Over the summer, I traveled home to New York to see Buffalo’s beautiful gardens and blooms. I found a few ways to stop and view the flowers. This included walking some of America’s largest garden tour, visiting a u-pick flower farms, admiring public art, and visiting the botanical gardens.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Buffalonians pack in as many outdoor events as they can and do it with perfection. Yes, I’m biased. It’s where I grew up.
My mom has always kept beautiful gardens throughout our yard and during this last visit, my dad counted, and my mom has almost a dozen gardens flower gardens of some type! This was after my parents downsized their gardening efforts by eliminating their huge veggie garden and koi pond. Plus, they have asparagus, wild raspberry, blackberry, and now exotic wineberry bushes growing on their property.
It wasn’t until now that I truly appreciated how beautiful her gardens are. Maybe it’s because, thanks to the pandemic, I hadn’t been home in over a year-and-a-half and I’m appreciating the basics of life. In general, I’m simply appreciating all life.
Garden Walk Buffalo, America’s Largest Garden Tour
My brief visit coincided with the annual Garden Walk Buffalo, America’s largest garden tour. Held one weekend each July, more than 300 gardens participate in downtown and the Greater Buffalo area (Erie County). Many of these gardens are private residences and it’s common for them to serve food and beverages.
I visited two gardens in downtown Buffalo and both were unique in their own way. One had a handful of water features, several scenes set in the lush foliage, and eye-catching art. This home also served pizza and cool beverages, like beer, wine, and water.
The second was quirky, and a bit kitsch with its flock of plastic flamingos, beta fish floating in water-filled bowls hanging from trees, and a mannequin chilling on a lawn chair in the backyard.
Open Gardens WNY, Thursdays in July
Each Thursday in July, about 100 gardens welcomed the public during an open house in what’s called Open Gardens WNY . My friend Beth Kreutzer serves as an officer on the Gardens Buffalo Niagara Board of Directors, the organization behind the garden walk, and her husband Brian open their lush garden to those interested in seeing their horticultural skills. They, and others, serve food and beverages, too.
Two things standout with the Kreutzer garden in Cheektowaga. One, a fire-spewing dragon greets visitors as they enter the backyard garden. My photo isn’t the best but I think you get the idea. It’s a metal dragon fueled with propane and Beth uses a remote-control fob to ignite it.
Two, the bar counter and table have more than 14,000 pennies! A mutual friend, Annette Hopkins, helped with the project. Annette is also an adult beverage coinsurer, and she helped the Kreutzers put together a fun cocktail menu for my visit. They included The Bubbly Dragon (a dragonberry rum spritzer), “Dirt”-y Martini, and Tarnished Penny (whiskey, cherry, and ginger).
In addition to beautiful flowers, gorgeous foliage, and fresh veggies, their garden has sculptures, pockets of secluded seating, a bridge and koi pond, quirky vignettes, and of course, the bar. Also, the Kreutzers pay tribute to family with painted stones for each grandchild and a rocked engraved with the couple’s name.
U-Pick Flower Farms in the Buffalo Area
If you’re visiting the Buffalo area during the summer and looking for your flower fix, schedule your visit during the Garden Walk Buffalo weekend or a Thursday in July. If your schedule doesn’t fit that, there are several u-pick flower farms in the Buffalo area.
Stepout Buffalo has this great article about seven u-pick flower farms in Western New York.
My mom and I visited Hen-Hawk Acres in Chaffee because it’s close to one of my sisters. Although we didn’t pick flowers, we enjoyed the shop and farm animals. I sure enjoyed walking the rows of colorful blooms.
Year-Round Blooms Under the Domes
Another alternative to see Buffalo in bloom is visiting the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. In fact, the last (and maybe the only) time I visited was while I was home one Christmas. It has a tri-domed glass, steel, and wood building making it perfect to visit throughout the year.
Flowers Bloom in Public Art
Head to downtown Buffalo and admire murals with beautiful blooms. There are plenty of Instagram moments to capture, too.
Impressive is the 80 feet tall by 160 feet wide mural “Wild Flowers for Buffalo” by Artist Louise “Ouizi” Jones. It’s part of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative. View it at 465 Washington St.
On the side of Revolver Records at 831 Elmwood Ave. is a colorful floral mural by Cassandra Ott.
Find more murals and other public art projects on the Albright-Knox website. The Buffalo News, the local daily, has a great piece of relatively new murals in the Queen City.
Share Buffalo’s Blooms
I love supporting small businesses, especially when they have cool products. The owner of Buffalo Gals Gifts is one of the city’s biggest cheerleaders. She creates uplifting floral notecards and ones with blooming buffaloes. I purchased a set of both and sent some out during the pandemic to spread some joy. See her collection of notecards and wall prints and other Buffalo-themed items on the Buffalo Gals Gifts website.
Why Visit Buffalo’s Gardens?
Gardens have many benefits for both the gardener and visitor. They are important for pollinators, boost your mood, and are a way of connecting people to nature.
The next time you plan to travel to New York, consider Buffalo. The city gets a bad rap for its chilly winters. It’s also in the Rust Belt with blue collar, industrial roots. However, in general, Buffalonians have big, warm hearts and the city is undergoing a revitalization. I imagine Buffalonians spend their snow days planning magnificent ways for enjoying summer. The resulting gardens, blooms, and art are from the heart and outshine the grayest winter days, making them worth a visit.