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It does any gardener's heart good when somebody admires his or her garden. And when the garden is chosen from almost 500 as being the best of all, the heart can grow as big as a bouquet of roses.

That's what happened Saturday when Jennifer Owens' garden at 755 W. Delavan Ave. was selected as Buffalo in Bloom's best.

"It is such a great honor, and I am thrilled," the nearly speechless Ms. Owen said.

Equally thrilled was Karen Galluzzo, whose garden at her 16 Kent St. home won the Mayor's Award.

But shortly before the judges appeared at her home, the six hanging baskets that Mrs. Galluzzo used as focal point for her front garden were stolen.

"I was devastated," she remembered. "It happened just two days before the judging began, and I had to really scramble to make up new baskets, or I wasn't going to have a chance at winning anything, I thought."

Mrs. Galluzzo realized Saturday that her garden won when she walked into McKinley High School and saw a picture of her garden hanging on the wall.

"My husband and I were both shocked," she said.

The framed photograph will hang in Mayor Masiello's office in City Hall until the year 2000 Mayor's Award.

Mrs. Galluzzo and her husband -- who she says "does the heavy work, like bringing in dirt" -- each received a City of Buffalo watch from the mayor along with a $200 check from Bloom and a certificate citing her for "best exemplifying the spirit of Buffalo in Bloom."

The awards ceremony was held in the McKinley High School auditorium, with more than $5,000 in cash awards handed out, along with trophies and certificates.

All the gardens entered in the competition had to be visible from the street in keeping with the mission of Buffalo in Bloom to create a city that is beautiful to everyone who is walking or driving through the city.

Both top winners restored neglected gardens after moving into their homes seven years ago and both used a mix of annuals and perennials.

Ms. Owens, who won a Delaware District second prize, third prize and honorable mention in previous years, told of moving to Buffalo from Chicago.

"We moved into this wonderful Victorian home, so I immediately decided I was going to create an English/Monet garden from what was a disaster area," she said.

Mrs. Galluzzo also started out with a back yard that was a disaster.

"But I started working on it, and it grows every year," she said.

This was Mrs. Galluzzo's third year competing. She won a third prize in the Fillmore District her first year and an honorable mention last year.

Other winners included:

Residential districts -- listed by first place, $200; second place, $100; and third place, $50:

Delaware -- Patricia Klenk, 293 Linwood Ave.; Janine and Otis Glover, 226 Summit Ave.; and Carol and Frank Tomasello, 55 Lovering Ave.

Ellicott -- David Sokol, 61 Sweeney St.; Earl Bovanizer, 9 Rabin Terrace; and Michael Banks, 16 Rabin Terrace.

Fillmore -- Karen and Rick Galluzzo, 16 Kent St.; James Schoenle, 134 Tennessee St.; and Mary Pietrzak, 144 Millburn St.

Lovejoy -- Joe and Muslin Shakoor, 79 Academy Road; Kathie Beris, 87 Roberts Ave.; and Ollie Ruth Cheney, 265 Hazelwood Ave.

Masten -- Ernest Copeland, 79 Brunswick Blvd.; Sallye Sanders, 283 Chelsea Place; and Andrea Allen, 205 Northland Ave.

Niagara -- John Hochadel and Jeff Tooke, 2 Union Place; Patricia Banning, 332 Bird Ave.; and Arlan Peters and Dom DeFillipo, 20 Norwood Ave.

North -- Gloria Masters, 183 Crowley Ave.; Flo Kessler, 157 Groate St.; and Kenneth and Mary Ann Scheifla, 118 Chatham Ave.

South -- Sandy Whitt, 281 Abbott Road; Ginny Boniface, 31 Dundee St.; and Karen Gawlak, 25 Alsace Ave.

University -- Stephen Muscarella, 8 Winston Road; Michael Dunphy and Andrew Odell, 468 Hewitt Ave.; and Dorothy Amos, 323A Langfield Drive.


Institutions -- Harvest House, 1782 Seneca St.; New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 318 High St.; and St. Joseph's Cathedral, 50 Franklin St.

Community gardens -- Ashland-Bryant Block Club, Bryant Street and Ashland Avenue; Community Action Information Center, Wohlers and Northampton streets; and Trinidad Neighborhood Association, Gillette and Oak Grove avenues.

Public spaces -- Genesee Street and East Parade Circle, coordinated by Calvary Baptist Church Rites of Passage Ministry; Dorchester Road from Richmond Avenue to Baynes Street, coordinated by Jackie Hennas; and Colonial Circle by Ardmore Street Block Club and Burke's Green, coordinated by Tom Vossler.

Residential block -- Rabin Terrace between Huron and Chippewa streets; Summer Street between York Street and Richmond Avenue; and Johnson Street between Sycamore Street and Broadway.

For the retail/commercial competition, framed photographs of their gardens were given to the top three winners -- Designs, 23 North St.; Lucas Verity Corp., 672 Delaware Ave.; and Majewski Fashano & Co., One Niagara Square.

Calumet Arts Cafe, 56 W. Chippewa, won a trophy as the Best Bloomin' Bar/Restaurant.

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