Flowers do not disappoint


The ability to finally garden has been front page news here in Buffalo and the national news is taking notice of the (delayed) gardening season in articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal: "Cities Invite Tourists to Stop and Smell the Roses". 


It reports on the phenomenon that Garden Walk Buffalo represents in cities across the U.S. Inspired by Buffalo’s, Cleveland is now holding a city-wide garden walk that will include urban farms, vineyards, and orchards—the first one is June 24—and there are many established walks and festivals: lilacs in Rochester; azalea in Wilmington, NC; and lupines in Maine, among countless others.

Last year,  Connecticut geography professor Richard Benfield was in Buffalo researching his upcoming book Garden Tourism. The 16-year-old Buffalo event, which—starting last year—has now grown into a five-week festival including on-going open gardens, a front yard contest, and a speaker/seminar program, now draws 25% of its visitors from out of town. (Keep in mind that the first GWB had 20 gardens and was more like a block party than a tourist event.) Also, the GWB visitors attend an average of 3.39 garden events per year, leaving money behind at each.

The Journal interviewed GWB prez Jim Charlier as well as Benfield, and concluded with the statement I quote in this post title.

Garden Walk visitors will never see my viburnum during this, its finest season. By itself, it’s a fine example of plicatum tomentosum—which is all very well—but the way it embraces this sculpture makes it a real event. It does not disappoint.

Happy Memorial Day!

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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 regular 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. Beautiful Viburnum (and lovely sculpture) – so interesting to experience the diverse growing seasons. Our Viburnum blooms are long gone and berries are already making their presence known. Either way, it’s a glorious shrub to have in one’s landscape.

  2. Thanks for the shout out. I’ve just returned from the apex of garden tourism – the Chelsea Flower Show in London. There’s a lot to learn from the folks that know how to garden and how to promote gardening. If I can only get the national networks here to give us an hour a night, during prime time, for a week, like they do in England, then I’ll know I’ve done my job well.

  3. As an adopted Clevelander, I’m excitedly anticipating GardenWalk Cleveland! So excited to see a mention.

  4. What a marvelous vignette.

    And what a wonderful way to build community among gardeners and non-gardeners, alike. I think there is something about showing one’s garden that promotes a sense of neighborliness and goodwill.

  5. This idea should be ‘ranted’ into every hamlet !

    I’m sure it’s like successful local farmer’s markets. The government did a study of them and discovered success relied, typically, on a single person’s effort/idea.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  6. I love the idea of garden tourism. On a very small scale we have a ‘public garden’ The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. 81 years ago a group of women turned an abandoned trolley bridge into a thing of beauty for local residents, and in the past decade or two as a destination for tourists. 37,000 people signed the guest book last year April 1 – October 30. No plowing in the winter!

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