Buffalo’s rebirth is characterized not only by its now bustling waterfront, emerging craft beer scene and vibrant culinary sector, but also growth in the city’s green scene: its parks, gardens and lively horticultural community. The cultivation of local gardens – both in large parks and on small, private properties – is an effort to beautify Buffalo’s neighborhoods and enhance the region’s appeal to visitors. Take a midsummer tour of public and private gardens at Garden Walk Buffalo or admire the flowers at one – or all – of the beautiful parks maintained by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. Whether you’re looking to simply smell the flowers or pick up a gardening tip or two, Buffalo’s gardens and nurseries have something for everyone.
Gardens Buffalo Niagara produces a lengthy menu of garden-related activities all summer long. Chief among them is Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the United States, held the last weekend of July. Celebrating its 23rd year in 2017, Garden Walk Buffalo attracts more than 60,000 plant enthusiasts annually to its self-guided tour of the unique urban gardens on properties throughout the city’s West Side. Map your own path through the breathtaking arrangements of stunning flowers in the more than 400 participating private and public gardens to truly get a sense of the revival of the city. Other notable garden events sponsored by Gardens Buffalo Niagara include Open Gardens throughout the month of July, the Beyond Flowers Tour and East Side Momentum Tour in early August and a series of Garden Walks and Tours in the towns and villages of Erie and Niagara Counties.
Other horticultural highlights include the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. Committed to inspiring appreciation for plant life and instilling the importance of conservation, the Gardens serve as a place for visitors to experience the natural world firsthand. The Gardens’ South Park Conservatory, modeled after the Crystal Palace at Kew Gardens in England, is still considered one of the greatest accomplishments of architects Lord & Burnham. Aside from gorgeous indoor and outdoor garden sanctuaries, the Gardens offer events and educational exhibits designed for adults and children alike.
Flower lovers should also pay a visit to the Erie Basin Marina Gardens, a collection of elegant flowerbeds stretching for half a mile with views of the 1833 Lighthouse, Buffalo’s oldest standing structure. The unique gardens also serve as a “test” for commercial growers to determine whether their seed will flourish in the Northeast climate. While you’re downtown, stop by Niagara Square for a view of Buffalo’s City Hall – one of the most impressive Art Deco buildings in the country – and while you’re at it, take a look around at the magnificent perennials and annuals maintained by the Master Gardeners of Buffalo.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of 850 acres of parks and gardens throughout the city of Buffalo, maintains a number of notable gardens. Explore the gorgeous Delaware Park Rose Garden and the lesser known Rhododendron Garden or take a stroll at the Buffalo History Museum to view the Buffalo Japanese Garden, a symbol of sister-ship between the Queen City and Kanazawa, Japan. The conservancy also maintains the RiverRock Gardens at Riverside Park, the largest rain garden in Buffalo, and the Cottage Garden at Martin Luther King Park, among others.
Not satisfied by simply admiring the local gardens? Visit Lockwood’s Greenhouses and Nursery, a nine-acre family farm that has become a destination garden center for locals and visitors alike. The farm sells a vast variety of plants and serves as an educational venue, offering gardening workshops, classes, and guest speakers. Similarly, Urban Roots Garden Center, a cooperative garden center in the City of Buffalo, sells affordable plants and gardening supplies while fostering a sense of community through education, employment, and volunteer efforts to beautify Buffalo.