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A garden that was described as "just breathtaking with its soft pastel colors" earned its creator and caretaker a $500 check Saturday when Buffalo in Bloom held its seventh award ceremony recognizing the city's outstanding gardens.

James Schoenle, of 134 Tennessee St., accepted the check for his front-yard garden that featured petunias, cosmos and cleome in shades of mauve, pink and peach.

Sally Cunningham, who led the panel of 250 volunteer judges through three rounds of judging, said, "Mr. Schoenle's garden truly stood out because we are usually dazzled by strong and bright colors in the Bloom gardens, whereas his was such soft colors and so arranged they even softened the iron fence he had around his property."

All the competing gardens had to be visible to people walking or driving by.

This year, the competition added two new categories, Rookie of the Year (first-time entrant), won by Estella Caro-Saltares of 19 Union St., and Best Whimsical Garden, Ray Anderson of 340 Elmwood Ave., who lined his walks with 8-foot-tall sunflowers.

Each received a Buffalo in Bloom poster.

Prizes totaling more than $5,000 were handed out during ceremonies Saturday in the McKinley High School auditorium.

"We had a few more entries than last year -- 417," said Kate Bukowski, general chairwoman.

The Mayor's Awards -- given for encouraging and helping neighbors to garden -- were presented to Marie Moore, of Hayden Street, and David Worthy, of Durham Avenue.

Other winners, organized by residential districts and listed by first place, $200; second place, $100; third place, $50; and honorable mention, certificate:

Delaware: Jennifer F. Guercio, 755 W. Delavan Ave.; Carol and Frank Tomasello, 55 Lovering; Patricia M. Lang, 145 Crescent Ave.; and Jim Locke and Annabelle Irey, 75 Lancaster Ave.; and Janine, Otis and Heavyn Glover, 226 Summit Ave.

Ellicott: David Sokol, 61 Sweeney St.; Sally Petrie, 25 Rabin Terrace and John and Bridget Martin, 266 Pine St. (tie); and Helen E. Moss, 42 Peckham St. and Emma Callahan, 42 Johnson St.

Fillmore: Martha A. Heidinger, 186 Mackinaw St.; Mary C. Pietrzak, 144 Milburn St.; and Michele and Frank Dortch, 199 Howard St.

Lovejoy: Donna Kochersberger, 1020 Lovejoy St.; Kathy Beris, 87 Roberts Ave.; Laura and Kenneth Rucinski, 115 Dempster St.; and Ollie Ruth Cheney, 265 Hazelwood Ave.

Masten: Albert Johnson, 94 Colorado Ave.; James Williams Jr., 19 Brunswick Blvd.; David L. Worthy, 110 Durham Ave.; and Sally Sanders, 283 Chelsea Place and Ruby Williams, 866 1/2 Northampton St.

Niagara: John Hochadel and Jeff Tooke, 2 Union Place; Tom Ripley, 44 Irving Place; Lynn P. Morrison, 64 Norwood Ave.; and Alan Peters and Dom DeFillippo, 20 Norwood Ave.

North: Carolyn Erick, 284 Esser Ave.; Karen Woody, 100 Amherst St.; and Joyce and Ron Barrett, 197 Hertel Ave.

South: Heidi Welsby, 570 McKinley Parkway; Karen Gawlak, 25 Alsace Ave.; Sandy Whitt, 281 Abbott Road; and Kathy J. Farmer, 44 Alsace Ave.

University: Kevin Helfer, 71 Radcliffe Road; Andrew Odell and Michael Dunphy, 486 Hewitt Ave.; Toni Trippi, 8 Winston Road; and Dr. and Mrs. Gregory Hudecki, 108 University Ave.

In the nonresidential categories, retail commercial large and small first-place winners received a plaque and others received certificates. Winners were:

Retail/Commercial -- large, Wegmans, 601 Amherst St.; Merchants Insurance Group, 85 Pearl St., Blue Cross/Blue Shield, 1901 Main St. and The Pillars Hotel, 125 High St.; small, C.J. Baker Wholesale Florist, 300 Genesee St.; Ingersoll Painting and Construction, 1890 Niagara St.; Designs, 23 North St.; Benjamans Gallery, 419 Elmwood Ave.; and Buszka Funeral Home, 2005 Clinton St.

First- and second-place prizes of $200 and $100 were awarded in the following categories:

Institutions: BMHA Maintenance Shop Garden, 30 Tower; Patty Colby Garden at Buffalo General Hospital; Stuyvesant Apartments, 245 Elmwood Ave.; and New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 218 High St.; Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, 18 Greenwood Place; and The Westbook Apartments, 675 Delaware Ave.

Community Gardens: Heart of Hartwell Road Block Club, corner Delaware and Hartwell Road; and Fargo Estate Block Club, corner of Jersey and West avenues.

Public Spaces: Delaware Park Casino flower beds; Minnesota Avenue Block Club, island on Minnesota -- Cordova to Parkridge; median on Minnesota at Bailey; Colonial Circle and Elmwood at Bidwell Parkway and Potomac Avenue.

Residential Block: Rabin Terrace, 1010-1024 Lovejoy St.; and 300 block of High Street.

Best Bloomin' Bar/Restaurant: Faso's Restaurant, 2126 Niagara St.

Buffalo in Bloom posters were presented to Patricia Lang of 145 Crescent Ave., Faso's Restaurant and Annunciation Church for their Pan-American centennial themes in their gardens.

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