Gardens Galore: Open Season for Open Gardens

Buffalo is one of the great garden destinations in the United States. Our green scene can go hoe to hoe with any city in the United States, thanks in large part to a cadre of freakishly friendly gardeners who are pleased to post an “Open Gardens” sign at the end of their driveway inviting one and all to step through the garden gate for a look around on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the month of July. For free.

Organized by Gardens Buffalo Niagara, Open Gardens feature more than 75 private and public gardens of all shapes and sizes from modest sized city yards that punch way above their weight class to verdant country landscapes featuring ponds, creeks and meadows. Just show up at the garden gate during the public hours and you’ll have the run of some of Buffalo’s greatest gardens and access to the rock star gardeners who created them. A copy of the Open Gardens Guide — available for a $5 donation at garden centers throughout the region — will help steer you to Buffalo’s gardens of earthly delights. You can also find more information here.

Here’s a highly personal list of some of my favorite Open Gardens. But don’t take my word get out there and check out some of the finest private gardens in these United States.

Smug Creek Gardens (Hamburg):
Set on magnificent piece of property in the Boston Hills south of Buffalo, the garden of Mike and Kathy Shadrack is highlighted by a huge collection of hostas. Open Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m – 5 p.m.

Gordon Ballard/Brian Olinski Garden (Buffalo):
If plants could talk, Gordon’s and Brian’s would have quite a story to tell. This lush city garden has hosted more than its share of garden parties over the years. Follow the meandering stream to the legendary Tiki bar. Open Thursdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Charlier Garden (Buffalo):
This small city plot is packed with pizzazz, including a recently added shed that was featured in This Old House magazine. But this is no ordinary shed, it’s the Taj Ma-Shed, one fit for gardening royalty. Open Thursdays 2-6 p.m.

Song ’n’ Bird Garden (Tonawanda):
While it may be located in suburban Tonawanda, this gem of a garden feels more like a day in the country. Located on almost an acre of land, the Song ‘n’ Bird garden combines agriculture with horticulture and the results are spectacular. Open Thursday 2-7 p.m.