When she’s not gardening


This is Ellie.
This is Ellie.

As I was driving into work today, I listened to an account of a small solidarity protest held in front of the company that operates our local water system. Apparently, this company, Veolia, was reneging on agreements they had with their transportation workers in Boston. I was bemused that our tap water was controlled by a French company, but didn’t think much more about it until I heard a familiar voice explaining the Boston grievances. It is the same voice I have heard explaining how you can maintain an entire garden, including small trees, in containers.

And this.
And this.

“We’re not just people who pay water bills, like everyone else. We’re also union activists and people who care about whether or not labor has some dignity [and] whether we can make a contract and have both sides stick to it,” said one of the protesters, who happens to be Ellie Dorritie. Dorritie is the owner of one of Garden Walk Buffalo’s signature gardens, a lovely cottage garden that includes a tall curbside border bursting with color and a back part-shade space filled with flowering shrubs.

Visitors to Dorritie’s charming space may not realize that even her garden required a bit of a fight. She was an urban pioneer in her neighborhood, which wasn’t always the well-kept enclave it is today. And she had to battle to keep her curbside planting, which was one of the first of its kind on city property.

I salute her determination and her willingness to put herself out there to support her beliefs—whether I might agree with them or not. I like people who fight for things they care about.

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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 yahoo.com


  1. I do not like the privitization of water and sewer. Keep it in the hands of local governments. Or at least local companies.

  2. Usually most people who garden and are environmentally conscious are conscious of more than just the environment- they find everything around them important, not just the land.

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