High tea and Hosta happiness…

What a delight.

After a busy morning of garden oggling and riding to and fro on the bus while at Buffa10 in July, we got a wonderful break.

We were treated to high tea in bone china cups, home made scones with clotted cream and jam, and a delightful visit with gardener and author Mike Shadrack and Kathy Guest Shadrack at their home in the woods outside Buffalo.

Mike is co-author of The New Encyclopedia of Hostas, and several other books about hostas. He signed books for those of us who bought them and entertained us with some tales about his life and garden.

This garden was an oasis. Though it was a hot day, the setting there was serene and cool as we were surrounded by tall trees, green ferns and hostas. A sparkling creek trickled below the wooden deck and even flowed under the Frank Lloyd Wright-style house.

Like ladies of leisure (and gents), we sat in the dappled shade and enjoyed our tea and scones, feeling pampered and special on this lovely afternoon. Pam of Digging, Melissa of Houston Garden Girl and I had a great time chatting over tea.

The deck overlooking the creek far below was the perfect spot for relaxing and comparing notes from the gardens of the day.

One of Mike’s specialties is miniature hostas — they look so cool and inviting — I can’t help but wonder if I might not be able to grown them in Texas and just bring them inside in the heat of summer!
The views from all around the property were spectacular.
And more miniature hostas scattered all about. What a fun collection this is.
And the Alliums were staring at me everywhere I turned. You may remember I was smitten with them at last year’s Spring Fling in Chicago. After we returned, I tried for the second time to grow them in my garden, but they fried when the sun really came out. Even these spent blooms were calling me in the garden.
It was hard to know where to look – the beautiful tall canopy of lush trees or the little magical secret gardens that adorned the bases.
I posted many blooms from this garden, particularly day lilies, in my previous post about the flowers that struck me most in our adventures.
And yet more little vignettes of hostas to delight the eyes.
No stone left unturned in this garden – there were little green surprises everywhere.

I jokingly suggested to Jim, one of our Buffalo hosts, that we could spend the rest of the day and the evening under those glorious trees in the shade, and just order in pizza! He laughed, but I could see that he, too, liked the idea of spending more time in this glorious garden.

Favorite Flowers From Buffalo

Buffalo was an explosion of garden goodness – beautiful gardens just bursting with wall-to-wall flowers.

I was so in awe of the waves and waves of plants that each gardener turned into a collage of color.
But in many of the gardens, I was struck by one particular plant – one bloom, one leaf, one, singular item whose beauty, form or color just blew me away.
I’m really not going to try to name these, my favorites. But I do remember that this one above is a twist-leaf Dahlia — yes, a Dahlia. I was shocked, and spent some time with the gardener in Mary’s Garden, marvelling at this plant.
The dark and mysterious lilies drew me in the Shadrock garden.
And I couldn’t forget the amazing Hydrangeas we saw all over — made even more interesting to me because they are too elusive for us in Austin, Texas.

I’m all about the exotic forms, too, especially this pretty little thing at Lockwood’s Greenhouses Garden Center.
And this spicy number really caught my eye at the Erie Basin Marina University Test Gardens.
Loving Tropicals like I do, I was smitten with this orchid at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
Many of the gardens were dotted with colorful Crocosmia, another of my all-time favorites.
Love the purple foliage on this little orange piece of sunshine at the Urban Roots nursery.
And you’ve seen these before in a previous Buffa10 post, but they are so darn perky I had to give them a second time down the runway!

Zen and the art of umbrella handling

We enjoyed a few dry moments at Buffalo’s Delaware Park Japanese Gardens before the sky opened up again.

But I was intrigued by the rain’s mirror effect on the lake as we took in the beautiful sights.
Many of the private gardens we toured in Buffalo had an Asian theme, perhaps influenced by the lovely structures in this public garden.
There were many different vignettes throughout the garden, offering structure and contrast to the viewer.
And all the structures in the park were designed to flow seamlessly from nature, appearing to have been there for years.
Not to be outdone by the floral explosions in the home gardens of the city, the Japanese garden also had its share of beautiful blooms to complement the lush foliage and trees.
Garden bloggers strolled and took in all the sights – enjoying the serenity of the setting.

Then we all enjoyed a delicious lunch at the French Bistro Rue Franklin, including Marmee of Things I Love, Gail of Clay and Limestone and Frances of Fairegarden .

Such a fun-filled day, it will require two posts to get it all in…stay tuned for more!

Cottage gardens enchant and enthrall…

What’s my favorite style of garden?

I don’t have to think about it — beyond any shadow of a doubt, it’s the quintessential cottage garden.

There’s just something endearing about the layers and the textures and the colors and the magic marriage of a quaint cottage garden.

And the cottage gardens we toured last Friday morning in Buffalo didn’t disappoint.

While each garden shared the cottage style — they were all unique in their presentation and plants.

My favorite was one filled with bright, tropical plants and colors, mixed with more traditional cottage-style offerings.

