What Makes Garden Walk Buffalo Gardens So Successful?


Pull up a comfy seat, relax and as a designer, I will tell you. It is not the design per say, but rather the love that goes into each garden creation. It is trial and error and decades of experience. It is an artistic flare and the willingness to go over the top. It is the friendliness of Buffalonians. It is sheer…

Exuberance of plant and color. Take your time, grab a coffee and click every gallery to scroll through each image. The profusion of bloom in these gardens routinely gets into garden magazines, on TV and graces the front pages of prominent newspapers.


It is the attention to detail, coordination with the surroundings and a lot of color. Take note of how the garden works in concert with the building structures. The colors selected look to be pulled from a professional color picker. Some are loud, but really bring a sense of cheerfulness.


Can you imagine this much color?


Being this brave to have a flock of pink flamingos in your front garden?

How about having every square inch of space planted?


What makes them successful gardeners is the way they partner plants, and pack a lot into small spaces. The plants are always healthy and full. Even in a bad year for mophead Hydrangea, that garden above has a good show of bloom.


They are masters of plant partnering and timing the blooms for the event. It is why you will see many of the same plants. Garden Walk Buffalo is a two-day event, but many gardens are open throughout the summer in the Open Gardens feature.

It is the way they get you around their gardens and are not afraid to add trees to small spaces. Paths are creatively designed and have the viewer on a journey of exploration. Gardens may be small, but it is deceiving in the way the paths wind, twist and turn about a property. Take note of plant borders along paths. Even spots a mere more than a foot wide get beautifully planted. No space is too challenging for Buffalo gardeners.

They add ornament, furnishings and containers with great flair, sense of whimsy or elegance. You literally do not know what lies around the next corner. Some gardens are all about the artist’s creativity, where garden and art literally slam into one another.

Now what did you think of the artist’s garden above? The pond has floating cups and saucers in the pond. I bet you did not see that one coming.

They present and keep plants tidy. You might not have even noticed the lilac, Perovskia and Tradescantia being reigned in. A lot of work goes on in these gardens.

I think every gardener in the country should make a trip to Buffalo for Garden Walk Buffalo once in their life. It is truly a gardening mecca here, after all it is estimated that over 60,00 people visit it each year.

Hoverflies on Nature and Wildlife Pics. Little pollinators busy working the flowers the whole growing season.

Next on GWGT, Open and Gardens and more.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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42 Responses to What Makes Garden Walk Buffalo Gardens So Successful?

  1. lulu says:

    II so enjoy the gardens you share. I’ve learned the names of some plants and have definitely gotten some ideas for planting.

  2. Lula says:

    This si a perfect example of great reportage of gardens visit. I hope I can make the visit to garden Walk Buffalo day!

  3. Rose says:

    What a great post, Donna! Each of these gardens is worth a visit, but to have so many in one city open for viewing is amazing–definitely going on my Bucket List. I never thought of aprons on a clothesline as garden art, but I love it!

  4. Love these little gardens, so full of colour and fun 😀

  5. One take-home tip from Garden Walk Buffalo is to pack a lot of plants into your space. The second tip you can learn is to decide if you want a spectacular garden at a certain point in time. Many of these gardeners design their landscape so that it will be at its peak during the garden walk, which makes it a great destination for tourists. When you visit the other garden walks that are part of the National Garden Festival (most are from late June through the third week in July; one is in August) you’ll see different plants in bloom. Although those walks haven’t been around as long, the gardeners in those areas are learning to plant things that will be especially attractive during their garden walk. The lesson there is that if you have your family reunion every year in July, choose plants that should be at their peak when you’re showing off your garden. On the other hand, if you go on vacation for two weeks every July, you might want to choose plants that bloom earlier in the spring and later in the summer rather than have peak bloom when you’re out of town.

