Flowers, Etc in the Press
BUFFALO NEWS: May 6, 2010

Yard smart: Gazebos, faux rocks and other tips to beautify the garden

By Susan Martin / Home & Style Editor
Published:May 6, 2010

When it comes to your garden, never underestimate what a big container of flowers in the right spot can do.

"If you want to bring in more color — maybe things aren't blooming the way they are supposed to, or you have a bare spot in the garden — just add a pot," said John M. Hochadel, a Garden Walk Buffalo veteran and local florist.

Plunk. Mission accomplished.

This is just one trick that those-in-the-know rely on during warm-weather months when it comes to gardening, decorating and outdoor entertaining.

Face it, we all have issues. The yard lacks shade or privacy. The tree stump is an eyesore. The cloths keep blowing off the tables.

Before another summer goes by, here are some simple solutions to such common issues:
No shade: Company is coming, and you're worried Aunt Mary will melt in the sun.

Recent years have seen a burst of portable gazebos, cabanas and other garden structures worth exploring. Some have drop sides or mosquito netting. Prices vary depending on size, quality, etc., with many priced in the $100 to $400 range.

Misbehaving tablecloths: Some outdoor tables are good-looking enough to be kept uncovered dressed up with place mats. If your table is not, you need a cloth. Then the breeze kicks up. Perhaps you have tried everything from clip-on weights to masking tape to thumbtacks to keep it in place.

One solution may be to simply use a heavier, longer-length cloth that extends closer toward the ground, Hochadel suggested.

Local event planner Lisa Redino, too, suggested heavier cloths — and added a few more suggestions.

"A lace overlay over a pretty cloth gives it weight and looks great," said Redino, owner of Party Harty, in the Georgetown Square Plaza Courtyard at Sheridan Drive and Evans Street, Williamsville.

Other ways to layer: "If you have a nice tablecloth, you can cover it with a clear plastic and lace over that. It will protect the cloth and look professional — and fabulous, she said. Clear heavy cover over a disposable polka-dot cloth also is lots of fun.

Ugly stumps: Sure, maybe the neighborhood cat likes to nap on it, but a stump can be another eyesore. One easy suggestion: Place a big hanging basket on top of it, said Hochadel, who owns Flowers Etc., 372 Connecticut St.

Depending on the location (full sun, shade, etc.), a Boston fern, petunias, combination planter with trailing ivy might work. Just be sure to choose the right plant for the site.

Drab decks: What you need are splashes of color. Bright pots of colorful flowers, bold Adirondack chairs (or retro-style metal ones), a free-standing umbrella in a fun color and cheery melamine outdoor dishes are just a few possibilities. And why not paint the back door a great color while you're at it? Little effort, big results.

Eyesores: You know the ones — air-conditioners, unsightly utility boxes, etc.
Yes, you want to camouflage, but in doing so you don't want to block access, plant too close to any unit that generates heat or choose anything that will creep as it grows and become entangled in it.

Instead, select a shrub or a variety of perennial grass that, as it grows and matures, provides a nice screen but tends to stay more in a clump — unlike a clematis that can climb right into the unit, said Joe Weber, general operations manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Road, West Seneca.

Another option: Brookstone is one resource for finding faux rocks designed to cover up unsightly pumps and other eyesores. Find out more at

No privacy: Trellises and arbors with fast-growing vines are one way to screen yourself from neighbors.

If you have a covered porch with railing, several large hanging baskets and lush window boxes can also do wonders creating a sense of privacy.

Finally, here's a strategy to keep in mind as summer approaches: Make life simpler but keep it beautiful.

In the garden, that means choosing plants that are low maintenance but a joy to experience — through their colors, textures, shapes and scents.

So writes garden designer/author Tracy Disabato-Aust in her book "50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants: Tough-but-Beautiful Plants That Anyone Can Grow" (Timber Press, $9.99).

"It's great if a plant is easy to grow, but if it's of minimal ornamental value, who really cares?" she writes.

Now that's a tip worth keeping.

ã Union Place Media and Flowers, Etc.