North Parade Front Yard Garden Competition – everyone wins!

Photo by Ed Healy

When you have a garden competition, there’s supposed to be a winner, right? Well, in this case, everyone wins.

Someone from the media takes a photo of homeowner
Darlene Hunter and Joe Han, of The English Gardener.

I attended the awards ceremony for the National Buffalo Garden Festival Front Yard Garden Competition a few weeks back. It also happened to be the Western New York State Nursery & Landscape Association’s (WNYSNLA) annual picnic, in MLK, Jr. Park, a Frederic Law Olmsted-designed park, right across the street from the 19 newly-renovated gardens. It was really, really nice. A back-patting ceremony between competitors complete with tents, picnic salads & stuff for grillin’.

For many of the awards, homeowners and landscapers either went up together, or in place of one another. Plenty of hugs from grateful homeowners, and my best surprise of all, from grateful landscapers glad to have helped and gotten involved in the process.

I do however, think that the only real award, that is the most deserving of any given, was by the North Parade Block Club to all the landscapers, presented to Neil Stern, president of the WNYSNLA. Here is the text of that letter:

The residents of North Parade Avenue would like to formally thank you 
for the wonderful work that was performed on our front yards. 
With your artistic talents, you were able to rearrange the earth and 
transform our front yards from ordinary to extraordinary. Each front yard 
displays a different theme, which compliments that home and enhances 
the character of each house. You have given us more than we 
could give ourselves at this time, and it is our intent to 
maintain and preserve the beauty of your work.

We are all overwhelmed with your generous gifts of landscapes
and hardscapes. your gifts of providing professionalism, courtesy,
dedication and diligence in record-breaking heat are humbly accepted
and greatly appreciated. If not for your generosity, this “History making Event”
could not have occurred. Thank you for going beyond our expectations.
Most of all, we thank you for the rejuvenated pride in our community;
the elimination of boundaries, which brought not only the residents of
North Parade Avenue closer together, but our community, which is now
linked to adjoining communities. We have greeted new friends and reunited
with old friends. We are gaining knowledge and sharing the experience —
all this through something as simple as the natural beauty of a garden.
Respectfully submitted, The Residents of North Parade Avenue

Mike Shadrack checking out something (probably food).
To the right of Mike is Mary Van Voorst, coordinator for the
NBGF garden tours and Open Gardens events,
two more HUGE aspects of the NBGF.

This declaration was printed, matted and presented in a large frame — all the residents of the street signed the matte around the letter. And it went out to these fine folks that happen to be generous landscapers. If you live in Western New York and ever need the services of a landscaper, you too, cannot lose by choosing the kindest, most generous and hard-working landscapers in the community:

Beaver Landscaping, Inc. (759-7044)
Beyond the Basics Property Services, Inc.
Birch Grove Landscaping & Nursery, Inc.
Dore Landscape Associates
Elbers Landscape Service, Inc.
The English Gardener, Ltd
Johnson’s Nursery
Menne Nursery Corp.
Murray Brothers Nurseries, Inc.
T. O’Donnell Landscaping
Pace Landscaping
S & R Greenleaf Landscaping

NBGF chairperson, Sally Cunningham with Joe Han.
Director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy,
Thomas Herrera-Mishler to the left (in tie) and Heidi Gee,
right, Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional.

The competition received additional support from various local businesses and organizations, including, but not limited to: Armor Fence Company of W.N.Y., Bedford Greenhouse, Bee News, Belgard Hardscapes, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Cooper Ridge Gardens, Gilson Gardens, Inc., Johnstons Evergreen Nursery, Lakeside Sod Supply Co., Inc., Landmasters, Localedge, Lockwood’s Greenhouses, New York Green Roof, Northridge Nursery, Oaks Concrete Products, Russell’s Tree & Shrub Farm, LLC, Unilock, Inc., Wright Frontier Arborist Services, and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation.

I can give you a rundown of the winners of the multiple categories, but I think it’s more important to let you know WHO offered awards. Because I think, in many ways that says more about our community than the awards themselves — printed on parchment, run through a printer and slapped in a frame. Awards were given by:

Second from the left, in tan shirt, is Otis, with the Olmsted
Parks Conservancy & community liaison
for the Front Yard Garden Competition.

Homeowners were given before & after photos of their front yards. I was glad to have had the smallest part of making this event happen. I plan on visiting the neighborhood often, to see what we’ve done and how it unfolds over time.

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