sand by bar and pond in barckyard in Buffalo NY

‘Beachside bar’ is relaxing spot in Riverside backyard

by Connie Oswald Stofko With water, fish, sand and a bar, it’s like a vacation resort in the backyard of Jim and Linda Whittaker, 56 Evelyn St., in the Riverside area of Buffalo. The Whittakers  shared their gardens Aug. 3 during the Black Rock and Riverside Tour of Gardens, which included the evening Starry Night Garden Tour. This was the final garden walk of the National Garden Festival in 2013. The bar essentials, including a refrigerator and a draft beer…

gardens around inground pool with waterfall in Amherst NY

Amherst backyard with lavish gardens was setting for wedding

by Connie Oswald Stofko Pam Weinrieb  loved her home at 445 Lebrun Rd., Amherst, but she didn’t like how it looked in the front. So for years she concentrated her gardening efforts on the front. When her son decided to get married and wanted the 2011 ceremony in her backyard, she turned her attention to the backyard. The result is a 1.3-acre lot filled with lavish gardens. I visited during the Amherst Garden Walk, held July 20. Above you can…

border garden in Snyder NY

One project each year turns ‘wasteland’ into vacation spot

One project every year has turned a fixer-upper house with no garden into a relaxing getaway at 389 Berryman Dr., Snyder. I visited during the 11th annual Snyder-Cleve Hill Garden View, held Sunday, July 14. When Debbie Hanny moved in 13 years ago, “There was no garden. It was a wasteland.” The project in the first year was to install the fence in the front yard. This past fall, she and her partner Jerry Schultze put in the raised bed…

brick walkway in Locport NY

Brick paths, stone waterfall are highlights of Lockport yard

Handmade hardscapes are the highlights of the yard of John Taylor and Mary  Brennan-Taylor of 480 Pine St., Lockport. You can see their yard this weekend during Lockport in Bloom, a citywide garden tour to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14. The event will also feature Twilight in the Garden from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday only and a vendor fair 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Maps will…

Grand Island gardeners develop landscape at new build

After having their house built five years ago, Paul and Debbie Acquisto of 270 South Lane, Grand Island, enlisted the help of landscapers to get them started with their garden design. They shared their gardens during the Grand Island Garden Tour, a new garden walk that was  part of the National Garden Festival this year. It was held July 6 and 7. Even though they worked with landscapers, the couple didn’t attempt to do everything at once. Every year they…

Peaceful backyard will join 30 other yards on Hamburg garden walk

“My favorite time is the morning and night,” said Marg Rust as she surveyed the garden beds in her backyard at 71 Rosedale, Hamburg. “That’s when you get the filtered sun reflected off the pond. It’s so peaceful. “It’s good for the psyche and the soul to surround yourself with things that are beautiful.” She pointed out a pond plant, which you can see in the first photo. The plant at the bottom left with a spikey ball at the…

Cheektowaga gardener stays organized with careful notes

Chet Okonczak can tell you the name of every plant in his garden, and if he’s not sure of a name, he can easily look it up. Organized in a three-ring photo album are hand-drawn maps of each plant in the six beds in his backyard at 38 Brentwood, Cheektowaga. On the same page are photos of that bed at various times of the year. In the pocket on the back of the page he keeps the plant tags so…

forest-like backyard in Buffalo NY

Serenity of a forest found in City of Buffalo backyard

by Connie Oswald Stofko Many people struggle with shady yards, wishing they could grow the plants they see in sunnier gardens. Jeff Lokken is different. He embraces his canopy of trees. The result is a forest-like retreat from the noise of the city. We visited Lokken last year during Garden Walk Buffalo at the home he shares with Rebecca Bish at 170 Prospect Ave., Buffalo. This year Garden Walk Buffalo will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday…

pond in Riverside area of Buffalo NY

Pond in Buffalo evolved from space that held garage for Model T Ford

How this pond was created is a long story that involves a garage built for a Model T Ford, two kids’ fascination with WWI and a couple who know how to rescue great items from the trash. The story starts in 1995 at the home of Michelle and Jim Schmitt at 253 Crowley Avenue in the Riverside area of Buffalo.They had an old garage that had been built for a Model T. It even held some Model T parts, including…

Cherry blossom festival is budding in Buffalo’s Japanese Garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Just as they do in the United States, the cherry trees in Japan bloom first in the southern part of the country and later in the north. Visitors enjoy the spectacular views and accompanying celebrations, and some tourists follow the festivities from south to north during the cherry blossom season. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for tourists in this country to be able to do the same thing? Washington, D.C. already holds the huge National Cherry Blossom…