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