Be thankful: WNY is the envy of gardeners across the country

photographers in Buffalo garden
What we may take for granted—the hundreds of spectacular gardens we can see for free on garden walks and Open Gardens—amazed and delighted visitors this summer from GWA: The Association of Garden Communicators. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“We’re going to be the Buffalo of the south,” said Kim Halyak of Memphis, Tennesee. “That’s my goal.”

Got that, folks? Gardeners in other parts of the country want to be compared to us!

I met Halyak this summer during the conference of GWA: The Association of Garden Communicators, which was held in Buffalo. Halyak was one of the few attendees who had been to Buffalo before. Originally from Pittsburgh, she drove up with her sister to visit Garden Walk Buffalo.

She was impressed with what she saw in Buffalo. And she was disappointed that there was no garden walk in Memphis. That’s right, a big city with not even one garden walk.

Inspired by what she saw here, Halyak decided two years ago to start a garden walk in Memphis with members of her garden club, the Cooper Young Garden Club. They started with 24 gardens, grew to 84 gardens this past summer, and hope for 100 gardens next year.

She was happy to have the opportunity to come back to Buffalo yet again this summer.

“As we grow our own garden walk, we want to learn from the best,” Halyak said.

They got help from the organizers of Garden Walk Buffalo.

“We picked their brains,” she said. “They were so gracious.”

Halyak’s garden walk follows Garden Walk Buffalo’s example and doesn’t vet gardens. Anyone who wants to share their garden on the walk is allowed to do so.

Though their garden walk is only two years old, the club members are seeing the kind of results enjoyed by Garden Walk Buffalo– and by many of our local other garden walks. One gardener fixes up their front yard, then another, and soon all the neighbors are motivated to take action.

“This is how you change a place,” Halyak said. “I can only imagine what it will be like in 10 years.”

Halyak was one of only a few people at the GWA conference who had been to Buffalo before. Most of the attendees weren’t familiar with the wealth of beautiful gardens that we enjoy here. In fact, when they heard that the conference was going to be held in Buffalo, many admitted that they wondered why the group would come here.

But after touring just a sampling of the 400 gardens that we can visit every year during Garden Walk Buffalo, they had a better idea of the amazing gardening community we have here in Western New York. And when I proudly told them that Garden Walk Buffalo isn’t the only garden walk we have in the area, they were more surprised. And when I let them know that we can also visit gardens on Thursdays and Fridays through Open Gardens, they were even more astonished.

Let’s not take our spectacular gardening community for granted. Buffalo and Western New York is envied by gardeners all over this country– and in Canada and other parts of the world!

Let’s recognize and be thankful for what we have here.

Take a look at just a few of the articles and blog posts that were written by GWA members about what they saw here this summer.

You can see an even larger list of articles, blog posts and podcasts about Buffalo’s gardens on The Art of Gardening, the blog by Jim Charlier. He is past president of Garden Walk Buffalo and is active in bringing garden tourism to Buffalo.

3 Comments on “Be thankful: WNY is the envy of gardeners across the country

  1. Thank you, Connie, for letting me pick your brain and being a part of Buffalo Garden Walk and GWA. A special thanks for sharing the link to our Memphis Garden Walk. I look forward to returning to your beautiful city in the future.

  2. Dave, thanks. I want to make sure our local gardeners appreciate everything we have in our community. Other places don’t have what we have here.

  3. Connie, Thanks for all the attachments from other places. I think I read all of them. Very encouraging for the garden industry in WNY.

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