Now that spring has finally sprung in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, gardens throughout local neighborhoods have come to life, full of beautiful colors and flowers in bloom.
The region’s gorgeous gardens make going on a stroll much more enjoyable. But you don’t have to seek them out on your own — there are a series of organized garden walks that make it easy for residents to view these breathtaking displays of plantlife.
The Buffalo-Niagara area has 18 garden walks and tours throughout the summer showcasing nearly 1,000 gardens, no small feat for a city its size. This means that nearly every summer weekend features at least one garden walk to attend. Best of all, the majority of them are free.
We’ve put together an overview of the best garden walks to attend this summer. Garden season doesn’t last forever here in Buffalo, so be sure to check them out while you have the chance.
The first tour of the garden walk season is free to attend and takes place around the village of Lewiston in Niagara County, featuring both private and public gardens available for viewing. There will be booths along Historic Center Street, featuring vendors from area nurseries, landscapers and outdoor suppliers, as well as demonstrations by garden professionals. Garden lovers will have the opportunity to have soil samples analyzed and ask questions to Master Gardeners and area floral society experts. There will be an opening ceremony at on June 16 at 10am at Hennepin Park, during which David O’Donnell from Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm will release butterflies to kick off the festival.
If you’re interested in gardening, architecture or history, the Parkside Garden & Architecture Tour is the tour for you. This popular tour features more than 50 gardens within the Parkside neighborhood in North Buffalo, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The tour is self guided, but guided walking tours from Explore Buffalo highlighting Parkside’s unique architecture, history and folklore are also available for $15/person. In addition to the gardens, visitors will have free admission to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House conservatory and gardens. There will also be garden-related talks and special activities throughout the day by Master Gardeners and the Darwin Martin House.
Now in its 15th year, the Lockport in Bloom Garden Walk is a free, self-guided, walking and driving tour featuring more than 40 historic homes and gardens throughout the City of Lockport. This tour includes more than 35 gardens of various sizes and types. City Parks are also included in the tour, featuring beautifully maintained flowerbeds and trees. There will also be a special Twilight Tour on Saturday night showcasing illuminated gardens around the city.
The City of Tonawanda Garden Walk includes over 30 gardens around the city of Tonawanda, featuring water gardens, rock gardens, koi ponds and stunning meditation gardens. The tour is free and self guided. In addition to the daytime walks, on Friday night, July 13, there will be a “Friday Night Lights” walk to kick off the festival, featuring spectacular light displays illuminating the various gardens.
Ken-Ton Garden Tour Date & Time: Night Lights: July 20 & 21, 2018, 8:30pm-11pm Day Tour: July 21 & 22, 2018, 10am-4pm
According to its website, the Ken-Ton Garden Tour is one of the most anticipated events of the summer in the Kenmore-Tonawanda community. The free, self-guided tour brings visitors around the charming communities of Kenmore and Tonawanda, featuring over 50 gardens that range from tiny enclaves to expansive landscapes. Besides the daytime tours, both Friday and Saturday nights feature “Night Lights” tours to allow visitors to view flowers and plants at night illuminated by impressive lighting displays.
The most famous garden walk in Buffalo is also America’s largest garden tour, according to its website. The tour is now in its 24th year and is expected to have more than 65,000 guests from the U.S., Canada and beyond. As in prior years, there will be more than 400 urban gardens on display, located everywhere from Canalside to the Scajaquada River and from the Niagara River to Main Street.
Communities within the city that are part of Garden Walk Buffalo include:
Symphony Circle & Kleinhans
The Cottage District
Historic West Village
Fargo Estate Neighborhood
Columbus Park/Prospect Hill
The tour is completely free and self-guided, and free hop-on/hop-off buses will be available to shuttle guests to all of the different neighborhoods. Look for Garden Walk signs to find the houses around the city that are participating in the walk.
The last official garden walk of the season begins at St. Mark’s/All Saints Church, located at 311 Ontario St., Buffalo. According to Buffalo Rising, the Northwest Buffalo neighborhoods have some of the most interesting and beautiful gardens in the region. Self-guided walking tours of local gardens will be available, with guided bus tours showcasing the area’s history and featured gardens available for a fee on Saturday from 9am-1am. and 1pm-3pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, guests will also have the opportunity to participate in the popular “starry night” self-guided tours around the neighborhood. Saturday’s activities will also include a Plant Sale and Garden Art Market from 11am-5pm, with all proceeds going toward maintaining the neighborhood’s four community gardens.