Considering that Buffalo Niagara is one of the top garden destinations in the country, it’s tough to narrow down the list of “must see” gardens to just 10. But here, in alphabetical order, is a list of the most popular, often-visited public gardens in our area.
Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens
Nearly 100,000 people annually visit the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens to enjoy amazing architecture and the indoor and outdoor garden sanctuaries. The Gardens represent a gathering place where visitors find peace and harmony as they enjoy the simple power of our natural world. Some even see it as a place for spiritual healing, meditation and reflection. A national historic site, this Victorian conservatory opened in 1900 and was, at the time, the third largest public greenhouse in the country, and the ninth largest in the world. Today it holds exotic treasures from around the world and features an aquatic garden, Asian rainforest, medicinal garden and family garden, as well as one of just two remaining Lord & Burnham tri-dome conservatories.
Central Library Garden
The Buffalo and Erie County Central Library garden is a fitting entryway to the region’s preeminent repository of great literature, rare books and historic manuscripts. The library’s plaza is surrounded on both sides by lush perennial gardens that bloom from spring through autumn, providing a colorful accent to the historic architecture found in nearby Lafayette Square. The library’s front steps also provide a great vantage point for viewing the city’s largest mural, “Wildflowers for Buffalo,” artist Louise Jones’ whimsical contribution to Buffalos public art scene.
Darwin Martin House Gardens
The Darwin Martin House, located in the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Parkside neighborhood, is considered one of the finest examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style design, and features a visitor welcome center designed by acclaimed architect Toshiko Mori. Rehabilitation and restoration of the 1.5 acre campus landscape, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin, is complete, and visitors can view the many built-in planters and urns, kitchen garden, conservatory plantings and the cottage built specifically for the Martin’s gardener.
Delaware Park Japanese Garden
Located behind the Buffalo History Museum in the Olmsted’s Delaware Park, the Japanese Garden was a gift in 1974 from Buffalo’s sister city, Kanazawa, Japan and is maintained by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. Lined with trees, shrubs, paths and unique stone lanterns, the lush gardens and serene lake provide a contemplative refuge for all of Buffalo to enjoy.
Delaware Park Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is one of the main focal points of Delaware Park, featuring varieties from the All-America Rose Selections. There are 33 beds, allowing for several combinations and arrangements of spectacular rose bushes in bright purples, pinks, reds, yellows and whites. At the eastern end of the garden is a prominent pergola, dating to 1912. The Rose Garden sits beside the historic Marcy Casino and is maintained by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
Erie Basin Marina Trial Gardens
The gardens start at the entrance and continue throughout the Marina. These gardens are unusual because they are specialty annual trial gardens. Visitors can view specialty cultivars that are grown and evaluated for the coming years. There are new annual varieties – more than 3,000 plants! – from all over the world. All plants are clearly labeled. There are areas of paved walkways, as well as some grassy areas around the gardens.
Forest Lawn Cemetery
Established in 1849, Forest Lawn, the region’s premier cemetery, is Buffalo Niagara’s largest arboretum. Its 269 acres are filled with undulated landscape, abundant wildlife and beautiful art and architecture. The original landscape was designed by noted cemetery landscape architects Adolph Strauch and Joseph Earnshaw. There are many gardens to view, including the Gratitude Garden in front of the Rosewood Mausoleum, a meditation garden in front of the historic chapel and, of course, the many individual gardens that families maintain.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a summer home for Darwin and Isabelle Martin, Graycliff is set on a steep cliff with sweeping views of Lake Erie. The landscape is partially restored to its 1930s appearance – the only landscape drawings known to be in Wright’s own hand – with design additions by one of the preeminent American landscape architects, Ellen Biddle Shipman.
Larkin Square and the surrounding Larkinville neighborhood is home to many beautiful gardens. Within Larkin Square you’ll find a wide variety of perennials and annuals in hanging baskets, pots and gardens dotted throughout the Square that lend themselves to an urban environment – and provide beauty throughout all four seasons. At Exchange and Van Rensselaer Streets, Larkin Development Group created park space with plantings, tables and umbrellas for the enjoyment of those who work or live in the area.
Niagara Square Garden
This is City Hall’s front garden surrounding the historic McKinley Monument in downtown Buffalo. The large mixed perennial borders contain many native plants that thrive in the tough conditions at the Square and provide a succession of blooms throughout the season. Buffalo In Bloom volunteers design, plant and maintain this example of large public plantings.