Buffalo, on July 19.

Often gardeners will tell me about the spectacular flowers that finished blooming the week before, or they will tell me how much better the garden will look in a few days when a different flower is in bloom.

side porch on South Buffalo Alive
As you walk down the driveway, you see more garden beds and a window box on the porch. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

But Clancy was happy. Often the hot, dry weather will dry out the grass by the time of South Buffalo Alive, but all the rain we had previously kept the lawn looking wonderful. He expects his plants to get mold from all that moisture, but they were still looking great during the walk. And some flowers that were usually done by the time of the walk were still in bloom, too.

The landscape at the home he shares with his wife, Diane, was one of more than 60 private gardens that were open during South Buffalo Alive. The walk also featured public gardens, including Tim Russert’s Children’s Garden, which served as the headquarters for the walk.

Clancy’s yards look great despite the damage they sustained during the 2014 Snowvember Storm. He doesn’t remember exactly how much snow they got; it was around eight feet. They had to shovel the snow up above their heads.

Then they had to shovel the snow off the roof– and onto the front gardens, which flattened shrubs. They lost a hydrangea and holly bush, and other plants were damaged.

entrance to backyard on South Buffalo Alive
Shelving in front of the fence provides more space for pots at the entrance to the backyard. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Making matters worse, they had a gas leak during the storm, and part of the garden bed had to be dug up to make the repairs. The bed used to extend all the way to the sidewalk, but now the portion closest to the sidewalk is grass.

Then the sidewalks had to be fixed, so part of the lawn was dug up and had been recently seeded.

Despite the losses, the landscape is attractive and inviting, with one one group of flowers blending into the next.

“I like the wild effect,” said Clancy, who has been gardening since he was young and likes to try new plants.

One plant that was given to him by a friend is what he refers to as elephant ears, but it doesn’t look like the elephant ear plant I saw in a West Seneca garden. In West Seneca, the gardener brings the bulbs in for the winter. Clancy leaves his plants outside and they spread by root or tuber to the point that they are hard to control. Readers, do you know what Clancy’s elephant ear plant is? If so, please leave a comment below.

elephant ears seen on South Buffalo Alive
These huge plants are perennials and spread to the point of being difficult to control.
back deck and trumpet vine on South Buffalo Alive
The back deck is a lovely place to enjoy the fine weather. Notice the trumpet vine reaching up to the roof. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Clancy’s wife Diane says her favorite part of the yard is the back deck.

“I never want to be inside during the nice weather,” she said. “I like it up on the deck. It’s like this little piece of paradise.”

Beds line the deck, and a huge trumpet vine reaches to the roof. It’s on a trellis, but it digs into the house and actually made its way into the attic, Clancy said. He’s been cutting it back every year.

The couple has three children, now grown, who used to play in the backyard, as well as a dog. That’s why the vegetables are in raised beds along the fence.

Most of the backyard is shady. The raised beds are in the sunniest spot and Clancy will be able to harvest a good amount of tomatoes, he said, but there will be lots of green tomatoes left on the vine at the end of the season.

A huge grape vine climbs up a tree that has been dead for years, but the tree has been kept in place to support the vine.

Clancy spends a lot of time in the garden, devoting perhaps one day each weekend to it.

“It’s what I like to do,” he said.

Coming up this weekend:

The Black Rock & Riverside Tour of Gardens will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1. There will be a Starry Night tour from 8 to 10 p.m. the same day. Both tours are free. Pick up maps from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 1 at St. Mark’s/All Saints Church, 311 Ontario St., Buffalo or the Buffalo Religious Arts Center, 157 East St., Buffalo. This is the final garden of the season.

The Beyond Flowers bus tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1. You’ll visit seven sites where you’ll learn about urban farming, community gardening, creating community through parks, soil phytoremediation/reclamation, rainwater retention, rooftop gardening and more. The cost is $35, which includes round-trip transportation, tour guides and a box lunch.

raised beds South Buffalo Alive
Raised beds help protect plants from pets. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko


Update: Peter Clancy sent along these photos to show what his yard looked like during the Snowvember 2014 storm.


path to front door in Snowvember storm 2014
It took a lot of work to shovel a path to the front door. Notice how deep the snow is on the car at left. Compare this photo to the one at the beginning of the story. Photo courtesy Peter Clancy





shovel shows height of snow
A shovel gives you a sense of how deep the snow was. The red lines mark off the depth in feet. Photo courtesy Peter Clancy
view from the back deck in Snowvember Storm 2014
Here’s Peter Clancy at his back deck. Photo courtesy Peter Clancy
back deck in Snowvember Storm
Here a view looking up at the back deck. There was no place to sit– or stand! Photo courtesy Peter Clancy

12 Comments on “Gardens bounced back from Snowvember Storm in time for South Buffalo Alive

  1. Yes the so called “elephant ears”, do look exactly like rhubarb leaves to me. Where I had my rhubard on my farm it did spread a lot but in an area where I just have it alone with no other vegitation or flowers. So, maybe it spreads when it has the room with nothing in its way. Beautiful, garden though. Looks like a lot of work was put into it. also a lot of money and years to have such a established and well planned landscaped property.

  2. Looks like a plant a former Japanese neighbor planted. She called it elephant ears and said it’s edible. A friend dug it up before they sold the house, unfortunately some roots were left behind and it’s invaded other yards.

  3. They do look like rhubarb, but I have rhubarb and though I can harvest it more than once a season, it does not spread to other places in the garden. Not sure that it is rhubarb…maybe in the family.

  4. I got a lot of comments at the Garden Walk of “Rhubarb on Steroids”. I know it’s medicinal but I doubt you’d want to make a pie out of it!

  5. Now that I’ve read the wikipedia description of the plant, I think his friend is right. I’ve never seen or heard of that plant before.

  6. The friend who gave me this plant about 2 years ago also came up with the name…the common name is Butterbur, latin family is Petasites. His plants are in a very shady area of his backyard so are only about 3/4 the size of the ones in my yard, I guess due to the sun the receive.

  7. That ‘elephant ears’ looks a lot like rhubarb, both the leaves and the stalks.

  8. I bet they are glad it is flowers and not that snowstorm! The entrance is pretty in the first photo. Perfect? I am not sure with all the weeds and dry conditions in my garden. At least Buffalo and the surrounding area got more rain than we did.

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