Buffalo News - January 28, 2014
by: Mark Sommer
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens bring back Night Lights event for its fourth year, offering ‘kid-interactive fun family’ programs and a chance to escape ‘crazy-cold weather’
It’s an especially good time to be at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens – and for the not-for-profit that operates the century-old, tri-domed Victorian glass house located on the edge of South Park.
Beginning Wednesday, Night Lights at the Gardens – with its trademark multicolored theatrical and interactive lighting, including lasers, enhanced sound and added animation – will soothingly transform the Botanical Gardens for a fourth successive year.“I’m really looking forward to seeing all the kids again. Last year, we really had an outrageous amount of kids, and they love it,” said Erin Grajek, Botanical Gardens’ marketing director. “We’ve amped up the kid-interactive fun family stuff, because it really is a great place to bring families in this crazy-cold weather.”Dazzling and ever-changing shards of colorful lights in the main Palm Room were seen during the event’s setup projecting onto yarey, royal and Sliver Bismarckia palms, or dancing along the 67-foot-high dome.
A nearby female form – constructed from chicken wire, packing tape and a table cloth – was also manipulated with colorful lasers.Interactive, colorful lights lent a new way to experience the Fern House and Tropical Rainforest’s 30-foot waterfall, rainbow-lit bridge and dinosaur topiary, adding another contemporary presentation to the Lord & Burnham-designed conservatory. In House 11, the number of red-and-green butterflies that fill up the small space is being doubled to 8,000.The work is the result of a collaboration between Doug Sittler of Sittler HQ and Steve French of Volt Vision.The most prominent addition this year – that’s sure to be a hit with kids – is what Francis called “a primitive version of motion capture,” allowing a person’s movements in front of a projection screen to be mimicked by an animated fern and Venus fly trap.
The annual Night Lights at the Gardens is one of the site’s most popular events. Total attendance the past two years has gone above 90,000.“Last year was spectacular in so many different ways. Just about every event we had exceeded expectations,” said David J. Swarts, the Botanical Gardens’ president and chief executive officer.The Panama House and outdoor Children’s Garden were redone. A Native Garden was installed, and a gazebo constructed.
The children’s education programs also blossomed, with 12,500 participants last year, the most ever, Swarts said.A horticulture certificate program begun in late 2012 and carried through 2013 helped return the Botanical Gardens to its mission as the region’s “horticulture hub,” he said, with 20 classes averaging more than 30 participants.Other events in February include “Kids Day at the Gardens” on Feb. 19, and the Orchid Show Feb. 22 and 23.
Despite the intense cold that’s draped the region, Swarts is hopeful the light show in the warm confines of the Botanical Gardens will make it a go-to destination the next three weeks.“I keep saying that as long as it doesn’t snow heavily, people are going to want to be here because it’s like being in Florida without buying an airline ticket,” Swarts said.
Night Lights at the Gardens will run Wednesday to Saturday evenings until Feb. 15. Hours are 6 to 9 p.m. weekdays, and 6 to 10 p.m. on weekends.There will also be musical entertainment and fire exhibitions on some nights. For more information, go to www.buffalogardens.com
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The first ever book on garden tourism was published earlier this year, and Buffalo is represented.
Jim Charlier, author of the blog Art of Gardening, gives us the details in this post. Charlier is seven-time past president of Garden Walk Buffalo as well as the current chair of its marketing committee. He is a co-founder of the National Garden Festival and is on its planning committee.
Garden Tourism was written by Dr. Richard W. Benfield, associate professor of Geography at Central Connecticut State University. It’s an academic book covering the history of garden tourism starting in Egypt around 1,500 B.C.
In a 240-page book that covers so much geographic territory and such a huge time span, I’m impressed that the events in Buffalo in the past few decades are given a page and a half.
There’s also a photo of the garden of Jennifer Guercio. Here at Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, she offered 4 big tips for creating a garden with year-round interest.
In the Garden Tourism chapter titled “Outdoor Garden Festivals,” there is a brief introduction on the origins of Garden Walk Buffalo as well as its byproduct, the National Garden Festival, Charlier said.
“There are stats and research data we’ve collected over the years from Zip Code collection and consumer surveys with the help and financial support of Visit Buffalo Niagara,” Charlier said. Statistics from the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens were also used.
Benfield also mentioned Charlier in the preface, writing, “Jim Charlier of Garden Walk Buffalo started out as a source of great knowledge and insight and became a firm friend.” Charlier wrote an endorsement for the back of the book.
It’s estimated that more than 300 million people visited gardens worldwide in 2000. Compare that to the 335 million people that visited amusement parks in 2007, he said.
Total revenues for admittance to garden attractions has never been measured, but it is known that Americans spent $34 billion on plants, tools and supplies in 2005 – $11 billion in flowers alone! U.S. amusement park revenues were only $12 billion in 2007, and casinos had revenue of $35 billion in 2005.
Gardening is a dominant leisure activity, Charlier pointed out. Tourism is the world’s number one industry. And garden tourism is a significant part of it.
Read more at Art of Gardening.
by Connie Oswald Stofko
7pm at the Botanical Gardens
During the Niagara Frontier Orchid Society's Monthly Meeting
Phil Matt grows his orchids in a basement “greenhouse” at his home in Rochester, NY. An active member of the Genesee Region Orchid Society for many years, Phil also serves as the Society’s newsletter editor and webmaster.
Phil has always enjoyed growing Phalaenopsis orchids, even before they became the most commonly-encountered plants in almost any kind of retail setting imaginable. As a grower with many years of experience, he is constantly adjusting his growing techniques in an effort to achieve better flowering and more vigorous plants. Phil is back to working on Phalaenopsis hybridizing after a hiatus of unspecified length. He has never bought an orchid at a big box store or supermarket. Really!
Phil has a couple of Masters degrees hanging on the wall. His career as a professional photojournalist (and p/t college professor) has taken him into a lot of unlikely places over the years, even for a native of NYC. These days, he’s also spending a lot of time as proprietor of Nimble Eye Design, designing and coding commercial web sites, print publications and assorted other media projects. As far as he can tell, he’s never been an officer of any organization, is not a certified (or uncertified) orchid judge, is not involved in an orchid business with his spouse, and promises not to bore you to death when he presents, “Phalaenopsis Under Lights: A Cave for All
This is free to attend but you MUST MAKE A RESERVATION. Please call John to make a reservation at 835-2132