Guest rant: When worlds collide


Over on the Infringement beat, I eventually lost count of all the references, eccentric and otherwise, to the “October Surprise” storm that devastated so many of Buffalo’s trees and transformed other vegetation last fall. It has been popping up in poetry readings, in theatrical monologues and one-act plays, and so on, on at least two occasions as a metaphor for the war in Iraq. And it figured in the one show last weekend that directly acknowledged the intersection of GW and Infringement—a trippy little number called “Garden Talk,” set in the private greenspace behind a newish art gallery called Sp@ce 224. (The “@” is annoying, but the venue is folksy and inviting, and its courtyard easily as nice as many on the Walk.) The performance, a loose but fairly accurate approximation of a typical GW back yard at the height of the walk (except with plastic flowers), featured lots of poetry on scrolls, conversations with lawn gnomes, a “money tree,” and, yes, an opening moment of silence for all the trees that gave their lives in the storm—or so I am told; I missed the actual M.o.S. because I was busy getting liquored up at the GW media event.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more works in the years ahead explicitly bridging the imaginary divide between the two festivals. (I just remembered: as part of a conceptual project of my own in the Fest, I distributed seeds with various instructions on things to do with them.) A contemporary art gallery in nearby Rochester launched an event several years ago inviting artists to make site-specific work for their own yards or other people’s, and that concept seems to be tailormade for a community like ours.

In the meantime, bring on the talking trolls and bowling/gazing balls; I welcome them, one and all.

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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. I’ve only got three bowling balls in my garden, including the one on the bent rebar that got hit by a car. In my garden. (Long story. Some other time.) Where does that put me on the eccentric > oddball > utter lunatic scale?

  2. And I was actually in Buffalo for Garden Walk weekend! But it was so hot and humid (says the woman from the land of hot & humid, Tennessee)! But all we wanted was to get back to the lake, after a yoga class and a quick tour of the co-op and the farmer’s market. Thanks for this chance to re-visit my vacation!

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