A Bible Gardener Visits Buffalo, NY

Bible gardener visits Buffalo, NY

I’m not sure there could be a bigger garden welcome than the one awaiting visitors to Buffalo, NY, in late July! The energetic citizens of one of America’s greatest northern cities have endured much—from difficult winters to economic decline, yet they have fought back in glorious gardens, restoring community, tourism, triumph, prosperity, and joy to the city. Pleasing, color-filled neighborhood strolls and long walks in city parks are yours to enjoy, dear gardener, in this historical haven.

I was summoned to this cheerful city by my garden writing organization, wondering…will I find Bible plants in Buffalo???

colorful garden bed in home garden Buffalo, NY

A Garden Walk Buffalo neighborhood garden pours out bold color to welcome all.
“Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love Each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift.
Ecclesiastes 9:7-8 The Message

Garden Walk Buffalo Beckons GWA

GWA: The Association of Garden Communicators gathers members annually to congregate and collaborate—enjoy previous years’ sights by “clicking” these locations: Atlanta, Pasadena, Pittsburgh, and cities previous to beginning my website included Quebec, Tucson, and Dallas. Permit me to repeat my mantra,

If you have a trade association, join it! Enjoy fellowship on common ground with your colleagues.
If you want to associate with fellow gardeners, join ours! Social media makes us all broadcast journalists to some degree, and the hope and goodness in gardening is a story we each have a part in stewarding well.
—Shelley S. Cramm, “Where Can I Find Bible Plants in Pittsburgh?” www.gardeninDelight.com, August 14, 2014

The great citizens of Buffalo, organized by leaders from Visit Buffalo Niagara and Garden Walk Buffalo, worked diligently to draw our association to their land, knowing the friendliness, history, and garden frenzy would delight us! They were right.

Is this something special about Buffalo, or about gardening, or both? Indeed the Buffalo region is often described as having usually friendly people and a strong culture of hospitality — especially demonstrated by every end-of-July weekend when 400 gardens open their private back yards to thousands of strangers. But we’re not the only friendly place. Maybe what is special is our subject matter or medium: gardening.
—Sally Cunningham, Garden Tours Director, AAA Garden Discovery Tours

A Garden Story Classic on 16th Street

Among many garden-loving volunteers, resident Cindy Loomis was on-hand to greet us and accompany us all weekend, her personal garden story bursting from her heart, too good to contain. She has witnessed the rebirth of her neighborhood, compelled to share the redemption scene.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story
Psalm 107:2 NIV

the garden that changed everything CPWhen she and her husband purchased this old home, the backyard bloomed in abundance. It had been tended and cultivated proudly by the previous owner. However, the street remained a sketchy place, darkened by the shadow of misdemeanor and criminal antics.

Captivated by a whim of renewal, the Loomis’ removed the towering, unapproachable tree and stiff hedge that had a stranglehold on their front yard. In place of fortress-like landscaping, they planted flowers and colorful, small-scaled shrubs.

Suddenly, the open, airy garden whispered grace and greeting to those around them. and then there were two gardens on 16th Street, BuffaloAnd then there were two gardens, their elderly neighbor amenable to their help in nuturing her yard, too.

love your neighbor as well as you do yourself
Luke 10:27 The Message

Soon others joined them, and now 16th Street is a crisscross of garden delight, with five gardens up and down the street participating in Garden Walk Buffalo this year, echoing the theme of Isaiah’s garden story classic:

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
Isaiah 51:3 NIV

The neighborhood is now a joyful place, and a sense of community is cultivated alongside the gardens.

Bible Plants in Buffalo?

But are there Bible plants in Buffalo? What could these well-watered, Zone 6 gardens possibly share with the Holy Lands and the sun-scorched, rainless-summer cultivating conditions found there? Granted, many of the species from Scripture found in Buffalo are grown as annuals or in sheltered conservatories. Nevertheless, enjoy a handful of snapshots below from our full-storied weekend, and believe that wherever there are gardens, there are allusions to God’s Word.

