It’s called four seasons.



Not “the snowblower society of Buffalo, NY,” which is the lead PR phrase for a book I was just sent for possible review. As I’ve mentioned before, I am the editor of Western New York’s city/regional magazine, and like most editors, I am sent all kinds of queries and pitches from people who want to be featured in our glossy pages.

I hear rather frequently from authors, who often assume (quite incorrectly) that they are among the very few people who live in/are from Buffalo and have published a book. Fine. I understand the enthusiasm of having finished a book and wanting to share it with the world. What I don’t understand is someone whose memories of Buffalo seem to be nearly exclusively centered around cold weather. There are a lot of these people. Where do they get this? What Buffalo did they grow up in?

I think my confusion must be because I’m a gardener and spend a lot of the spring, summer, and fall outside. I find this area a great climate for gardening, near large bodies of water, with comfortable temperatures from May through half of November. We do have intermittent snow (as many regions do, and some of them have way more), usually starting in late December and lasting into March. And it’s true that around mid-February I may find myself wishing I was in California, Florida, or Texas, if only for a week or two. But those regions have their weather issues too.

The author whose blurb is quoted above (I will not mention the name or book, as I’ve only skimmed it and don’t see anything that impresses me) now lives in Manhattan, where I guess they never have snow.

Although this sounds like a rant, it’s really not. It’s really a paean to the glories of gardening, which is at the same time so intrinsically connected to weather and so able to transcend it. By pulling us closer to the everyday caprices of weather, gardening helps us embrace it, good and bad.

I know that sounds sappy, but I have found it to be true.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. For those of us who live elsewhere, we only know Buffalo from the news when it gets buried in snow.

    People assume the same of Denver, where the winters are quite temperate. (The ski resorts are always gleeful when it snows during a televised Broncos game in early fall; their reservation lines light up.)

    Problem is, ordinary pleasant days never make the news, and I suppose that’s true of many books, too.

  2. Living in the SF Bay area, we have the opposite problem. Everyone assumes it’s warm (if not hot) all year round. Actually, while we don’t get snow in winter, it gets pretty chilly. And right now, trees change color and drop leaves (unless they’re evergreen). And we’re getting ready for the rains. We hope.

  3. I lived in Erie, PA for a time… The 70+ inches of snow is about the same *amount* of winter precipitation I’m used to. It’s also a solid twice as much *snow* as I’m used to.

    That said, I’ve now been through two winters with over 100 inches of snow. And neither one was anywhere near Buffalo. Or a Great Lake. And as someone used to much warmer and rainier winters, I find that much snow *really* depressing.

  4. Thanks to your blog, my impressions of Buffalo are much different than they once were. I hope that the Austin blogs have done that for Texas too. It’s not all tumbleweeds and cowboys out here, despite what some people think (and what some Texans like to mythologize and encourage).

  5. People’s perceptions of places are always odd – sometimes even from people that have been to the place in question.

    When you look at all the wonderful photos of Canadian gardens it makes you wonder if folks are just not paying attention.

    I live in the south and I always comment when people complain about winter weather up north with “but the summers are glorious”.

  6. As Eliz well knows, I left southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas (which have weather/climate issues of their own, as recent events remind us) for Buffalo specifically BECAUSE it has snow and four distinct seasons. I got tired of my homeland’s boring alternation of hot/humid and temperate/rainy.

    Twenty-six years on, there are still few annual sights more beautiful than the first real snowfall of the season, particularly when the white stuff glistens on the branches of trees and shrubs. Even the thirteenth and fourteenth ones have their appeal, sometimes.

    Gardening never meant that much to me in the south, and I find that’s the case with a lot of my friends who still live there. Many Southerners I know take the year-round growing season for granted–whereas up here, it really means something when a bulb you planted in October pokes up in April. There’s a logic to having a full range of seasons to work with, and a garden is the best way I’ve found to make sense of it.

  7. I have been enjoying the march of the seasons. In time I will get used to it. Mainly I need to get used to cool and cold. The lows in the fifties this week have had me wimpering. No, no, not yet. I’m not ready.

  8. I travel quite a bit and end up getting defensive when snow comments are made about Buffalo, as if we’re just south of the North Pole.

    We have winter – but few realize we’re SOUTH of Canada (okay and a bit east-ish, here in Buffalo – we get to see the sun set over Canada, across Lake Erie). I like reading the Canadian gardening mags because I know I can plant pretty much EVERYTHING they show.

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