Baltimore Sun

Buffalo Garden Walk: a neighborhood make-over

It was raining.

And that was good news.


As part of Buffalo's Garden Walk, landscapers had remarkably and unselfishly volunteered their time and material to help transform a neighborhood.

When we visiting garden bloggers arrived, rain was blessing the hard work they had just completed.


North Parade Avenue in Buffalo was once grand, facing as it did a landscaped parkway designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

But like so many urban neighborhoods, it is in decline and nowhere was that more evident than in the neglected front lawns and the huge and unsightly shrubs that nearly hid the houses.

When one of the homes underwent a garden makeover, the members of the National Buffalo Garden Festival decided to take the idea and run with it as part of Buffalo's Garden Walk.

They encouraged 13 area landscape companies to take on each of 19 homes on the block and redo the front yard. It became the first annual Front Yard Garden Competition.

The designers spent their own money - from $5,000 to $12,000 per house -- and completed the transformations in just three days. They were literally putting the last of the sod down when the garden bloggers arrived to see the results.

"I watched them tear out the old, and I could hardly wait until the new came. I came home one day and said 'Oh my goodness, what are they going to do with that mess,'" said Shirley Tillmon

But by the end of the week, Tillmon Phillips, a 25-year veteran of the block, was looking out at a new walkway, flowers, plants and freshly laid sod.

"The final result is just beautiful. It went from a cocoon to a beautiful butterfly and I'm very happy with it," she said.


The homeowners committed to becoming "gardeners" and volunteers are going to be teaching them the basics of maintaining their new - and beautiful- yards.

Meanwhile, Buffalo residents - and you - can vote for the best make-over, which will no doubt please the generous landscapers.

"You're not going to spend thousands of dollars because you want this plaque," said Ed Dore, owner of Dore Landscaping.

Dore's company worked on six of the 19 houses, picking up the remaining houses that hadn't been selected by other companies.

"These are all people that use horticulture as a way to interact with the community and help it out," he said.

Baltimore? Are you listening?