Hill becomes focal point in South Buffalo garden

July 19, 2016
garden on steep hill in South Buffalo

These steps were already in place, but the hill was a blank slate when Paul Sabato moved in 23 years ago. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

plant tags on ring

Paul Sabato keeps his plant tags together using a metal ring that he said can be purchased at an office store. It’s kind of like the rings in a three-ring binder. Punch holes in your plastic plant tags and loop them on the ring. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

A steep hill that some people might see as an obstacle has become the focal point of Paul Sabato’s backyard.

He shared his garden on South Buffalo Alive, a garden walk that took place Sunday, July 17.

When he moved in 23 years ago, the staircase to the right was already there, but Sabato put in the rest, including an above-ground swimming pool.

The soil was full of rocks.

“You put a shovel in the ground and you’d hit a rock,” Sabato said. “They were just buried.”

He used the rocks to his advantage, arranging them as terrraces on the hill, and adding pieces of broken sidewalk and manufactured blocks.

At the top of the hill is a level area that is just lawn; Sabato cuts it with a weed trimmer.

When I visited, his garden was a busy hub for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. In addition to annuals, Sabato said he has about 40 species of plants that bloom from March through fall.

He starts in March with crocuses, which are followed by daffodils. Then later in spring come tulips, forget-me-nots, wild phlox and columbine.

Summer brings daylilies, monarda, shasta daisies and hostas.

Late summer through fall feature black-eyed Susans and goldenrod.

Some plants have migrated from their original spaces; the red monarda started out next to the pool and now fills in a wide swath from the pool to the path. He also has wildflowers, such as Queen Anne’s lace, that pop up here and there.

One spot is set aside for Hercules, his large Bernese mountain dog, who is still a puppy. To discourage him from plopping on the plants and squishing them, Sabato has roped other areas off using just string tied to small sticks.

terraces for gardens on steep hill in South Buffalo

You can see some wooden fence posts, center left, the remnants of a fence Paul Sabato built when his children were small to keep them off the hill. He added the terraces and gardens bit by bit. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

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4 Responses to Hill becomes focal point in South Buffalo garden

  1. Donna on July 19, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Very beautiful hillside garden. A challenge too.

  2. PATRICK GANNON on July 21, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Very Nice Paul

    Didn’t know you were such a gardener!!

  3. Pam Rose on July 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Fantastic garden! Just want to correct the dog breed… it’s a Bernese Mountain Dog, so named as they come from the area around Bern, Switzerland.

  4. Connie on July 27, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Pam, thanks so much for that correction!

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