Bowling balls, bathtubs and busts find a home in WNY gardens | Home & Garden

Your perennials have popped up. Your porch pots are planted. The fence is freshly painted, the deck stained and the outdoor furniture in place.

But as many gardeners – and garden visitors – know, art and accents are what complete that outdoor space and make it memorable, unique and personal.

Visitors to the gardens throughout Buffalo Niagara have seen the creativity: a wall of colorful bottles; a collection of glass flowers; foam wig heads transformed into planters; signs of all types; a vertical sculpture made from bowling balls and much more.

Once visitors see the bowling ball sculpture in the Buffalo garden of Mitch Flynn, above, and Ellen Goldstein, they don’t forget it.

Sharon Cantillon / News file photo

“Many of the most-photographed gardens get the attention because of art and collections. The art and décor were chosen with love during the gardeners’ travels, or the items were made, repurposed, or chosen because they were just right for that garden. They are all very personal,” write Sally Cunningham and Jim Charlier in “Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs” (St. Lynn’s Press, $24.95). Cunningham, the Great Gardening columnist for The Buffalo News, and Charlier, a self-employed graphic designer at JCharlier Communication Design, feature garden art throughout their book.

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This time of year, besides shopping at greenhouses, specialty retailers and garage/estate sales, people have additional opportunities to pick up new finds locally. One event: the Buffalo Style Garden Art Sale is scheduled from 10 am to 4 pm June 25 and 10 am to 3 pm June 26 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave. (See details of this and a few other events below.)

Sharon Russell-Moore and Mike Moore are big on garden décor, since gardening “is not just planting plants.” Their garden will be on the City of Tonawanda Garden Walk July 23 (night tour July 22) and is one of the “Open Gardens” visitors can tour during select hours on Thursdays or Fridays in July. It was also featured in The Buffalo News’ “Outdoor Spaces” series.

“We just went to the Allentown Art Festival, and I picked up a piece of garden art. It’s a stainless steel spike you put in the garden that looks like a flower but the center of the flower is actually a Depression glass plate,” said Russell-Moore by phone earlier this week.

Another recent purchase from an antiques shop was a metal mannequin that’s now in their garden.

These join other items that they have collected through the years. Fish baskets (originally used to hold fish in the water after being caught), a vintage tub and a life-size Dalmatian placed next to an antique fire hydrant are just a few highlights.

“We go antiquing every spring to try and see if we can find things for the garden. Oftentimes, they are not things that are meant for the garden; they just struck our fancy and end up working in the garden,” Russell-Moore told The Buffalo News in a gardening story earlier this year.

Garden decor

A dressed-up bust in the garden gazebo at the home of Sharon Russell-Moore and Mike Moore in their City of Tonawanda garden.

Derek Gee / News file photo

• Search your garage, basement and attic for old items that can find a new home in your garden. Ladders, old picture frames, window frames, mirrors, doors, watering cans, even old bicycles can make interesting additions to the garden. Depending on your style, keep repurposed items weathered or add a fresh coat of paint.

• Don’t overdo it. Too much can look cluttered. You’re not having a yard sale.

• Think about placement. “There are tricks you can use in placement. If you have something large, put it towards the end of the garden so you can see it from a distance. Or set it up so that you see it out of the window you look out of most often,” said Charlier, a board member of both Gardens Buffalo Niagara and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and a longtime Garden Walk Buffalo participant.

Another trick: If you have a smaller yard and larger artwork, placing the art on the diagonal from where you enter the garden will make the yard feel larger. “It seems like there’s a greater distance between you and the artwork,” he said in a phone interview.

• Collections of things have greater impact than a single item, he said. Envision, for example, a collection of old empty picture frames, freshly painted, hanging on a fence instead of just a single frame.

Jim Charlier painted garden posts

Colorful garden posts were created by Jim Charlier, seen at the Gima garden in Buffalo. His hand-painted posts will be sold at the Buffalo Style Garden Art Sale June 25 and 26 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. They come in three sizes: small (5 feet 6 inches, $135); medium (6 feet 6 inches, $235); and large (8 feet, $335).

John Hickey /News file photo

• Consider using a spotlight on a fountain or statue to make it look even more special after dark.

• Finally, if you fall in love with a piece, but it’s large, heavy and/or unusually shaped and can’t safely remain out all winter, ask yourself if you really have a place to store it.

A few events for shopping

The Lewiston GardenFest is scheduled for 10 am to 5 pm June 18 and 19. Vendors will be set up on Center Street. Presented by the Lewiston Garden Club, the event also features a free walk of residential gardens, a container garden contest and children’s crafts. Visit

The Buffalo Style Garden Art Sale is scheduled from 10 am to 4 pm June 25 and 10 am to 3 pm June 26 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave. Vendors, mostly local, will be selling nature-themed items suited for garden displays, including sculpture, metalwork, paintings, woodwork, architectural remains, found art, ceramics and planters. The event is free. Visit for a list of vendors, food truck and live music information, and other details.

Vendors will also be set up at Memorial Park during the Hamburg Garden Walk, 10 am to 4 pm July 9 and 10.

Make a splash

A whimsical water feature is created from an old child-size tub and copper tube and showerhead hooked up to a pump. It can’t be missed outside the City of Tonawanda home of Sharon Russell-Moore and Mike Moore.

Derek Gee / News file photo


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