Buffalo Garden

An early morning visit to Parkside gardens

A 4:45 a.m. call for a live TV morning news show this past summer.

The Rose’s garden.

Over the summer I had the pleasure of visiting four gardens in Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood as part of a live TV morning news show’s (Spectrum News) coverage. The less pleasurable part? It was a 4:45 a.m. start. On a normal morning that’s about the time I get up, use the bathroom, and go back to bed!

Garden Walk Buffalo and the Parkside garden tour combined efforts this year for the first time. The Parkside garden tour ran for a long 21 years, and organizers wanted to continue sharing their gardens, but, as with most garden tours, it was down to just a few ambitious volunteers and less organizational “infrastructure” from its community association. Everything was convivial, and adding Parkside’s gardens to Garden Walk Buffalo seemed like a natural thing to do in Garden Walk’s 25th year.

Garden Walk Buffalo has always been open to expanding – they talk about it every few years – but only if a neighborhood came with multiple volunteers, and was adjacent to Walk neighborhoods. When the Parkside group approached us after asking around – it was as if it were fate. We gained 3-4 great volunteers, and about 50 wonderful gardens and gardeners. Garden Walk opened it up to Park Meadow gardens – the area on the other side of Delaware Park – and gained another nine or ten gardens.

Fortunately gardeners are good sports and I, with the help of volunteer Laurie Ousley, found four gardeners willing to not only be available – but to also appear on TV. Adding Parkside area gardens to the tour, it made sense to highlight these gardens in PR efforts.

Turns out that, over the years, I’d been in each of the gardens and knew them, if not the owners.

Pam & Joel Rose’s Garden
A great urban collection of trees.

Because the first one was a very early start, and I knew Pam Rose best – she got my first call. I showed up at 4:45 a.m. and she was out weeding her front garden by flashlight. Her garden is an Open Garden in July, and I’d taken a bike tour of gardens to her garden last year. She’d also participate in the Parkside Garden tour for many years.

Whether there’s daylight or not, she’s got a great garden. For a decent-sized city lot (most would consider small) she’s got an mini arboretum! She has a wonderful collection of trees and shrubs including weeping ginkgo, katsura, umbrella magnolia, Japanese maples, azaleas, and rhododendron. All are well marked with plant markers. She’s a professional medical librarian, so you can imagine how well documented her plant and tree collection is!

I’ve posted photos from this garden before A Bike Tour of Gardens in Parkside.

Michael & Catherine Pitek Garden
This garden is a lesson in how to do border gardens right.

This neat and manicured garden I’d been in before too, but it had been years. It is immaculate. I think he vacuums his grass. Everything is well-placed and they have an impressive collection of 24 varieties of ferns. Here, in addition to Michael being on air, uber-volunteer Laurie Ousley answered some questions for the live segments. I never did find out what each of our guest gardeners said on air. They were live segments, so they weren’t re-aired during the day. And I kept away from where the reporter and gardeners were speaking so as not to distract, or make  unneeded noise.

I’ve posted photos from this garden before A Bike Tour of Gardens in Parkside.

Melissa & Bill Maldovin Garden

Just across the street from the Pitek garden is the Maldovan garden – a bird’s paradise. Even the balancing birds in the video above. Melissa works at Wild Birds Unlimited, in Amherst, NY. By now it was around 7 a.m. and the birds were restless, competing for and screaming at the bird feeders. It was lovely. Melissa has a good collection of garden art, both found and purchased. She also has a wall of mementos and items attached to her garage wall, which takes up a big portion of the sitting area behind the house. It’s a great conversation starter and is endlessly fascinating to spend some time viewing – you’ll find something new, unique and odd for every minute you spend with it.

Here, Garden Walk Buffalo Chairperson Yolanda Fields joined us to answer questions on the live broadcast.

I’ve posted photos from this garden before: Squirrel Torture and A Garden Curio Wall.

MJ Szydlowski Garden
A shot of this has been shared on Pinterest hundreds of thousands of times.

Just around the corner from the Maldovan garden is MJ’s garden. I’d been in this garden plenty of times. MJ’s late husband, Frank Schuettle, was a acquaintance and an avid gardener that loved sharing their garden, and was always encouraging of my efforts to promote Buffalo’s gardens. He was a sweet man. I miss his presence. MJ, every bit as generous and encouraging as Frank, has more than just cared for the garden on her own – she’s taken it on by herself and it looks the best it’s ever looked.

The little “artsy” nook between their and their neighbor’s garages is my most-pinned photo on Pinterest, shared hundreds of thousands of times. Frank was an antique store owner and found great things to repurpose in the garden – from chimney pot plant pedestals to a full-sized building finial as garden art. I could walk the mossy stone paths around the garden for hours and never get tired.

I’ve posted photos from this garden before: Parkside Perfection and Awesome Artist Garden Alley.

Buffalo has the best gardens, no one garden looks like another. Each is as individual as its owner. No cookie cutter gardens here either. Buffalo also has the most generous gardeners sharing their gardens, even if it’s 4:45 a.m. Thanks to all!

2 comments on “An early morning visit to Parkside gardens

  1. A great potpourri of gardens, Jim! Love the creativity and uniqueness of each garden. I laughed at the reference to weeding by flashlight – been there, done that 🙂


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