Other endangered sanctuaries



The Bluestone catalog arrived yesterday, and for once I was able to leave it on the table without feeling in the least tempted to flip through, imagining what I might buy. In spite of—or maybe because of—the bulb frenzy that took place in the fall, I feel that the spring might be a time of minimal garden spending, especially when it comes to mail order.

In tough times, if I’m going to be spending discretionary dollars on gardening, it’s going to be spent closer to home. We have a lot of great nurseries in Western New York—I can think of 3 superb examples within a couple miles of my house—and I want to help keep them open.

I also worry about how growing financial hardship will effect our local parks and one of my favorite winter hangouts, the local Botanical Gardens. I have to admit I am more of a rare/exotic plant person than a native/wildflower person when it comes to botanical facilities. You’re more likely to find me admiring the prize-winning lady’s slippers at the orchid show (shown above) than hunting them down (probably unsuccessfully) in their native state at a wilderness. But it seem that this is the year to support all of these places, with my admission fees and possibly volunteer hours, as the government and foundations that fund them threaten to lessen or even sever already fragile bonds of sustenance.

While the standard interpretation of sustainability focuses on conservation of resources, I also think of sustainability as keeping alive a unique local culture, making sure that all the reasons I love living and gardening in Buffalo remain viable. So I might give up buying the mail order woodland orchids I heard about last spring (I think I was supposed to plant them in the fall anyway), in favor of visiting their cousins at the Gardens or even checking them out at a nearby conservancy.

This might be the season to keep expenses down, and consider myself lucky that New York State’s new governor isn’t imposing a tulip tax, as well as new ones on soda, beer, wine, fishing, furs, and jewelry.

Of course, the Plant Delights and Select Seeds catalogs have not arrived yet, but by then who knows if I’ll even have a choice!

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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 yahoo.com


  1. “I also think of sustainability as keeping alive a unique local culture, making sure that all the reasons I love living and gardening in Buffalo remain viable.”


    In addition to memberships at various organizations, I also try to use my blog to promote the local things that matter to me–the SF Botanical Garden, Pacific Horticulture, et cetera. I know most of my readers aren’t in a position to patronize my local institutions in any substantive way, but it’s the aggregate effect of all of us doing that in our own place that I want to participate in, and promote. Most of the garden blogs I frequent are doing that too.

  2. Very well put Elizabeth…our local botanical garden, Cheekwood, is on our support beyond membership list. It’s a small center, but I love it. They have something to inspire most gardeners. Like you, I want to support our local growers and nurseries. My favorite florist/nursery closed and I am bereft….they sold the very best fall planted bulbs!

  3. Well said, Elizabeth. The local places need us now more than ever. We have a few local family owned nurseries, very very small, that I would much rather spend the dollars at than mail order, even if the selection is not as good. I know them all by name and they know me, it is about more than money and having the latest greatest garden plant.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. The public horticulture institutions need our support. And so do our local (not Big Box) nurseries. Let’s all make an effort to help sustain these places through the hard times ahead.

  5. Bulbs are better from catalogs. Other kinds of plants, no so much. So I save my pennies for trips to Clear Brook Farm in Shaftsbury, Vermont: http://www.clearbrookfarm.com/. They sell beautiful produce, plus fantastic vegetable seedlings, plus interesting perennials at really good prices, plus the occasional woody plant. The people are infallibly nice. The setting is lovely. My friend Nancy Higby designed their gardens. They deserve every dollar they get from me.

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