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I enjoy traveling around the country, exploring gardens. Throughout my travels, I am constantly amazed at the unexpected gardens that I stumble upon. Recently, I was in Buffalo, New York for the annual GWA Conference. I arrived a few days early in order to spend time with my BGF (Best Garden Friend), Andrea who came all the way from Australia to attend. We set out from our hotel in the morning to see more of the downtown area of the city.

It was a hot and humid day, but we were not deterred. We passed by a farmers market down the road from our hotel where fresh produce from area farms, was laid out to tempt passersby.  

I enjoy seeing fresh seasonal produce but lament that fact that other than fresh fruit, I am limited as to what I can use without a kitchen when I am traveling.

Most farmers markets also feature plants for sale and it’s a great way to see what grows in that area.

After leaving the farmers market with a bag of blueberries, we continued our walk toward the lake side where we encountered a lovely urban community garden. The Learning Garden is located underneath an overpass and adjoins a park.

The garden serves as an outdoor classroom for Erie Community College.

Three of the sides of the garden bounded by a fence, leaving an open gateway for visitors to explore the garden.

Raised beds were filled with a variety of vegetables and herbs along with a few ornamental flowers. Tomatoes are found in almost all of the beds and this garden clearly had an Italian theme with its basil and parsley.

Intermingled with many of the edible crops were whimsical garden signs like this one nestled within a bed of kale.

This sign expresses the joy of gardening for me and I believe for many others as well. As you can see, they aren’t difficult to make and I may enlist the woodworking skills of my husband to make some for my own garden.

Andrea and I took a moment to rest our sore feet while enjoying the scenery of the garden and the busy bees roaming from flower to flower.

The raised beds followed no distinct pattern that I could ascertain – but regardless, they looked great and were obviously thriving. Vegetables were the main focus with flowering annuals such as snapdragons and alyssum adding color.

I want this sign in my vegetable garden – do you think the neighborhood cats can read?

A small greenhouse is located behind massive cucumber vines. My cucumber vines have never looked that good…

I enjoy garden art made from repurposed materials, such as this ‘spoon-fork’ flower – a definite touch of whimsy.

What do you do when you run out of room in your raised beds? Plant vegetables in fabric containers, of course!

In a sunny corner, an unusual pair of wooden chairs sat, facing each other. What a great piece of furniture for those who enjoy good conversation, like we do!

We spent over an hour exploring the garden before leaving. It was a completely unexpected garden discovery and one that I will remember for a long time.

Once we left the garden, we decided to search for a place to eat lunch. Did we select a unique eatery or small cafe for lunch?

Nope.

I’ve heard great things about Tim Hortons and we don’t have them where I live and they aren’t in Australia, where Andrea lives either, so we decided to eat lunch there to see what all the buzz was about.

 Okay, this isn’t the healthiest lunch, but I did get my pretzel bun club sandwich without mayonnaise and it was delicious.

For dessert, we ate their famous cake batter-flavored donut holes – oh my, they were wonderful! It’s probably a good thing that we don’t have one nearby or my waistline would suffer greatly.

I hope you have enjoyed our Buffalo garden travels so far. You can click here to read about our adventures at the test garden filled with colorful annuals. Next up, a garden from the pages of Harry Potter!

 

**You can follow Andrea’s gardening adventures on her blog.

 

Have you ever met someone whom you felt an instant bond with?  If so, you know that it isn’t an everyday occurrence.

Last year, I attended the Garden Writer’s Association Conference for the first time.  I went to the conference not knowing anyone else there, but was excited for the classes, garden visits, and hopes to meet other people who loved and wrote about gardens like I did.

At this point, I should mention that going up to people and introducing myself isn’t easy for me to do, but another garden writer was also attending for the first time who had come all the way from Oz (also known as Australia 😉.  Well, I decided that I needed to go up and introduce myself to Andrea – after all, we had some things in common – she lived in a dry climate and Arizona landscapes made use of many plants native to Australia.  

Well, we formed an instant friendship and found out that we shared numerous similarities – including the fact that we both had recently turned 50, worked as garden consultants as well as garden writers.


Over the next few days, we shared storied about our work and memorable clients while strolling through gardens viewing plants that we both use, despite living on two different continents.  


We would also talk to each other about new plants to try all while sharing the trials and tribulations of gardening in a dry climate.

All too soon, the conference was over, and I headed home with a suitcase of free plants while Andrea flew back to Australia.

After that, we conversed back and forth while making plans to attend the next year’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  I thought that it would be a fun to invite Andrea to come and visit Arizona on her way to the conference.  So earlier this week, I found myself at the airport, anxiously waiting for her.  I couldn’t wait to show her my favorite garden spots around Phoenix.

At this point, I should mention that while most people spend time cleaning their house and getting it ready for a special guest, for those of us who are in the landscape business, also have to get our gardens ready for our gardener friends to visit as well.  As a result, my garden was neatly pruned, weeded, and cleaned in preparation for Andrea’s visit.  

The first day, there was no question that the Desert Botanical Garden would be our first destination.  We were blessed with a partly cloudy day with a light breeze to take the edge off of the heat.  Walking along winding paths with stunning examples of cacti, palo verde trees, flowering shrubs, and ground covers, I showed her the beauty of the desert landscape.


Of course, we had to get a picture in front of a saguaro cactus.

Craft Beer in a Jar
After the garden, it was off to get a taste of American food.  So, good BBQ with a jar of local craft beer was next.

Delicious BBQ

Evenings were spent at my house having dinner and allowing Andrea and my kids time to get to visit.


Andrea bought a lovely collection of gifts, not just for my younger kids, but also for my grandchildren.  Eric looks adorable in his Australia hat.

The next day, we visited the Heard Museum and explored the Native American history and artwork, eating delicious smoked hamburgers at a downtown restaurant that is frequented by locals.

Hamburger Works Restaurant

We enjoyed event-filled days and great food, but one of my favorite parts was watching her try her very first Rice Krispy treat.

Now, we are off to the second part of Andrea’s visit – attending the conference where we first met one year ago.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story of a gardener from Arizona and Oz.  We have plans to write a book together highlighting our experiences and lessons learned gardening in dry climates, 9,667 miles apart.

The next several days will be filled with garden visits, informative classes, a trade show and much more.  I’ll be sure to share the newest and latest garden products with you once I return home next week.

**Click here for Andrea’s blog.**