This weekend marks the 25th year for Garden Walk Buffalo – an annual event that has blossomed from 29 gardens in 1995 to more than 430 this year.
It's the largest residential garden tour in North America, and an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 visitors are expected to visit from across the country, Canada and possibly beyond. This year, Garden Walk has expanded to include about 60 Park Meadow and Parkside gardens.
"Once again we have great gardens to showcase – beautiful gardens in our West Side, Parkside and Park Meadow neighborhoods. We also want to showcase the architecture, just to show what a beautiful city Buffalo is," said Yolanda Fields, Garden Walk Buffalo chair.
"We are so thankful to the gardeners for opening up their yard spaces to everyone," she said.
Heading out to Garden Walk Buffalo this weekend? Here are five things to know:
1. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27 and 28. The self-guided tour is free and held rain or shine. No tickets are required, but you’ll want a map.
2. Maps with garden descriptions are available at select garden centers and shops – handy if you want to plan ahead. Another option is to download an abridged map online at GardenWalkBuffalo.com. The abridged map does not include garden descriptions or gardeners' names.
3. During the days and hours of the tour, visitors can pick up maps at one of three main headquarters: Evergreen Health, 206 S. Elmwood Ave. (corner of Chippewa Street); Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway (near Soldiers Circle and Chapin Parkway), and St. Mark’s Church, 399 Woodward Ave. in the Parkside neighborhood.
The headquarter locations also have restrooms and merchandise – including the new book, “Buffalo-Style Gardens." Proceeds from the book sales will benefit Garden Walk. The book is co-authored by Bufffalo News garden columnist Sally Cunningham and Jim Charlier, longtime Garden Walk Buffalo participant and vice president of Gardens Buffalo Niagara, which produces Garden Walk.
Maps (but no restrooms or merchandise) can also be found at: First Presbyterian Church, One Symphony Circle; West Side Community Services, 161 Vermont St.; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, 125 Jewett Parkway, and the Buffalo History Museum/Japanese Gardens, corner of Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace.
4. Free hop on/hop off shuttle buses will run during the tour with four continuous routes. You'll find details here and on the map. Explore Buffalo docents are scheduled to be on board to point out significant architecture and historic sites.
5. New this year: In addition to viewing hundreds of residential gardens, visitors can check out the recently completed, historically restored landscaping at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House. (See a recent gallery of photos by Buffalo News staff photographer James P. McCoy.)
Also new: Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm will kick off Garden Walk Buffalo with a butterfly release at 10 a.m. July 27 on Bidwell Parkway at Elmwood Avenue.
A final tip from Yolanda Fields: "Keep your map from year to year so that you can see which gardens you visited. Who can visit more than 400 gardens in one weekend? So keep your map, mark off what you've seen and highlight the gardens you want to revisit the following year to see if there have been any changes."