Garden Writers Association plants roots in WNY for national conference

Aug 7, 2017

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens saw busloads of visitors Sunday, quick with cameras on plants inside and out. The visitors were the experts from the Garden Writers Association, holding its annual conference here.

Not only were they touring the botanical gardens with its major renovations, they were inside a Frederick Law Olmsted creation, South Park. Association President Kirk Brown tours the country as an expert on gardening, including acting as Olmsted to talk about his work in creating American land use design. Brown said it was a fascinating tour of local gardening.

"It goes back to the very institutionalization of urban green, with the Olmsted parks system which started here in the city and extended now through these later years with Buffalo Gardenwalks," Brown said. "We have had an absolutely astonishing 150 year view of ornamental horticulture in America."

Holland, MI writer Susan Martin was near the front entrance paying special attention to one particular plant.

"There's this new native honeysuckle right here," Martin said. "This has the little orange tips of the foliage and the yellow flowers. That's one of our native honeysuckles. It's called Kodiak Orange Diervilla and it doesn't take over the landscape and re-seed everywhere and it's one of the best plants for bees, for feeding the bees."

Botanical Gardens President and CEO David Swarts said the visit shows the institution's increasingly high profile in the nation's network of gardens and the result of the millions of dollars put into the installation by Erie County and by donors.

"The group that's put this together from Buffalo has done an outstanding job," Swarts said. "Of course, it follows on the heel of Gardenwalk or while Gardenwalk is going on. We had the American Professional Garden Association here for an event in July and, certainly, we're getting notice and when national writers come here, it's a phenomenal experience for Buffalo and for the Botanical Gardens. We're very excited."