It’s garden tour season! AAA garden tours around Buffalo (and beyond)…

Plant Collector’s Tour – the Shadrack’s Smug Creek Gardens for daylilies and hostas.
Sally Cunningham, a woman
out standing in her field.

The National Garden Festival has a full slate of luxury garden tours this season – starting soon! This year, they’ve been re-branded the Sally Cunningham Garden Discovery Tours, as Sally Cunningham, WIVB Channel 4 TV gardening personality, Buffalo News columnist, Buffalo Spree Magazine writer, book author,  garden center expert, and horticultural consultant, has been hired to organize and host these tours along with garden tours outside of the region, including the Hudson Valley and New York City (she just led a full tour to the Chelsea Flower Show in May). There will also be a Caribbean cruise!

The tours are a project of AAA and its tour division, Horizon Club Tours. The bus tours are aboard AAA’s luxury motorcoach – including wi-fi, restroom and comfy seats. Each motorcoach tour includes Sally as your guide, refreshments/meals vary, and some trips include shopping opportunities. All promise to be a good time – laugh along with Sally and learn a lot too!

Touring gardens by motorcoach and a knowledgeable guide is a great way to see gardens – no crowds from the weekend garden tours; the gardeners are available to talk to an learn from; there’s no time pressure of trying to get in dozens of gardens like on a weekend tour; you’ll make immediate friends with dozens of fellow travelers; food, drink (and shopping) needs are met (depending upon the tour, obviously); and nothing beats a guide that knows their stuff! And a bus driver that does all the driving for you – no worries about timing, directions, parking and more.

My humble garden will be on the July 24 tour.
Okay, maybe it’s not so humble a garden.

Many of the gardens you will see are not on any other garden tours, so this may be the only chance you have of seeing some of these gardens.

My garden will be on one of the tours – the July 24, Buffalo: Heart of Garden Walk tour. I may try and meet up with the Sunset at Graycliff, Lakeside Cottages & Estates tour at Graycliff for drinks. I’m on the board of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff Estate.

Prices Vary. All tours depart from Orchard Park and Buffalo. Call 800-242-4244 to book a tour. You can also book online by clicking on the tour links below. A couple of the tours are almost full, so make reservations now!

Here are this year’s slate of tours:

July 11, 2014 – Lockport Wine & Flowers
Includes sophisticated gardens of expert plantsmen, wine tasting at Freedom Run Winery, lunch at the Tuscarora Inn, and some antique shopping time in historic Lockport. Est time: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. $75/person. Meal Choices for Tuscarora Inn: Tuscarora Club Sandwich, Open Faced Ham & Swiss, Classic Cobb Salad

July 13, 2014 – Buffalo: Cottage District
Includes private gardens (without the crowds) in the historic cottage district – Little Summer, Union, 16th Street area. Light refreshments provided. Est time 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm. $67/person.

July 18, 2014 – Buffalo: Eclectic & Artistic Upper West Side
Gardens from Zen to Victorian, tropical to eclectic Buffalo-style, visit some rarely seen gardens and some of the most famous and photographed gardens. Sally will provide plant identification and style discussion in gardens on Baynes, Bidwell, Bird, West Delevan and Auburn. Light refreshments at one of the gardens. Est time 4:30 PM – 10:30 PM. $67/person.

July 19, 2014 – Passionate Plant Collectors’ Gardens
Delve a little deeper into the secrets and specimens to be found in some private gardens of the “Southtowns” (and possibly shop a bit), with mini-presentations by Kathy Shadrack (woodland plants), Mike Shadrack (solutions for hosta problems), Marcia Sully (choosing a superior hosta), Carol and Anthony Haj (how to choose a daylily), and Dave and Barb Whittemore (Alpines and miniature plants for a railroad garden). Tour includes several shopping opportunities at Mr. Murray’s hosta showplace, Murray Brothers Nursery, Lasting Dreams Daylilies, and Lockwoods’ Greenhouses.
Your picnic lunch will be in the hillside gardens of the Shadracks’ Smug Creek. Est time 8:30 AM – 4:15 PM. $70/person

July 20, 2014 – Buffalo: Allentown and Johnson Park
One of Buffalo’s oldest, most architecturally diverse neighborhoods; includes intensely planted and artistically designed gardens where you will meet some of Buffalo’s gardening writers and artists Light refreshments in one of the gardens. Est time 12:00 noon – 5:00 PM. $69/person.

July 24, 2014 – Buffalo: Heart of Garden Walk
The Elmwood Village area boasts some of the most photographed, beautiful and original gardens, close to the charming shopping district. We’ll talk dahlias, espalier, and garden art. Est time 4:30 – 10:00 PM. $74/person.

July 25, 2014 – Buffalo: Architecture and Gardens, Treasures of Old Buffalo
From Victorian mansions to cottages of the 1700s – with Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederic Law Olmsted and E.B.Greene treasures sprinkled throughout – Buffalo has architectural treasures – many with great gardens. Including Larkinville and some historic Delaware millionaire- row mansions. Special feature: guided tour of the just-introduced Charles Burchfield botanical illustration exhibit (paired with the paintings) and luncheon at the Burchfield-Penney Museum. $96/person.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff Estate.
The only garden design done
in Wright’s own hand.

