by Alexandra Muto
The Final Historic Trinity Garden Tour took place Saturday, July 14. Garden Tour Committee President Martha Martin previously explained that this was because "the committee has gotten smaller, and members are unable to carry on with the project." Despite her humble statement, the committee went above and beyond to offer an exhibition of seven diverse local gardens and one business.
The tour's first garden in the home of Evelyn Garten on Baseline Road has taken years of diligent and intricate work. Garten explained that she began cultivating her quaint, peaceful garden the season following Christmas 1958, almost immediately after she moved into the home with her husband. Garten explained that, "each year I develop this garden a little more," brainstorming new ways to rejuvenate her garden. Important accomplishments include finding the rose hips she had loved in her garden from her native Germany, which are more rare locally. She creatively arranged these around the arbor in front of her house and found a multipurpose use for them, using them to make jams and tea. She also rounded the branches of a dying juniper tree to make it appear as a lively bonsai.
Linda and Frank Sandarelli of East River Road also developed a unique garden to emphasize the beauty of their majestic home. The tour booklet explained that the Sandarellis first built their home in 1999 and built their garden around it. They considered what plants and items would accentuate their home's beauty. They try to add a new item regularly, including new types of trees, like an apricot tree and a crab apple tree. One of the most intriguing pieces in their garden is a barn they placed in the center of the trees, which adds a rustic, peaceful feel to their modern home.
Jim and Linda Broman of Timberlink Drive built a spectacular perennial garden behind their home. Debbie, a greeter during the tour and a certified New York State Nature and Landscape Professional, explained that the garden, which was built by an English gardening professional and is in its third year, "has reached its peak - this is what you want with a perennial garden of its kind. At this point, the plants settle and start to adjust to the neighboring plants around them." The fully bloomed, stunning plants are complemented by a variety of decorative ornaments. The garden has many inhabited birdhouses and unique plants rarely found in other gardens. Some plants that were actually the same species even appeared completely different from each other. Debbie pointed to two seemingly different trees, one dark green shaded plant and one orange tree in the sun, which were both smoke bushes. She explained, "one strand of the tree flourishes in the shade, and the other does in the sunlight." The advice of such professionals has proven vital to the development of this stunning garden.
Joel and Linda Cohen of Park Place, who previously owned a partially pre-grown garden in a home in Kenmore, moved to the Island in 2006 and found that it took an enormous effort to create their completely original garden. Linda Cohen explained that when they constructed their current home, "building all of this garden was a humbling experience!" They managed to put together a garden with a beautiful arrangement of colorful, bright flowers surrounding a patio with an incredible view. The Cohens cordially invited visitors to view of these wonderful sights from their patio.
Carol and Chuck Horrigan of Calvano Drive cultivated a complex garden with a varied arrangement of flowers, plants, ornaments and center points. Carol Horrigan explained that before she and her husband began building their garden in 1998, "I had no (prior) experience with gardening!" Though their garden was nearly empty when they moved to Calvano Drive, the Horrigans worked with their son Adam to produce a fabulous garden. Horrigan explains that her key technique was planting and building around the many "focal points" already in her garden. One example is a bench she built a hosta garden around, and a bridge, which she planted a Rose of Sharon tree around.
Sonja Miller of West River Road also creatively utilized objects normally unrelated to gardens to build a beautiful garden. Miller has "fenced" in an arrangement of different type of unique flowers and plants - even cacti - with a fence made of stones she collected from a nearby quarry. She then used the help of some young landscapers to arrange the stones into a quasi-fence. Miller also had a wonderful solution to a majestic, yet dying elm tree in front of her home. She had local popular artist Rick Pratt carve the well-known elm from the historical Pierce Farm in the 1890s into the head of an eagle. She had many ideas—"I work with a canine rescue unit, so I thought about carving it into the head of a dog, but ultimately I decided on an eagle" due to the proximity of an eagle's nest on Navy Island just downriver from her home.
Finally, Stu and Donna Lavallee of West River Road concluded the home tour with a traditional backyard offset with stunning flowers and ornaments. The Lavallees added a splash of color to their home by growing popular kinds of flowers like peonies, yellow daylilies, and a rose bush around their home, as well as adding ornaments of playful animals like cats. They care for the plants, which the booklet describes as being near "40 or 50 years old" that came with their home. They have also planted many new flowerbeds in their garden to affect the beautiful appearance of their yard.
After the home tour was complete, visitors were redirected to a new business in Grand Island, Serene Gardens, to trade their tour booklets in for a complementary cup of tea. Serene Gardens owner Dr. Josh Smith explained that Serene Gardens is offering a variety of services - you can buy planting and gardening items, coffee, lunch, and even home landscaping services. The business has a cute garden where visitors can gather, enjoy tea and food, and admire the scenery. It was a perfect end to a tour dedicated to Grand Island's many beautiful gardens.
The tour proved to be a wonderful opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Grand Island and the artistry of its residents. It was a wonderful reminder of the beauty and creativity present in the region. Although unfortunately the Historic Trinity Committee has announced this is the last year of the event, visitors can hopefully anticipate the beginning of another annual garden tour on the Island.