Buffalo-Style Gardens

Gallery Above
Clockwise from left


Lancaster Avenue


Baynes Street

Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Gardens Can be Found All Over Buffalo

Buffalo-style Gardens authors Jim Charlier and Sally Cunningham

Buffalo’s gardens are so quirky, creative and fun that visiting garden writers have said they should be considered a unique style all their own – the Buffalo-style garden! There’s even a new book on the subject by Buffalo gardeners Sally Cunningham and Jim Charlier. (Available locally at Talking Leaves Books in the Elmwood Village.)

So, what exactly is a Buffalo-style garden? Well, they are all lush and traditional enough to be called fine gardens, but with a creative twist.

No matter the size, each one has its own kind of welcoming energy and a unique personality that speaks volumes about its creators. No cookie cutter landscapes here. Every garden has been built and tended by the gardeners themselves. These are approachable, relatable, livable environments that bring a smile and warm the heart.

These homeowners haven’t designed “by the book.” They aren’t professionals – some had never gardened before taking a shot at sprucing up their yards. But the common design thread connecting the hundreds of gardens of Garden Walk Buffalo, Buffalo Open Gardens and the 16 other garden walks and tours in the surrounding suburbs is the individual artistic sense of the gardeners, their way of personalizing an outdoor space, their love of the objects and plants they bring to it. And their deep respect for the environment.

These gardeners seem to intuitively understand certain design and artistic rules. They played with their space, with colors and shapes; they found creative ways to overcome challenges, like a neighbor’s ugly garage wall or a large tree in the “wrong place.” Most of all, they loved making something just their own that gave them joy. And they demonstrated for the thousands of visitors to their gardens how heart, persistence and go-for-it experimentation can make a garden fabulous even when it’s not exactly “by the book.”

Buffalo-area gardeners have unintentionally created a “garden design laboratory” for our 21st century sensibilities and lifestyle. Our yards – from Tonawanda and Amherst to Hamburg and Holland — have become outdoor laboratories, inspired by each other and by busloads of responsive visitors. The gardeners have demonstrated that we need not be tied to the old ways of a demanding expanse of green lawn, foundation beds, with the flowers and veggies out back, and the (often) hopeless-looking hellstrips at the curb. Instead, we can put the flowers and edibles out front. We can bring personal art pieces to the garden. We’re not marching to just one drummer anymore. So, this real-life laboratory teaches us smart, creative shortcuts, design solutions and ways of living the good life in all kinds of outdoor spaces. And most amazingly to our guests: We openly share everything we know and do with garden tourists – and they go away singing the praises of our livable city and horticultural mecca.