Sally Jean’s two cents



When I sent a link to the two rants on Jean’s garden (trials and tribulations thereof), I got a great response (first word: “Wow!”) from our resident guru Sally Jean Cunningham, a horticulturalist and garden writer who also has a TV and radio show on gardening (Channel 4 at 8:15 and WWKB Saturdays at 10 am for you locals). She promptly scheduled a TV segment (this morning) live from Jean’s, in which she interviewed Jean and talked about her garden. I meant to get there and take a picture, but wasn’t able to, but I did get a shot from the TV. Lame, I know. We were busy last night getting through these, below (with some friends).


Sally’s segment was great; she (properly) didn’t stress the court stuff, but she did talk about Jean’s garden and the advantages of a “messy” country-style garden in the middle of an urban location. Then she took the topic to her radio show, and some callers told her they had similar complaints about their non-traditional gardens. We are very lucky to have Sally here; her newspaper column also does its best to get out of the traditional “garden tips” rut and educate on the impossibility of a low-maintenance garden, interesting and unusual plants, native species, why plants fail, and, of course, alternatives to lawns (among many other topics).

I don’t know what effect Sally’s advocacy will have for Jean (no news on the court date) but now Jean knows that not only her friends and neighbors (and many of you) but local professionals in the horticultural field are on her side. By the way, THANKS to all of you who have written to the mayor. If your emails are being returned, just send them to me, and I’ll print them out and deliver them. Indeed that’s what I’ve already done; I have no idea how his email is filtered.

And here’s another terrific response I got from a friend of mine, Dave, who runs a landscaping service. There’s lots more but this gives you the flavor:


Tell them to come and take a look at mine!!!!

DON’T GET ME STARTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pope root – sumac – thistle – etc… wild “out-of-control” Kerria and Rhodotypos, dogwood. 
MY GOSH, can you believe that we have a 10-12 foot+ forsythia that has never been manicured?… name it. All grown and nurtured on PURPOSE. Birds, bees, butterflies, etc… EVERYWHERE.

What a treat it was this season to share with the amazed kids on the street here all that is happening naturally under the scope on these plants – mainly the “UGLY” thistle that I was told that I should remove from my front miniscule landscape because it is a “WEED”! You know what we then did? We labeled all these “WEEDS” and misc plants for people to see the names of them!

Dave has also offered to install a sidewalk for Jean for nothing.

One last thing. I have noticed among some of the comments on this and the Utah lawn issue statements like “Oh, I’m glad I live in x and not there,” etc. Well, I don’t know if that’s the message. There is no utopia for gardening or for anything else. Wherever we live, there are problems—just different ones.

Previous articleOrganic Lawn Care in the News
Next articleHorticultural returns of the season
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 happened to get a VisionTV DVD called ‘Recreating Eden: Season 1’ from my local public library. It features 13 gorgeous gardens and equally interesting gardeners and includes under the title ‘Garden of Controversy’ the story of a native plant garden designed and planted by an Ontario gardener in memory of his mother. Needless to say in a street of scrappy lawns, miserable evergreen foundation shrubs and “conventional” gardeners (for that read people who had no interest in growing anything nor had any eye for beauty)there ensued a court case against this beautiful garden… with a happy outcome.
    Worth seeing if you can get hold of the DVD.

  2. Wow – talk about the power of collective protest. I sent my protest to your mayor, and got the following email today:

    “Per numerous email requests to me for assistance, I have had the matter with Ms. Jean Dickson’s garden investigated. After several citizen complaints about the condition of the garden, a building inspector came out to inspect. He determined that paths had to be created around some of the plantings. Initially, the inspector was told that the property owner was not going to comply. However, after subsequent inspection I am told the property is now in compliance and that the issue has been dropped.

    Please see the email below from Economic Development Commissioner Richard Tobe.

    Thanks for bringing this matter to my attention.
    Byron Brown
    Mayor of Buffalo”

    I love democracy in action. GardenRant Rocks.

Comments are closed.