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June in Western New York means it’s garden tour time. Lots of them pop up in communities all summer long. Many are part of Buffalo’s six-week National Garden Festival that kicks off June 21. The festival highlights self-guided weekend tours but also offers a full lineup of garden-related events: educational programs, guided Motorcoach tours, a Buffalo-style Garden Art Sale and the popular Open Gardens program. For this, residents open their private gardens to visitors at particular dates and times. The schedule for all these and more can be found on the website, nationalgardenfestival.com.

In the meantime get ready for some tours of private and public spaces, whether you are a novice gardener or a seasoned one. Veteran garden tourists know to bring a notebook and camera (it’s always polite to ask first before taking photographs.) Sunscreen, hats, bottled water and umbrellas are musts (walks are rain or shine). Take a tour in a community that is new to you; explore nearby shops and restaurants. A few of these walks even include evening hours. It’s always fun to make a day of it and mingle with other gardeners and tourists.

“People will be talking about how hard and long the winter was because many plants didn’t make it,” predicts Jim Charlier, past president of Garden Walk Buffalo who lost, among other things, a pear tree.

Let’s not forget that Garden Walk Buffalo is celebrating its 20th anniversary. This highly anticipated summer event, the largest garden tour in America, will be held July 26-27 with close to 400 urban gardens. Special events commemorating the anniversary, including a Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert and Burchfield Penney exhibition, are scheduled. Check out the website, www.gardenwalkbuffalo.com.

Planning on attending a local tour or walk? Be prepared to see gardens of many sizes and styles. Some residents focus on front, rear or side gardens. Others go for all of them. Some gardens are quite formal. Others, cottage-style or filled with whimsy. One thing for sure: You’ll come home with plenty of ideas – whether it’s inspiration for a new garden path, perennial garden or porch pot. Take a look at the list on Page F5.

– Susan Martin