Buffalo vacation inspires CY garden walk
By Kim Halyak
This summer, my sister and I returned to Buffalo, NY, for the 20th annual Buffalo Garden Walk. The largest garden walk in the United States, Buffalo welcomed over 60,000 visitors that weekend. My sister and I happily managed to see 95 of the 440 gardens on tour. Buffalo’s success was the inspiration for creating our 1st Annual Cooper-Young Garden Walk last May.
Buffalo accentuates their gardens with beautiful architecture painted in bold color and striking, contrasting trims. It wasn’t unusual to see three or more vibrant colors used. Most of the front yards are smaller than our neighborhood yards, but the magic comes in the long back yards that take your breath away. Everyone puts their gardens to great use with multiple living spaces, outdoor kitchens, relaxing ponds, espalier trees, and cool sculpture.
Buffalo remind me of Cooper-Young with its funky vibe, vibrant shops, and restaurants. The tree-lined streets, much like ours, make for cool and relaxing walking. The gardens celebrate recycled materials, riotous plant combinations, grass-less front yard gardens and parking strips, themed gardens (Harry Potter, Asian, tropical), and imaginative art pieces. Many of the backyard gardens face three-story brick businesses, giving them the feel of secret gardens in the city.
I had the chance to talk to one of the garden walk committee heads for over an hour. She graciously answered all my questions about how they grew into such a successful event. The biggest impact the garden walk has had is the estimated $5 million it has brought to local businesses and the city of Buffalo. Additionally, the garden walk has increased property values, made the area more desirable to live in, reduced crime, and brought in visitors from all over the U.S. and beyond. It transformed blighted blocks into desirable streets and neighborhoods with gorgeous, color drenched gardens.
It is my hope that our Cooper-Young Garden Walk will become as well known as the Buffalo Garden Walk. With over 130+ gardens and green business spaces currently signed up for this year’s walk, Cooper-Young could easily become the Southeast’s newest, largest, and best garden walk. Let’s celebrate our funky, hip community and Southern gardens while being an inspiration to each other and all of Memphis.