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.