Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Talking the talk: Gordon and Arlan

With the Garden Walk committee, I’ve embarked on the task of producing a Garden Walk book/DVD combo in time for a holiday offering. We hope that preorders taken during this year’s walk will help pay for production costs. About thirty gardeners are being interviewed: the crème de la crème from the more than 200 gardeners on the walk.

We started the interviews this week, with two gardeners whose styles are quite different, but whose gardens are undoubtedly among the best GW has to offer.


Gordon has an all-singing, all-dancing chorus line of a backyard, albeit hidden on all sides by a high hedge. Once you’re in though, you’re met by a large pond on the right (shown above), a series of trellises with passionflower and clematis (among other climbers), potted tropicals, rows of hardy hibiscus, another pond in the back, lights, music, and a patio area for entertaining. Woven throughout are beds of unusual perennials, including Panamerican hostas, sea oats, acanthus, and (my favorite) Japanese anemone. Gordon now says that his only regret is that he didn’t start out with any clear design, but developed his garden, as most of us do, by discrete increments.


Arlan, a quieter person, has a quieter garden, but not without its spectacular elements. It’s all about the structures here. There are two vintage fountains, a wooden potting bench and wooden garden shed (shown above) both of which Arlan designed and built—anyone who sees these will never be able to look at any prefab catalog version without a shudder of disgust—and a side “moss garden” where Arlan and Dom have created a miniature rural landscape. Elegance best describes it all, with some—restrained—whimsy.

It’s good to start the project with gardens of this caliber. I know that there are more grandiose gardens in Buffalo, but I also know from experience that many of these are installed by landscaping companies rather than built literally from the ground up by homeowners who wanted their gardens to reflect their personalities.

As these two gardens certainly do.

1 comment:

Carol said...

I agree, I don't generally like home gardens done by landscapers. Everything in my garden I planted myself. Yes, I've made mistakes! I'm proud of each one. I am a plants person. When people ask me to suggest a design I turn 'em down. For me, it's all about the plants.