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Outside spaces: This backyard rocks

Linda Gellman’s garden in the Elmwood Village has been on Garden Walk Buffalo since 2010 – back when the garden was new and the plants small. But, like other properties on walks and tours, Gellman’s backyard today features much more than shrubs, herbs, trees and flowers.

It’s the entire environment she has created. Peaceful, comfortable and, as she describes it, spiritual.

Her outdoor space features two patios. A back deck. A labyrinth. A shed with adjoining potting area. A composter and rain barrel. And many, many rocks and heart-shaped stones.

What visitors will not find here? Plastic yard art.

“Things are from nature – rocks, driftwood, crystals,” said Gellman, a semi-retired professional photographer and founder of CLICK - Artistic Visual Creations.

As a homeowner committed to recycling and re-purposing items, Gellman explained that the gate leading to the backyard was crafted from scrap metal by David Derner, a local sculptor, artist and teacher.

Among the other highlights of this peaceful outdoor space:

The labyrinth

A path leads to the labyrinth's center. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Gellman said the idea for a backyard labyrinth came to her while she was sleeping.

“I was told in a dream I had to make a labyrinth,” she said.

So she did. This was back in 2010 - a year after she bought the home and began creating a backyard landscape where there was none.

“The backyard had nothing. It was a swamp,” she said.

The labyrinth is created with rocks arranged in a single circular path that leads to the center. According to the Labyrinth Society’s website, “labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation ... ”

“It’s a spiritual walk, an inner retrospective. You stand in the center and meditate. It’s a personal, spiritual journey,” Gellman said.

A pile of stones and other items is found in the center. Items include rocks (some painted), crystals, copper wire wrapped around a crystal point, a ring, a toy hippopotamus and a marble from Colorado. People presented these items to her as gifts from their travels to be placed in the labyrinth’s center.

“Friends who travel around the world bring offerings from sacred places and that energy is added to the resonance of the labyrinth,” she said.

The patios

The sunny patio near the house. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The deck off the back of the house leads to one of two patios; the one closest to the house has two tables with chairs and a freestanding umbrella that can be moved around the area. This area is ideal for morning coffee, she said.

Another patio, this one featuring the same pavers as the patio near the house, was installed at the back of the property near the shed.

A chandelier with 10 candles hangs between two trees from heavy-duty line. Outdoor cushions and pillows provide comfortable seating.

She purchased rocks from a landscaping company to form raised beds and a shade garden for a natural-looking landscape around this private area.

“It’s a place to light candles, serve wine to friends, chat and relax,” Gellman said.

The rocks (and stones)

From native plants to driftwood, Gellman loves natural elements. When it comes to rocks and stones, she can’t get enough of them.

She displays heart-shaped stones collected on beaches and elsewhere on steps on the side of deck. Her garden includes large beds of rocks and four concrete busts she brought back from a nursery in Maine. Each head represents one of the four seasons, she said.

Gellman finds stacking rocks and stones very meditative. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Gellman also has an interesting way of relaxing.

“I have fun stacking stones. It’s very meditative,” she said.

Her stone creations are very sculptural, which is a natural extension of the illuminated art sculptures she creates.

One of them is the 8-foot-tall, four-sided “Beacon of Life” sculpture on the labor and delivery floor at Oishei Children’s Hospital.

The sculpture is a photographic collage. The panel on one side represents earth. The other three – air, fire and water.

The earth panel includes her photographs of rocks and boulders, said Gellman, who collaborated with Bill Myers on the piece.

More rocks. And, of course, the path of the labyrinth is created with rocks set on a pea stone base.

“I’m a rock-aholic,” she said.

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