It Takes a Garden Walk


By Guest Blogger Elizabeth of Gardening While Intoxicated

In July I attempted to entice other garden bloggers into attending Garden Walk Buffalo, and failed miserably. Fine. I’m over it, and now I have a new challenge: why not start your own walk? Garden Walk Buffalo was started as much to show off city living to a suburban audience as it was to show off our gardening prowess (or lack thereof) and now it is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the local summer calendar.

We’re not talking about a guided tour for eighteen ladies from the local garden club (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Buffalo’s garden walk is free, advertised throughout Western New York and beyond, and is self-guided. Participating gardeners have the choice to open their back, side, and front yards—or any combination thereof—to the public for the last Saturday and Sunday in July between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. We started with twenty gardens in 1995 and now we have 260 plus. The gardens are not juried; anyone may participate, as long as their garden is within the roughly three-mile radius of the walk.

The event has received tons of newspaper, TV, and radio coverage, and we’ve found that housing values have routinely risen after a certain block or neighborhood joins the Walk.

It is truly a blast. My husband was leery at first, but after his first experience of sitting in our back yard basking in the interest and compliments, he looks forward to it as much as I do.

Clearly, most of the players in this particular corner of the blogosphere have some element of exhibitionism in their make-up. Many, I am sure, participate in garden tours. Starting a garden walk is a great way to get friendly with your neighbors and a wonderful reward for all your hard work. The time to begin organizing one for next summer would be—yeah, right around now.

P.S. Though the Walk is technically free, we get so much revenue in donations that we have started a funding program for community gardens and are publishing a book/DVD this fall.


  1. We have something similar in Charleston – I believe it’s held in April. I love the concept of a Garden Walk, and have been a few times here – but I’ve always felt it was a bit uptight, too rigid – and that we were walking through gardens tended by paid landscapers, not necessarily by gardeners. I’m sure this is not always the case – but something has always been missing from the experience.

  2. I LOVE this idea. When I go out of town, I always look for garden-related stuff to do. The cool nursery, great gardens, etc. But I have no interest in big fancy botanical gardens.

    What I want is for someone to tell me “Oh, if you’re in Portland, go have breakfast at this great little place and then walk through the neighborhood–you’ll see some of the best gardens in the city.” I want to look at how people really live in their gardens year-round! What a fabulous idea.

  3. This is a fantastic idea! How about a national’garden walk’ day? We need to get all the ball for this in Wash DC. Both MD and VA have organized garden weeks – but one day for DC gardens to open up would be heaven. Susan – let’s get to work :-).

  4. Okay, Kathy, let’s put on a show! And maybe to gather research we could have a gardenblogger Meet-up in Buffalo next year for their big weekend. Coz I agree with Amy – I’d rather see real gardens than estate gardens any day. Susan

  5. Garden walks like this can be great fundraisers, too. We have two in our area, a garden one that benefits the local woman’s shelter, and a pond garden one that benefits the local Humane Society. Everybody wins!

  6. I’ve been to the event in Charleston, SC as it is my all-time favorite city. However, it seems to be more of a historic tour of homes over the gardens and I agree with the previous poster, it is a bit stiff.

    Please, join us in Buffalo next year for our GardenWalk. Mine has been in it for seven years and, although it is a great deal of work to prepare for, it is all the better in reaping the rewards of meeting people on your own turf.

  7. Our Creek Haven Estate in a Barker Creek Preserve(7 acres) is on the market in Kitsap county, Washington State. There are marvelous opportunities for landscape designer types and garden lovers to create gardens on this acreage with slopes, streams, etc. going through it. It also has an acre labyrinth path that blooms with flowers in the spring. We don’t seem to be able to find the right buyer. Any suggestions.
    Mary bertrand

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