By Kerri Linsenbigler:
The third annual National Garden Festival is blooming. This five-week-long garden party, which runs through July 29, features 14 garden walks, open gardens on Thursdays and Fridays and a neighborhood transforming Front Yard Contest. But for a behind-the-scenes look into neighborhood gardens, you'll have to catch a bus.
AAA Western and Central New York's Horizon Club Tours is offering one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive motor coach tours of western New York's best urban and suburban gardens.
On July 6, head north of the beaten garden path on "The Outliers: Superior Northtowns Gardens" tour. This is your chance to see great suburban gardens not included on the walks. Or, head the opposite direction for the "Southtowns Bouquet," July 13, featuring internationally recognized hosta author Mike Shadrack's personal garden. Then, experience Garden Walk Buffalo a week early on the "Great Gardens of Buffalo" tour, July 20.
Dig into an urban working farm, July 21, on the "Grassroots: Community Gardens & Urban Agriculture" tour. On July 26, visit greenhouses and nurseries on the "Southern Tier: Flowers and Farm Gardens" tour. But, if you want to take your own garden to the next level, attend the "Gardens for Gardeners" tour, July 27, where plant expert Sally Cunnigham will show you how to grow unusual plants spotted along the tour.
All bus tours include lunch and a plant-savvy tour guide. Buses pick up in Orchard Park, Williamsville and at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Buffalo. To sign up or for more information go to www.nationalgardenfestival.com
or call 1-800-242-4244.