Bible plants in Buffalo - papyrus in a home garden

A pot of papyrus punctuates home garden entry in Buffalo

papyrus detail planted in a Buffalo home garden

Papyrus detail from another home garden, a soft, airy complement to leafy foliage

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.
Exodus 2:3 NIV

Bible plants in Buffalo - castor bean plant in a home garden

From another residential garden, castor bean plant, with reddish-tinted foliage, perhaps the quickly growing “leafy plant” that sheltered Jonah

Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant.
Jonah 4:6 NIV

rose of Sharon flower buds in Buffalo CP

Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is NOT native to the Mediterranean, nor is this the species referenced in Song of Songs 2:1. However, I have long wondered how these flowering shrubs got their name…and this trip revealed a possible clue: Note how rose-like the flower buds appear.

She:  I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
He:  Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.
Song of Songs 2:1-2 NIV

I was mesmerized by these beautiful bushes all over Buffalo!

rose of Sharon small tree in Buffalo

rose of Sharon hedge

Rose of Sharon planted as a whole border hedge. Truly a “love your neighbor” moment!

A play on words, this rose of Sharon adorns the Delaware Park Rose Garden. The shrubs are growing up to small trees, and continue to flower even when the namesake, true roses of the garden have passed their peak blooming time.

 

rose of Sharon in Buffalo rose garden

Bible plants in Buffalo - wild chicory flower

Wild chicory weed, a probable species of “Bitter Herbs” from the Passover celebration

We enjoyed the afternoon at Delaware Park – originally designed for the city by Frederich Law Olmstead – and all I brought home was this snapshot of wild chicory weed, O dear! I suppose it is a gardener’s inclination to be drawn to the weeds, but at tleast these are lovely links to God’s Word.

They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Numbers 9:11 NIV

 

Bible Plants in Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens was another great stop on our visit, a beautiful Victorian conservatory from 1900.

Buffalo and Erie Co Botanical Gardens

Naturally, this sheltering, climate-controlled structure is hospitable to many species from God’s Word. Potted fig, pomegranate, bay laurel, and carob trees are all on display throughout the conservatories.

potted carob Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Potted carob tree, Ceratonia silqua, among many warm weather plant species sheltered in the gorgeous, old conservatory.

 He longed to fill his stomach with the [carob] pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:16-20 NIV

 A Huge Thank You!

Thank you to the many gardeners who practiced hospitality, and the many more citizens who treated us well and gave their best effort to our good understanding of the genius of this place. I am one gardener who went home refreshed, educated, inspired, and grateful, ready to pass on the goodness lived here, and certainly my fellow GWA members agree.

Well, the message hasn’t changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now: “‘Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other.”
Zechariah 7:8 The Message

Shalom stepping stone in a Buffalo garden

Photo Credits: ©2017 Shelley S. Cramm

A small stepping stone speaks Peace tucked along a path in a private garden on Garden Walk Buffalo

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2 Responses to A Bible Gardener Visits Buffalo, NY

  1. M October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    What a lovely website!

  2. Connie Oswald Stofko November 21, 2017 at 6:20 am #

    Shelley, I am just catching up on all the garden writers who visited Buffalo this summer. What a lovely article!

    Buffalo has the largest garden walk in the nation, Garden Walk Buffalo, but there are about 15 other wonderful garden walks held from June to August in our area.

    You might be interested in a garden I covered a few years ago in Niagara Falls. That gardener chooses plants whose names have some tie to the Bible. There is a white phlox by the name of David, a burning bush, Solomon’s seal and Jacob’s ladder, to name a few. You can see it here: https://buffalo-niagaragardening.com/2010/07/12/niagara-falls-garden-uses-biblical-theme/

    I am so glad you enjoyed your visit to Buffalo. Thanks for telling other gardeners about it.

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