I loved this Clematis meandering along the quaint white picket fence framing the front yard of this house.
These little individual succulent planters made from tree fungus lined a short fence leading into the back yard.
This beautiful seating area was surrounded by plants with rich, tropical colors and lots of vertical interest.
The front picket fence was chock-full of cottage goodness and offered a plant paradise for any birds who stopped by looking for a cool drink of water.
Because these cottage gardens were so intimate (read: small!), they were perfect backdrops for garden art on their walls and fences.
We enjoyed these gardens with a steady dose of rain, however, which stuck with us all day. Not to be deterred, we shielded our cameras and kept walking. The rain couldn’t stop Gail, of Clay and Limestone, from smiling as she strolled along.
There was always the next garden, drawing us along, mesmerizing us with its wonderful setting and amazing (albeit, wet) plants.
The sun peeked out occasionally, and let me capture this moment between fellow bloggers Kathy of Cold Climate Gardening, and Dee, of Red Dirt Ramblings.
The days rain left tell-tale signs and a little garden art of its own on the plants.
Though my favorite was the tropical cottage garden, I was also totally charmed by this shabby-chic garden, with its ecclectic mix of flowers and art.
And even more vertical fun in small spaces.
As with most of the houses, no fence or post or eave is left unadorned.
If I had included more individual plant shots my post would have taken a week to do! But these just begged to be shared with you!
And then there were the cottages themselves…so quaint and historic and adorable.
It was just all too cute. My only regret was that I couldn’t bring one of those lovely cottages back on the plane with me!

Buffalo gardens amaze & impress

As I traveled home from a delightful time in Buffalo for the garden bloggers’ Buffa10 gathering, I tried to think of the best way to describe the gardens I’d seen.

It wasn’t easy.

We had a whirlwind 4 days — seeing sights, touring gardens, meeting and making friends and smelling the roses.

Our hosts, Elizabeth Licata of Gardening While Intoxicated and Jim Charlier of Art of Gardening took us on a fairytale tour of their beautiful city and its gardens. They were perfect ambassadors who opened our eyes to not only the gardens of the city, but the art and the architecture and the city’s rich history.

A wide variety of gardens and gardeners welcomed us with open arms as we descended upon the city.

And while they ranged from jam-packed cottage gardens to simple, zen-like Asian gardens, they all had one thing in common.

They were lush.

Really lush.

There — that was it, that was the word that captured all the gardens we had the good fortune to see. According to Thesaurus.com, there are many ways to describe something lush.

Main Entry: lush
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: profuse and delightful
Synonyms: abundant, ambrosial, delectable, delicious, deluxe, dense, elaborate, extensive, extravagant, exuberant, flourishing, fresh, grand, green, heavenly, juicy, lavish, luscious, luxuriant, luxurious, opulent, ornate, overgrown, palatial, plush, prodigal, prolific, rank, rich, riotous, ripe, ritzy, scrumptious, sensuous, succulent, sumptuous, teeming, tender, verdant,

Oddly enough, the weather when my travel companion Pam, of Digging, and I arrived, was actually hotter than in Austin, Texas! Back home – 86, Buffalo – 91!
On our first afternoon, we enjoyed a walking tour of the Allentown Gardens, including a stop for happy hour at Elizabeth’s garden.
Then we were treated to a fabulous dinner and a tour of the 20th Century Club and its gardens. See that sun?!
Garden bloggers Leslie of Growing a Garden in Davis, Robin of Bumblebee Blog and Kathy of Cold Climate Gardening are probably discussing the uncharacteristically hot weather in Buffalo as we wait for dinner.
And now, more lushness.
The beauty was blurred, one stunning garden after another, as we stumbled along – not knowing which street we were on or whose garden it was, just struck by the amazing displays of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and garden art.
And then there was the amazing architecture, including some borrowed views of historic buildings like this one.
Each garden delivered a new perspective, a different plant list and a unique feel to our troupe of 70 visitors.

And I, for one, will carry these amazing memories with me for a long time. Buffalo is a beautiful, historic city, and one I would gladly visit again and again.

There is so much more to see — stay tuned for more posts about our amazing adventure. This just covered the first 6 hours!

The garden supervisor

I went out yesterday morning to capture a few shots of water (yes, really, in Austin in July) on the garden.

I didn’t realize until I was outside that I had some supervisory assistance!

Dakota sat and watched me until she couldn’t see me any more. I’m not sure if she was wishing she could come outside, or if she was just thinking in her little pea-brain, “What in the world is that alpha-dog-woman doing now?”

Don’t you sometimes wonder what they’re thinking? I was even wondering about the squirrel who stopped in his tracks on the way up the tree when he saw me watching him through the window.

It was lush and green and moist in the garden this weekend after our several inches of welcome rain last week.
The drops on the Caladiums look like puddles on an abstract painting.
And, like most things, the droplets were dwarfed by the huge blooms of the Moy Grande Hibiscus.

And the moisture helped me see this huge spider web that spanned about 5 feet — from a tall coneflower plant to a neighboring tree. Couldn’t see anymore when I got far enough away to get the whole thing in the shot, but clearly the spider had lured in some lunch.

The rains gave everything in the garden a huge boost — so welcome since I am leaving before the chickens are up on Thursday morning — heading to Buffalo for Buffa10, our annual garden bloggers meet-up. I’m so excited to visit with friends from across the country and meet new ones, while touring amazing gardens.

Will I see you there?