Aug. 16, 1972 — Nov. 18, 2018
As a child, Brian Przybyl worked in his family's home garden and tended his mother's house plants. His playtime became a lifelong passion and occupation for Mr. Przybyl, who owned and operated the Petals and Pines garden center in West Seneca for more than 20 years.
He was so well-known for his work locally that he was chosen to create all the floral arrangements for the dressing room and stage when Elton John brought his Farewell Tour to the KeyBank Center in September.
A fisherman, a lover of fine cigars and a highly regarded plant expert, Mr. Przybyl, of West Seneca, died in Erie County Medical Center on Nov. 18 after being diagnosed in early November with a brain tumor. He was 46.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Przybyl was a 1990 graduate of Kenmore West High School. He studied botany and plant biology from 1990 to 1992 at SUNY Buffalo State. He continued his education throughout his work life, earning certifications to use fertilizer and pesticides.
"He always had a love for plants," said his mother, Linda Przepasniak. "He did my gardens and would plant my flowers and vegetables. He had an interest, even growing up."
As a teenager, he cut lawns, then began his first business in the 1990s offering lawn care, landscaping and snow plowing. He then began working in landscape design, and in 1993 he opened Petals and Pines on Clinton Street in West Seneca.
"From Day 1, he had a magic touch," said Connie Przepasniak, wife of Mr. Przybyl's stepbrother Jeffrey. "Brian's plants were like his children. He took such loving care of every plant, planting all the seeds by hand."
Mr. Przybyl was so diligent in caring for his plants that he would often turn down invitations to take trips, Connie Przepasniak said. "He didn't trust anybody to take care of the plants like he did, and when people bought them he was proud of that," she said.
Gardeners flocked to Mr. Przybyl from all over the region for ideas and advice, and to buy the unusual plants he offered, Connie Przepasniak said. "In the summer he had all these orders from people who wanted him to do pots for their patios and decks. He was such a wealth of knowledge, and he rarely wrote down his designs."
In 1997, when he lived on Weimar Street in Kaisertown, Mr. Przybyl won a council district gardening competition. The next year, his gardens won a citywide Buffalo in Bloom award. Through the years, his work won a total of nine Buffalo in Bloom awards, including a citywide first place in 2003 for a large commercial/retail business, Graphic Controls on Exchange Street.
Mr. Przybyl began to work with a partner at Petals and Pines in 2013, and they changed the company's name to Gardenville Blooms. The business was sold again in 2017, and he remained on as manager. He was working there at the time he became ill.
His mother said Mr. Przybyl donated his landscaping services to various churches, mostly in Buffalo.
An avid fisherman, Mr. Przybyl specialized in freshwater fly fishing and enjoyed competing informally with fishing buddies.
He loved cigars and was known to drive around to different shops and visit out-of-the-way places to find just the right one for an occasion. He also loved to attend concerts, his family said.
Mr. Przybyl had a circle of very close friends, Connie Przepasniak said. "The people who were in his life were important to him. Everybody in his group of friends was somebody he really connected with, because of his wit and his charm and his knowledge — he had so much knowledge about things."
His friends enjoyed laughing together and playing practical jokes on each other. Friends said Mr. Przybyl was happy to either hang around informally or go out to clubs to show off his dance moves.
When visiting friends' homes, Mr. Przybyl was known to start "fixing" the plants, friends said.
A fan of the Bills and Sabres, he enjoyed playing floor hockey when he was younger and was convinced to start playing ice hockey when he was in his 20s. In 1997, playing on the Nowak's Tavern team, he won an award for being the most improved player.
Besides his mother, Mr. Przybyl is survived by his stepfather, Walter Przepasniak; two stepbrothers, Jeffrey and Justin Przepasniak; two stepsisters, Mary Jo Bishop and Amy Breski; a half-sister, Kate Grabowski; his companion, Sara Rogers; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.
A visitation and prayer service will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15 in Barron-Miller Funeral Home, 3025 William St. in Cheektowaga, followed by a memorial Mass in the spring.