By DIANE R. CHODAN
OBSERVER Staff Writer
The National Garden Festival, a celebration of gardening in the greater Buffalo area, extended its "green umbrella" to Chautauqua County this year. In connection with the "five week-long garden party" in June and July, a bus tour was organized to tour three gardens in Chautauqua County: the Burton's Breezewood Gardens on Cummings Road in Stockton, Ran Lydell's Eagle Bay Gardens near Sheridan and the Lord family garden in Forestville.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Tim and Linda Burton with their dog Sadie pose in front of some of the colorful perennial plants in their Breezewood Garden.
Linda and John Burton have created a large show place for plants which was billed as "one of the best perennial gardens in the area" by the advertising for the bus tour.
"We have been gardening for about 15 years; intensely for the last six," Linda said. "Our garden is mostly a shade garden."
A large and varied garden, one prominent section is located under pine trees. John explained that he lost some pines in the area to a storm. Instead of replanting, the Burtons created a unique area featuring the remaining trees, shade plants - many of them hostas - and some annuals. Rocks add interest to the area, as well as providing a place for their granddaughter, Charlotte Couchman, to perch. On tour day, her colorful dress adding to the beauty of the garden.
John enjoys doing the "rock work."
"I brought in about six ton of rocks," he said. "I moved them in with a tractor."
A man who appreciates rocks as well as items made from rock, he has several millstones which he strategically placed. One peaceful nook in the garden features a stone serving as a bench.
"I got that after Cardinal Mindszenty High School was closed. It was a step."
Gardening on Cummings Road in Stockton provides a challenge. Breezewood is located on the peak of the Chautauqua escarpment. The Burtons can get as many 230 inches of snow during a snowy season.
The Burtons say that they worked for three months to prepare for the bus tour. The morning for which they had so thoroughly prepared featured some rain, but after the bus arrived the weather held.
Michael Shadrack, an international hosta expert, led the tour. Shadrack has written books about hostas and maintains thousands of photographic images of hosta varieties. He conducts tours of private gardens throughout the United States and United Kingdom. Locally, he is the current president of Western New York Hosta Society. According to Linda she met him through the society.
Linda was wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed "Hosta La Vista" when she and John went out to greet the tour members. Ran Lydell whose Eagle Bay Gardens was also featured on the tour is also a hosta enthusiast. Lydell owns Cook's Nursery on Bennett Road in Dunkirk. He is known for hybridizing hostas. He is vice president of the Western New York Hosta Society.
Hostas are herbaceous perennial plants that tolerate shade. They are native to China, Korea, and Japan but have been grown in Europe since the late eighteenth century and in American since the early nineteenth century. The American Hosta Society maintains that they are easy to grow. Lydell said there are probably at least 5,000 different kinds of hostas. They vary in color, leaf type, size, and type of flower.
Tour members were avid gardeners, commenting about the different varieties of plants, asking questions, and comparing notes about which plants worked in their gardens and which ones did not. Two women who came on the tour together said they had first learned about the tour at Plantasia, a garden show held in March at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. They were not members of a garden club, although both enjoy gardening. They thought this tour sounded interesting so signed up together.
Ran Lydell enjoyed hosting part of the tour. Commenting about the tour members he said, "They were a very enthusiastic group."
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