July 31, 2014 – Sunset at Graycliff, Lakeside Cottages & Estates
Feel the balmy summer lake breezes and relax, as you tour private gardens facing Lake Erie, where wealthy industrialists and prominent citizens have built their estates since the 1900s. tour includes several fine gardens with extraordinary views. The evening will wind down with the Sunset Tour of Graycliff (built by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Darwin Martin family), including wine, desserts and coffee. Light catered meal at one of the gardens. Est time 2:00 – 9:30 PM.  $134/person

August 1, 2014 – Secret Gardens of Java with Hidden Valley Animal Adventure
Sally has found some amazing hidden gems you have never seen before in the rolling hills of Wales, Varysburg, Java and Concord, including the Reisdorf sisters’ extensive gardens, the hydrangea and flowering borders designed by CNLP Joan Mariea (the Hydrangea Queen), the calming woodland Vogel garden and hosta collections of Mike and Anita Sheehan. Shopping time and a water garden showcase will be provided at Masterson’s Aquatic Nursery and Garden Center. We’ll enjoy a trolley tour at Hidden Valley Animal Adventures, where we can meet and feed extremely happy ostriches, zebras and antelopes (among many other wild, free-ranging exotic animals). You will feel you have traveled to another world. Boxed lunch is included. Est Time 8:15 AM – 5:45 PM. $89/person.

August 25 – 29, 2014 – Estate Gardens of the Hudson Valley

  • Visit Locust Grove, an Italian-style villa built for Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of Morse Code. The estate now operates as a museum and nature preserve featuring historic gardens, art, and antiques displayed in 25 rooms of the main house.
  • Authentic Dutch dinner at Mesier Homestead.
  • Tour the Orange County Arboretum, a 35 acre display of trees, shrubs, and plants, with magnificent raised gardens, cascading water features, and an Arboretum, home to the Remembrance Walkway and Garden to honor those who were lost or whose lives have been altered by the tragic events of September 11.
  • Visit Stonecrop Gardens, 12 acres of gardens and plants, including woodland and water gardens, raised alpine and stone beds, cliff rock gardens and an English style flower garden.
  • Visit Hyde Park and the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Site. See the Beatrix Farrand Gardens at Dellefield, and have a self-guided tour of the newly renovated FDR Museum and Library followed by a guided tour of the home.
  • Guided tour and lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s premier culinary college.
  • The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park was built in 1898 by Frederick Vanderbilt. Landscaped grounds feature a formal terraced garden, expansive lawns, carriage roads, and a three mile long riverside hiking trail.
  • Tour the home and gardens of Kykuit, home to four generations of Rockefellers. The villa was completed in 1913 for John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company. An underground art gallery holds works from the collection of Nelson Rockefeller, including pieces from Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder. Dramatic grounds feature formal gardens in a variety of styles and contain fountains, pavilions and Nelson’s collection of large-scale sculptures.
  • Tour Lyndhurst Mansion, featuring stained glass and murals, a dining room created to resemble a medieval banquet hall, and a two-story art gallery. The grounds feature a rose garden and a restored fern garden, as well as the estate’s carriage house and conservancy.
  • Tour Union Church of Pocantico Hills, a simplestone country church containing fine examples of modern stained-glass art commissioned as memorials by members of the Rockefeller family.
  • Tour Innisfree Gardens, one of the “world’s ten best gardens.” Innisfree is a powerful icon of 20th century landscape design. It merges the essence of Modernist ideas and traditional Chinese and Japanese garden design principles with a nuanced reading of its glacial landscape.
  • Tour Wethersfield Gardens, a 1200 acre property situated at an elevation of 1200 feet, the highest point in the region, which provides panoramic views of the Catskills to the west and the Berkshires to the north.

          $1,265/person, Double $1,025/person; includes:

  • Roundtrip motorcoach transportation from Buffalo, Rochester, or Syracuse
  • 4 nights hotel accommodations
  • 7 meals: 4 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, and 2 Dinners
  • Baggage Handling (1 piece per person)
  • Services of gratuities for a Professional Tour Director and Local Guide
  • Gratuities for your motorcoach driver
  • All applicable taxes and fees

September 12 – 15, 2014 – Botanical Gardens of New York City

  • Cornell Plantation – Take a self- guided tour of this 25-acre botanical garden in Ithaca.
  • Brooklyn Botanical Gardens – Admission is included to this 52-acre garden which includes a number of specialty “gardens within the Garden,” plant collections, the Steinhardt Conservatory, three climate-themed plant pavilions, a white cast-iron and glass aquatic plant house, and an art gallery.
  • Time on own for lunch and shopping in Brooklyn Heights.
  • Wave Hill – Enjoy a self-guided tour of this 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the majestic Hudson River.
  • New York Botanical Garden – The guided tram tour offers a relaxing and informative way to see much of this National Historic Landmark’s beautiful natural terrain, including dramatic rock outcroppings, a river and waterfall, ponds, and rolling hills.
  • High Line – An elevated freight rail line on Manhattan’s West Side transformed into a public park with more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Learn more about the park’s history, design, public artworks, and horticulture on your docent led tour.
  • Bakers Acre’s Gardens & Greenhouse – One of the largest herb and perennial growers in Central New York. Browse their wide selection of annuals, trees, shrubs, garden supplies and gifts.

          $1,085/person; Double $849/person; Triple $765/person; Quad $725/person, includes:

  • Roundtrip motorcoach transportation from Buffalo, Rochester, or Syracuse
  • 3 nights hotel accommodations
  • 6 meals: 3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches and 1 Dinner
  • Baggage handling (1 piece per person)
  • Services of and gratuities for a Professional Tour Director
  • Gratuities for your motorcoach driver
  • All applicable taxes and fees

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