    • Good tips Connie, I did mention in the post the timing of the blooms, but not as thoroughly as you did in the comment. I do not subscribe to planting only for one season or event though. I design gardens to span the blooming months and to have color and texture last. These gardens do pretty well at having season-long color as well with all the annuals and containers they use. Plus our weather, especially this year was all out of whack for bloom times. So much bloomed simultaneously because of the late start to the growing season. Cool weather kept blooming extended too. The thing with the Buffalo gardens is they select long blooming plants to cover these weather abnormalities. One sees many hosta, Perovskia, Rudbecia and daylilies. Look how many weeping Japanese Maples are in this post, along with sedum arrangements. Many of the same plants are used by almost all the gardeners. What they learned, they learned from each other. As for the Open Gardens, every one I featured has the abundance of bloom as does these smaller City gardens. Even the newer ones over-planted their gardens to have the fullness. I saw one with very young daylilies all packed in. My friend and I commented how in just one more year these daylilies will have less bloom (or no bloom) and need to be divided. That is a big disadvantage to over planting – all the work to stay on top of it.

  6. Daiva Devereaux says:

    Thank you for such beautiful pictures I can share here in Michigan with my gardening friends. My daughter and her family recently moved to Buffalo and this was my first garden walk. I hope to use the inspiration to become a lot “braver” in my plant and color choices — and plant a lot more in my limited spaces.

  7. johnvic8 says:

    The quality of so many gardens and gardeners shines through in your photographs. And such variety. It’s hard to imagine what these gardens must experience in mid February!

    • If you are curious, check out my own garden in posts in winter. I write on garden design in winter to show a garden can have interest through all seasons. It is important in long winters such as here in Western NY. I design in trees and shrubs, plants with pretty bark and plant form and I personally leave grasses and most perennials up over winter for interest with a dusting of new snow. The birds like the seed too. Most of my clients do fall cleanup, ridding of the brown plants. I just have a different philosophy than those I do design work for though, one I do not impose on them. Also., think of Christmas decorating for those that celebrate, trees and shrubs are integral for lighting properties during the holidays. Some keep white lights on at night all year, great for entertaining areas.

  8. Brilliant and stunning. I must visit these gardens in Buffalo. What are the dates of it, Donna?

    • Garden Walk Buffalo is held the last weekend in July. This year’s date in 2014 was Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Many gardeners are so thrilled with visitors that they even keep gardens open past 4 p.m., great for late comers. As Connie mentioned, Open Gardens through summer are in the time frame she said in her comment. I just know they schedule AFTER our Lewiston GardenFest, the first garden event of the season. The National Garden Festival kicks off by opening after our event too, although they graciously have our event listed as one of the gardens included in the Festival.

      • Thank you for the info. I do really want to make a trip up there. Thanks so much!!

        • Like I told Sue, if I am available. I can meet you. Not that you need a tour guide or anything, but I can show you places that have gardens I feature. Plus, many people stay for days, this allows seeing other parts of western NY. The Falls is worth seeing too if you never spent much time here. Fort Niagara, and a whole host of other cool stuff happens or is in or around Buffalo.

          • I appreciate the possible offer. We have spent some time upstate and have been to Niagara and on up into Canada. I’m certain there are many nuggets we haven’t seen. I will place this on my calendar and see how it works out. Thanks so much!!!

  9. I love all the color that these gardeners experiment with. Such beautiful choices and dramatic results. I think I’m going to try to get up there next year for this Garden Walk. Thanks for your beautiful photos highlighting these magnificent gardens.

    • Do that Sue, I will give you the tour if I am not traveling or working elsewhere. The Fling should be held in Buffalo during GWB, but it would be impossible unless others from outside Buffalo organized it, since those that did it last time, live in Buffalo and their gardens participate. I just think Fling gardeners should experience this sometime. They cannot imagine how many people come here by bus loads and even from countries are far away as New Zealand. It is often publicized around the world in magazines and on travel sites. The really funny thing is, you can notice not all the gardeners in blogging find these gardens interesting though. That astounds me because as different as some of them are, there is always something special about them. Nowhere else until recent years have gardeners started planting hellstrips. This may not have been an original idea here 20 years ago, but it certainly happens like nowhere else in the sheer magnitude of numbers or design creativity.

  10. meander1 says:

    You’re a wonderful evangelist for this event, Donna. Your photos and enthusiastic words have made a believer out of me.

