As much as I love urban gardensâ€”their verticality, their elegant hardscaping and surrounding architectureâ€”I wonder what it would be like to have acres to play with. Or at least one acre. If I judged by the comments of the suburban gardeners who visit me during Garden Walk, I would assume all suburban gardens are filled with a few bushes and a whole lot of chewed off stubs, the ravaged remains left by hordes of ravenous deer and rabbits. Discouraging. Doesnâ€™t make you want to run out and start gardening in the burbs.
Fortunately, I know this dreary picture is far from true, largely through the bloggings of many of you. And just last weekend, I visited one of the most gloriously abundant suburban gardens I have ever seen. It was part of the Ken-Ton (Kenmore-Tonawanda) Garden Walk, just outside the Buffalo city limits.
Behind an unprepossessing little Cape Cod (above) lies a winding, meandering series of beds, ponds, trellises, arbors, sheds, even a little train. I was particularly impressed with how food gardens were blended with flower gardens, and nothing was behind wire fencing. I also loved the use of many, many old-fashioned annuals such as cleome, castor bean, lavatera, nicotiana, and amaranth.
The owners, the Blyths, have a small mail order seed company, Song ‘n’ Bird Gardens; thereâ€™s no website, but I think the stapled catalogs are distributed locally. They grow a variety of annuals from seed and sell them in fours and sixes for pick-up.
Who would have known that such a place was a few miles away? This definitely solves my seed-starting problems. I’ll be ordering plants from them, including castor bean. Mine (from seed) is now about 12 inches high, and none of my indoor-started seeds made it.
This garden would not be my garden. Itâ€™s a bit too rustic, and some of the annuals are not my favorites. But I am tempted by the idea of having something this extensive to wander through. No designers or landscapers here: just a plant-loving couple who are all too willing to share it with others.