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Two Buffalo books feature the joys of city life

Two West Side traditions -- traipsing through people's yards for the annual Garden Walk, and leading out-of-towners to grand Oakland Place -- take center stage in new, artfully rendered soft-cover books published by Buffalo Heritage Limited.

"Garden Walk Buffalo: A Celebration of Urban Gardens," is a tour guide into dozens of gardens during the annual event held the last full weekend in July. It's knowingly written by Buffalo Spree editor Elizabeth Licata, and packed with gorgeous photographs by Don Zinteck and Photographics 2.

"The Garden Walk," which had more than 250 gardens in 2006, has helped neighborhoods bloom and inspired latent gardeners to roll up their sleeves since beginning with a modest 19 gardens in 1995. It's only fitting that the book contains a tip of the hat to pioneers Marvin Lunenfeld and Gail McCarthy.

The must-have book for Garden Walk fans also comes with a companion DVD by Cheryl Jackson and Brian Milbrind, which allows gardeners to talk about and show off their homegrown oasis.

"Oakland Place: Gracious Living in Buffalo" celebrates the architecture and the dwellers, house by house, along the distinctive one-block street that runs between Summer and Bryant streets, parallel to Elmwood Avenue.

The comprehensive study is written authoritatively by preservationist and historian Martin Wachaldo, with supporting photography by Chuck LaChiusa. It's packed with fascinating historical nuggets behind the doors of the Colonial Revival, Tudor, Queen Anne and Shingle homes. It's the same street where the Georgian Revival mansion at 57 Oakland Place was home for six decades to arts patron and business and civic leader Seymour Knox Jr.

Who knew that Darwin Martin, for instance, was dissuaded by Frank Lloyd Wright from building the Parkside house that bears his name at 110 Oakland Place instead? Or that the imposing brick structure at 88 Oakland Place was where underwear designer Miriam Gates perfected the padded brassiere?

Mark Sommer is a frequent News reporter on Buffalo landmarks and urban affairs.

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Garden Walk Buffalo: A Celebration of Urban Gardens

By Elizabeth Licata

Buffalo Heritage Press Limited

18 pages, $30, $40 with DVD.

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Oakland Place: Gracious Living in Buffalo

By Martin Wachaldo

Buffalo Heritage Press Limited

120 pages, $30.

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