Small but Mighty-The (not so) Private Gardens of Buffalo

I’ve been very fortunate to have seen many private gardens in my life especially during my time as WA Chairman and later West Australian Co-ordinator of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme.

I just returned back home from the USA feeling very grateful indeed after 3 whole weeks of garden visiting-let’s call it, my American garden immersion-more on that later.

There is something very special about the people who open their private garden spaces so that others may share first hand the very personal interpretations and manipulation of nature particularly in an urban setting. There are so many reasons to lock ourselves away these days after hours spent behind desks in stressful jobs so many people travel back home after enduring a long commute, drive in the garage, pull down the roller door and flop into the sanctuary of home, locking the outside world out. Gardeners who share their gardens are the complete opposite, they throw open that garage door and say to the world “come on in and see what I have done”

As part of the recent Garden Writers conference, in Buffalo NY, my garden bestie AZ Plantlady and 350 or so other wonderful garden communicators, many of whom I feel so honoured to now call my friends, spent days exploring about 20 gardens which had opened the previous weekend for Buffalo Garden Walk at which more than 400 (!!) gardens were open in the Buffalo area.

The gardens we visited were mostly within walking distance of each other and ranged from tiny cottages in which the driveways had been converted to container garden spaces to larger homes with areas of lawn and garden borders.

Gardening in this part of the world is a short seasonal thing-while we garden all year round in Perth, these guys go hard at it for only about 4 months of the year due to the frosts and heavy layers of snow-white stuff that falls from the sky and covers the ground-you know what I mean, like the movie Frozen, yes that’s the stuff.

Jim Charlier is one of the members of GWA who also opens his Buffalo garden and I asked him about the gardening season in Buffalo and he has provided some insight into gardening in that part of the world, here’s what Jim had to say “We start in earnest about the second week of May. Our average last frost date is mid-May. Though we’re admiring our tulips and flowering shrubs in April. Adventurous gardeners start earlier. Crazy ones start from seed in the winter months. We garden pretty much through September and some of October – with seasonal mums, tulip bulb planting, and last call for planting trees and shrubs. Depends on weather, obviously. We don’t get a significant snowfall until December usually. Seems like that isn’t happening as much anymore and we don’t get significant snow until January. The plants need the snow cover, and it doesn’t seem as though the past few years that that has even been consistent. November through March is spent thinking about April through October.”

Here’s Jim’s garden… which I must confess is one of my all time favourite small gardens, such wonderful attention to detail and a vignette worth photographing at every turn

So, sit back and take a short walk through some of the other beautiful gardens in the cottage district of Buffalo. Do these inspire you to make some changes in your garden?

even the dog has a cute garden house

check out this bottle tree

when in Buffalo…you need a garden buffalo

 

Love this

Don’t you just want to cozy up in here with a cup of tea and a book?

The power of being in the moment

 

Have you ever wondered why so many avid gardeners seem calm and smile often? Why they see beauty in a leaf or the petals on a flower, why a bug is of interest to them? Why they derive pleasure from small simple things.My Garden

I was visiting a client this week and she happened to say to me that since they had their new garden installed there was one piece of advice that I gave to her husband after I put the garden in that he really listened to. One, I thought to myself, I said so much at handover, what is the one piece of advice? Reticulation, Fertilising routine, growth habits, seasonal changes….. It took me a while for this “significant” moment to really sink in…what was it that had I said that this highly successful and very busy man had listened to?

Aha, then she said it..”hose in one hand tea or a beer in the other”

Tea Cup, Green, Tea Bag, Teabag, Outdoor

On completion of a new garden, I always say to my clients that each morning they should go out into their new garden with their morning brew in hand  and walk around the garden, sometimes I say to the guys, walk around with a beer or a wine in hand and the hose in the other when you get home from work. Ooh look!

Why do I give this advice?

The time that one takes to “water” your garden, and it need be no more than fifteen minutes is an opportunity for the new garden owner to take a moment out of their busy day and connect with nature.

It’s a twinkle in time when one can see what’s happening in the garden, see what creatures have decided to make it their home too and check out the birds that fly in and out of the garden space.

It’s an occasion to monitor what’s growing vigorously and what has come to a stop for a while. It’s an instant to make a mental note of jobs you might want to undertake on the weekend and prepare to deal with any pests and diseases.

Image result for watering the garden image

My view is that this time provides the homeowner a second to reflect upon their garden before they head off to work and  consider what their hard work has rewarded them and re-ignite that spark to get through the stressful day ahead.

It’s also three shakes of a lamb’s tail to just bend down and breathe in the heady fragrance of beautiful, healthy blooms.

take time to sniff a fragrant bloom

take the time to sniff a fragrant bloom

It’s a chance to see the changing seasons before they head out into the world for the day,  but most of all it’s a moment to zone out in a kind of spiritual, meditative sort of way. Yes, I know I’m placing great importance on this part of the day but I really believe in this piece of life advice I’m dishing out for free

.Tea, Tea Cup, Nature, Teapot, Outdoor

Consider the moment, watering pots and plants, perhaps pulling out a weed or two but at the same time just breathing and thinking about nothing except sipping that drink and the beauty of nature at work in the garden.

You are present, you are “in the moment” and that may not happen until tomorrow when you do it all again.

Reflecting upon leaf on a body of water

Reflecting upon a beautiful leaf on a body of water

 

It’s addictive that’s for sure…why not have a think about making this part of your daily routine too and if tea is not your thing, I can vouch for the fact that it works with coffee, wine, champagne or beer or even water if you must and far better for the soul than pounding away on a treadmill or taking a spin class with some uber fit, lycra clad, fake-tanned, protein fuelled bloke yelling at you to go harder, faster, stronger, in a smelly, sweaty gym, I say!

Image result for image of spin class instructor