By Connie Oswald Stofko
The front porch “is like another living room,” said Doug Lilley of Livingston St., Buffalo. “I love sitting out here. It’s peaceful.”
When he bought this 150-year-old double seven years ago, the upstairs porch was rotting and needed to be replaced. An addition to the back of the house was rotten and Lilley had to lop off the entire addition. The backyard was so overgrown, it was hard to walk back there.
Now the house and landscape are bright spots in an up-and-coming neighborhood.
I visited last year during Garden Walk Buffalo. This year Garden Walk Buffalo will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29. Five free hop-on/hop-off shuttles buses with guides from Explore Buffalo will run continuously both days.
If you live in the neighborhood, there is still time to sign up to share your garden. The deadline is May 15. Your garden must be in the area from Canalside to the Scajaquada, and from the Niagara River to Main Street. Register here.
The backyard had been an overgrown forest, and when Lilley tried to dig, he kept pulling up stones. But he wasn’t discouraged; he used the stones for the borders of his raised beds.
Now the backyard is the place where both Lilley and his tenants love to entertain.
A focal point of the yard is a platform with drapes that holds the hot tub. The color scheme of brown, turquoise and orange was inspired by a trip to Mexico. Even the containers carry out the color scheme.
Lilley relies heavily on containers. One advantage of containers is that you can change what you have in the pots from year to year.
You can also move containers around the yard. The large ceramic pots are heavy, but they can be moved, he said. He brings them all inside for the winter to protect them from cracking.
Containers don’t have to be used exclusively for annuals.
“I love hostas in pots,” Lilley said. “They look great in pots and you don’t have to do much to them.”
Nearby is another large fountain.
“If I had more land, believe me, I’d have more fountains!” Lilley said.
He brings the fountains inside for the winter to protect them; otherwise they will deteriorate over time. An alternative is to cover them with a tarp, but if the wind catches the tarp, it could act like a big sail and tip the top-heavy fountain over, he said.
Lilley met his husband, Alfred Calvet, online, and they have a long-distance relationship. Calvet lives in Barcelona, Spain. Lilley and Calvet spend time traveling back and forth.
So when it comes to developing the landscape, “Each year I do a little,” Lilley said.
That’s the advice he gives to other gardeners, too.
“Go slow,” Lilley said. “Plan things out.”
But if things don’t go according to plan, be willing to change.
“Those little tags that come on plants aren’t always accurate,” Lilley said. “What works here may not work over there.
“If you can change something change it. If not, work with it.”