Here’s a book that raises all kinds of interesting questions. Like:
Can a city have its own style of gardening?
Assuming that it can, how does such a style arise?
What are its main characteristics?
Do the people living in this city know that there’s a gardening style just for them?
How did a city known mainly for blizzards and the invention of the chicken wing as a bar snack get so gardening-crazy?
I may not be the one to answer most of these questions. For one thing, my garden is one of many featured in the book (among dozens of others throughout Western New York). I may be too close to the whole enterprise, so consider this an announcement rather than a review.
That said, Buffalo’s way with gardens does seem to be a thing. Garden writers from out of town either love it or they compare it with the gardens generally featured in magazines and turn up their noses a bit. I remember one editor from a previous iteration of the now defunct Garden Design saying to me, “I can see that these gardens are … attractive, but they’re not the type of gardens we feature.” She then asked me if a Buffalo garden designed in 1903 by Bryant Fleming was still in good shape. I wasn’t sure. This was in 2006, and the Garden Walk Buffalo book had just come out; I was trying to convince her to come and check out Buffalo, but, clearly, she wasn’t having any. Times have changed since then. Buffalo has hosted a GWA conference, the percentage of out-of-town visitors to Garden Walk continues to grow, and, now, this book.
Buffalo’s gardening style has attracted the favorable attention of Pittsburgh-based St. Lynn’s Press, who commissioned Jim Charlier, a longtime volunteer for Garden Walk who’s famous for his Buffalo garden (the shed!), and Sally Cunningham, longtime garden writer, to write a book that defines Buffalo-style gardens once and for all. Unlike the Garden Walk book, which really focused on that event and the gardens on it, this title is organized by garden elements considered dominant in Western New York gardens and how similar effects might be achieved by other gardeners. There are chapters on paths, edging, furniture, décor, and other basic elements, but the examples and illustrations show how WNY gardeners have addressed such universal gardening issues. It is within these solutions that the definition of Buffalo-style might be found.
The book comes out in February, but those interested might want to preorder; I think it’s likely to sell out of its first run.