    • Ha, thank you. I never thought of myself as a cheerleader for the event, yet I do get very enthusiastic about how well these gardeners do each year. More and more join (about 397 this year) and whether they admit it or not, I bet quite a few try to outdo each other. Gardens just get better and better.

  11. bittster says:

    I liked your statement about the gardeners being willing to go over the top, for me that’s exactly what I like to see 🙂
    There are so many unique ideas, and plenty worth copying.
    Though I might not copy the cups in the pond look, that one’s safe from me!

    • I don’t often show those that are really crazy in design, but have quite a few in my files. Mainstream gardeners do not always appreciate the over indulgence or even the whimsical approach to gardening. I leave that to the magazines whose photographers would show these gardens in the best possible light.

  12. igardendaily says:

    Oh, I most definitely want to get there one day! I loved this post and all of your wonderful photos. The plants all look so healthy and the design superb, just my type of gardens. I can appreciate many types of gardens but my favorites are the ones packed with all types of blooms and textures. I loved the artist’s garden, especially the photos of the hanging aprons. Tea cups in the pool were a surprise. Like you said, much works goes into these living displays. I sure hope to make it one of these years!

    • I was so surprised when I saw the garden with the aprons. The whole garden had a whimsical theme. Much was kitchen items, but the golf bag was thrown in to make one really wonder what the theme was? Only in Buffalo… well I did see one in SF that I immediately said looked like a Buffalo garden. An artist owned that garden too. I should post it sometime, lots of color and mounds of creativity.

  13. Love all these gardens. Well, maybe not the tea cups. I have got to get myself to the Buffalo Garden Walk soon. These photos make me think I need to pay more attention to paths and garden art.

    • The teacups really are different. It is a garden all about the vignettes. You should come here one year. You will truly be inspired even though your garden is much larger. The paths and border beds make the walk through gardens such a pleasant experience with the added appeal of the unexpected. A few gardens I visited this year were so surprising when I went into the backyards. The two train gardens I visited were a complete surprise. It is far too bad that the Toronto Fling next year is so early, June 5-7 to miss the gardens in our area where people could have visited Buffalo open gardens. As a gardener from this area, it is so unpredictable what the winter will bring, maybe pushing blooming plants later like this past season. I know my own garden is really nice at this time, yet it still is a chance with a late freeze in May. My June 5th post this year, https://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2014/06/05/just-because-i-like-to-see-my-bees-big/ was missing the peonies and iris that happened a week later. June 18th was even more bloom. https://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2014/06/18/as-i-said-i-would-more-seasonal-garden-progress/. At the end of May is lilacs, but they were gone by June 5. I guess it really depends on the weather.

  14. Such beautiful details in those gardens and so much to discover. I can see visitors with wide smiles walking by, like little children in a candy store! 🙂

  15. They’re all beautiful, Donna. I especially like the one named “house-garden-coordination-4” The red house is so cute, and the flowers around it look perfectly placed, but natural.

  16. Annette says:

    I so love joining you on your garden walks, Donna. These gardens are just amazing with the eye for detail, planting combinations. Remind me a lot of Tracy Sabato- Aust’s approach and designs. People really succeeded in creating rooms – you’d think they’re living rooms which of course they are.

  17. navasolanature says:

    This seems such an amazing place. We have an open gardens day in London but this seems like a real community effort rather than just opening private gardens to the public.

    • It is a community effort. 397 gardens participate for the 2 days. It is well publicized and well known for 20 years running. Many individuals help to run it too. Businesses and corporations donate. Free buses are available since gardens are throughout the large city. I need your link. Many of my readers blog hop to those that comment on GWGT. If you can, come back and add the link.

  18. Karen says:

    You can see that a lot of love, hard work and imagination has gone into these gardens. Thank you for taking the time to share them with us…they are great!

  19. I think it is so successful because it is like having a community of great artists showing off their artwork, their gardens…so much color, creativity…

  20. I would really like to go on this garden walk some year. Why do you think so many excellent gardeners congregate in Buffalo?

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