Going to see parks and other public and private gardens is one of the best ways to get ideas for improvements to your own landscape. It’s also a way to have fun during these hot summer weekends when there’s not much to do in your own landscape. Here in the Rochester area there are plenty of opportunities.
Highland Park is open year-round, not just during the annual Lilac Festival. Now, after the festival you can take in the scenery of this Frederick Law Olmstead designed park without the crowds that visit the park during the festival. If you want to see more of Olmstead’s work, visit Genesee Valley, Seneca and Maplewood Parks, too. Olmstead referred to these magnificent local gems as the Emerald Necklace.
If you want a break from looking at all the labeled plants, you can visit the Lambert Conservatory at Highland Park and the zoo at Seneca Park. The conservatory has a variety of year-round displays of plants from other climate zones, including a desert and a tropical plant display.
You can visit formal gardens at the George Eastman Museum on East Avenue in Rochester or Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion in nearby Canandaigua. The latter was the summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson. Besides the beautiful, formal gardens, the restored mansion is an excellent example of opulence in the gilded age.
If smaller gardens are more your style, you might shuffle off to Buffalo the weekend of July 30 and 31 for Garden Walk Buffalo. Owners of more than 400 urban gardens open their beautiful backyards to the public. These gardens can offer you great ideas for your own landscape, especially if yours is small. The owners have done creative, amazing things with their limited space. Best of all, this self-guided tour is free. To find out where to pick up a map for Garden Walk Buffalo, visit gardensbuffaloniagara.com.
If your interest is trees, one of the newest public gardens is Draves Arboretum in Darien Center. It was established by my friend and fellow arborist Tom Draves, and has many unusual specimens, including one named for Tom. Draves Arboretum, which hosts individuals and garden clubs, as well as weddings, parties and colleges, is open by appointment only. For individual tours, the arboretum asks for at least a day’s notice before you plan to visit. You can phone them at 585.547.3341 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our area is a horticultural and landscape design wonderland. You can get plenty of ideas that you can adapt to your own property without spending a lot of money simply by day tripping.