Thursday, June 16, 2011

lilac festival and shade garden envy

{Note: this is just one of a series of posts drafted quite some time ago, that never got posted. Yikes... time has flown this spring/early summer!}

On Sunday [as in Sunday, May 22] we went to visit friends from Buffalo who recently moved back to Western New York from California, this time settling in Rochester. They invited us to visit this weekend to see their new place and to check out the Lilac Festival at Highland Park. 

I haven't spent much time in Rochester, aside from a few quick visits to friends who live there, but it's usually at night, in and out, and I don't do much exploring. Or I get sidetracked by Dinosaur BBQ and tend to want to stay put, gorging myself on ribs, macaroni and cheese, cornbread and beer.

This time around I got to do about 5 or 6 miles' worth of exploring on foot, from our friends' new apartment on gorgeous Arnold Park, to Highland Park and through the South Wedge neighborhood. So many beautiful houses with amazing trees, shrubs, flowers and ground cover.

I'm generally not a huge rhododendron and azalea fan - but the ones leading up the steps to the entrance of Highland Park are stunning contrasted against all the greenery.

And there were, of course, lilacs - holy cow, were there lilacs. Highland Park boasts over 500 varieties of lilacs on more than 1,200 bushes.  Here are a few shots that were taken in between sniffs. I was surprised by how different each variety smelled from one another.

Double petaled variety. 

Two varieties growing together.

White double petaled lilac.

Lilac tree with lichen.

And hills. Oh how I miss the variety that hills lend to the landscape of a place. Buffalo, I love you dearly, but you are as flat as a surfboard.

Another stunning feature of Highland Park is its Magnolia collection.

JC studying the magnolia. We did a lot of comparing and contrasting.

And there were dogwoods....

... and buckeye trees, which we have plenty of in Buffalo, but none that I have seen up close at eye level. We marveled over their tiny clusters of orchid-like blooms.

Fallen crabapple blossoms.

On the walk back I noticed that many people's front yards were steeply sloped down to the sidewalks and covered in various ground-cover instead of grass (something we are very anxious to do with our front yard). One house had a bank solid with Lilly of the Valley - SO pretty and fragrant.

Another house had a bank scattered with wild violets and beautiful foliage. 

On the way back to our friends' apartment, we stopped at our friend Dave's brother's house, and had a beer in his backyard, where I came down with a bad case of shade garden envy. 


Sweet Woodruff - holds a special place in my heart. Our wedding cake was decorated with Sweet Woodruff from Evan's mother's woodland gardens in Bar Harbor, Maine. 

Solomon's Seal. 
{postscript - my mom has added this to her adorable patio and fire pit area in her backyard, and I couldn't get enough of it when I was back in Maine visiting recently - especially how dramatic it looked in the light of the fire. Definitely filing it away as something to plant in the one small shady area on our property.}

Lounging in this shady garden made me realize just how many of my favorite plants are in fact shady woodland plants, and how completely sunny or little property is. 

But believe me, I know that is not something I should ever be caught complaining about. 

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