other path at Jen Weber's gardens

Nothing like an outdoor wedding to jumpstart a backyard makeover

by Connie Oswald Stofko Jen and Joe Weber moved their family into their new home three years ago. When they got there, they found that the previous owners had planted bishop’s weed (also called goutweed), a nasty, very aggressive plant that spreads easily and is hard to get rid of. The bishop’s weed is still there, stretching 66 feet along one side of the house. Other projects, such as fixing “the path to nowhere,” haven’t been started yet, either, and…

grassless front yard in South Buffalo NY

Yards with no grass: See how these South Buffalo gardeners did it

by Connie Oswald Stofko Paul and Paula Moloney have lived in their house on Tuscarora Road in South Buffalo for less than three years, but they have transformed their landscaping by taking one thing out. Grass. There’s no grass in the front yard. No grass in the back, either. “We both hate lawns,” Paul said, “and I don’t like mowing lawns. I never have luck with lawns; they always looked like crap.” The couple started with the garden area nearest…

triangular plant supports in North Tonawanda

Geometric shapes–even sharp angles–add interest in North Tonawanda

by Connie Oswald Stofko As you walk along the driveway to the backyard, you make your first encounter with sharp angles. The vegetable beds are rectangles. Another bed is a triangle. Plant supports are triangles. “We have some circles and arcs to make the rectangular shapes more interesting,” said Paul Orrange. He and his wife Susan Orrange shared their Whiting Street landscape on the North Tonawanda Garden Walk in July. The Orranges have been in their home for about 25…

Shipman gardens at Graycliff in Derby NY

Pioneering garden designer Ellen Shipman impacted WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko She was known as the greatest garden maker in America. Ellen Biddle Shipman “trained herself in her own garden for 15 years, which so many of us can identify with,” said Rebecca Allan, garden designer. By 1910, Shipman was becoming prominent as a landscape designer—in a field dominated by men—and made an impact throughout her 40-year career. “She broke barriers to become a successful garden designer,” Allan said, “and she was a mentor to a younger…

pots with flowering plants beside door in Buffalo NY

Look for details on garden walks in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko We can be wowed when we walk into a landscape on garden walks or Open Gardens in Western New York. The overall view is magnificent and there is so much to see. Tip: Take a breath. Then take a step back. Look at the details and think about how you might work those details into your own landscape. The gardens in the backyard of of Kevin Lickers and Ricardo Arce in Buffalo are beautiful, but there is…

garden along fence in Amherst NY

What can you learn from this Amherst landscape?

by Connie Oswald Stofko When you’re visiting landscapes on the many garden walks and Open Gardens here in Western New York, it’s fun to just be wowed by what you see. You might think, “I wish I had a garden like that.” You can never completely replicate someone else’s landscape. Your yard might be shady where theirs is sunny. Or you might have a much smaller yard. Or you might not want to spend as much time watering and weeding…

fence in Orchard Park NY

Make your garden more welcoming with fences

by Connie Oswald Stofko Fences are usually used to keep things in, like pets, or to keep things out, like rabbits and deer. But fences can also make your landscape more welcoming. Here are two examples from the large Orchard Park landscape of Pat Gurney, who I visited last year during Open Gardens. (See her tips on using annuals and perennials here.) The photo at the beginning of this article shows a long fence between a sunny area and a…

pergola in garden in Amherst NY

More from the seven-garden guy in Amherst

by Connie Oswald Stofko You don’t have to know everything about gardening to enjoy a wonderful garden. “If you ask me the name of the plant, I have no idea,” said Jim Bardot, who has seven magnificent gardens in his front yard in Amherst. If you’re a gardener who doesn’t like to keep track of plant names, don’t let that hold you back. Get inspiration from what Bardot has accomplished. See an overview of his front yard here and see…

perennial gardens Buffalo NY

Gardeners ditched the barbecue & created an oasis in Buffalo

by Connie Oswald Stofko When Kevin Lickers bought his West Side home in 2007, the small backyard had absolutely no gardens. “There was nothing here. I’m not kidding you. No flower beds,” he said while gazing at the colorful expanse of perennials that fill the yard now. What the yard did have was a big grill. “It was distracting, Lickers said, “and we don’t barbecue much.” He and his partner Ricardo Arce got rid of the large barbecue (they use…

statues of face, dragon and Chinese warrior in Amherst NY garden

Statues & negative space can add a lot to your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko “I find a statue, then think, ‘What can I plant around it to accent it?’” said Jim Bardot. The statue that was the inspiration for this garden is the Chinese head, situated in the very center. “It sat by itself in the backyard for years,” Bardot said. “I placed it here, I placed it there, then I brought it out front and found other things to go with it.” This Asian garden is one of the…