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By Lyn Chimera

July is the time for Buffalo gardens to shine and welcome visitors from all over the country. There are community Garden Tours on weekends and Open Gardens each Thursday and Friday culminating with the Buffalo Garden Walk at the end of the month. For details on all these garden events and more, go to <gardensbuffaloniagara.com>.

To celebrate Buffalo’s gardens, Sally Cunningham, garden writer, garden tour provider, and all-around garden expert has written a wonderful new book titled Buffalo Style Gardens.

The idea for this book began with a presentation Sally developed about what you can learn from touring private gardens and what makes Buffalo gardens so special. She and Jim Charlier, who is an excellent photographer as well as having one of the most spectacular gardens in Buffalo, decided to work together on the book project. Sally wrote the text and Jim took the beautiful photographs.

After being turned down by two publishers, they were accepted by St. Lynn’s Press. While visiting Buffalo, the editor made a comment about Buffalo having a “style of gardens.” This comment led Sally and Jim to change the title of their book to Buffalo Style Gardens.

Sally told me she wanted to write this book for 3 reasons: for gardeners who want inspiration on how to express themselves in their garden, to teach good design concepts in plain English instead of in technical terms, and as a celebration of Buffalo gardens and how they have helped transform neighborhoods. Buffalo gardens have helped change Buffalo’s image from a rust belt, snow-covered city to one of beautiful and creative gardens.

Sally and Jim worked with many others to start the Buffalo Garden Walk, which is now the largest garden walk in the country. Due to their total involvement in this event, they are very familiar with the amazing variety gardens in the area. One of Sally’s frustrations in creating the book was not being able to include more of these gardens.

This isn’t just a pretty picture book; it’s a great source of information on gardening practices and landscape design. Each chapter is devoted to a different gardening concept with appropriate pictures as examples. The pictures alone are worth it, but the advice is the icing on the cake (or should we say the flower on the plant).

Throughout the book, there are sidebars and bubbles with information, gardening tips, and many suggestions for the home gardener.

The book begins by describing what Buffalo style means as well as how you can learn from looking at other people’s gardens. Sally also talks about learning from the people who come to visit your garden. It works both ways.

“Great Little Gardens and How They Grew” is the topic of the second chapter. I enjoyed the before and after pictures and how people developed some gardens to solve a problem like privacy or creating a space for outdoor living and entertaining.

The book goes on to talk about great garden design, something we all strive for. Sally encourages us to do more than casually look at gardens. Notice what you like, things that would work in your space, plant material used, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the owners; they are happy to share their gardening knowledge.

The last chapter is about plants; how to choose the right plants for your site, and ones that have “star power.” This includes perennials, vines, shrubs, and container suggestions. There is a section that includes best practices, helpful lists, and landscape advice.

Buffalo Style Gardens would make a great gift for friends and family who have moved from Buffalo or friends who wonder why you live in a place only known for snow! This book will surely convince anyone of just how beautiful Buffalo is and improve his or her gardening knowledge as well!

The book is available directly from Sally at her events and presentations, online at <buffaloniagaragardening.com>, at nurseries like Lockwood’s, Urban Roots, and Masterson’s, and at the Botanical Gardens and Darwin Martin House.

To contact me at Lessons from Nature, call 652-2432 or e-mail at lyn@lessonsfromnature.biz. I can e-mail or mail the gift certificates.