Friday: Garden Walk Buffalo - The Cottage District
You'll visit Ellie's alley, originally a (very narrow) driveway, it is now an immense planter. She added brick on top of the surface and made "planters" by creating raised-beds over the pavement. Narrow walkways of dapple shade can get you lost (mentally) in this minuscule magical forest.
There are three very special "secret" cottages tucked in behind other cottages & homes. The only access is by a passage in between other houses that face the street. You cannot see them from the street. One is owned by Bunny. Bunny, and her late husband, Harold, first saw this house when they attended Garden Walk years ago. One of the cottages was for sale. They were so impressed with the cottage, garden & tight-knit community, they bought the middle cottage.
And Kitty's little cottage (that's right, there's a Bunny and a Kitty on this street) is a gorgeous cottage practically color- coordinated to her garden. I rented this cottage for four years when I was first married. It never looked this good when I lived there.
One of the streets in Buffalo that has benefited greatly from the enthusiasm, encouragement, PR and traffic of Garden Walk Buffalo, is unquestionably Sixteenth Street.
To celebrate the fact, and to brighten up the street even more, they have installed these banners of past Garden Walk poster artworks.
Sixteenth Street, as little as ten years ago, was what you might call a "transitional" street -- older housing stock in need of repair; absentee landlords; aging owners that were unable, or lacked the initiative to take care of their front yards; nefarious renters; and shady-goings-on happening at the end of the street and on neighboring blocks. I feel safe in saying this -- I owned a home on Sixteenth Street from 1991-2001.
We made the couple that bought our Sixteenth Street house promise to be on the Garden Walk. They were not previously gardeners (and still claim not to be). But they not only have been on the Walk, they encouraged neighbors to get involved, and helped start a block club. Each year they, along with the block club (and a particularly generous avid gardener on the block) help to "redo" one front yard garden for an elderly neighbor. They've added street side planters, hanging baskets and the banners.
This is what I'm most proud about as president of Garden Walk Buffalo–helping foster neighborhood pride, increasing home values and increasing a sense of community in neighborhoods that might not otherwise have had something to band together for. And then showing it off to a regional (and now national) audience.
And, by my moving off Sixteenth Street, I think I helped make it a much better street.
Many of these Cottage District gardens have appeared in national gardening publications - Country Gardens, Great Backyards, Backyard Solutions, Garden Gate's Backyard Retreat, People Places Plants, and of course, the Garden Walk Buffalo book.