Our Intrepid Shopper

Takes on New Territory

by Colleen O’Neill Nice

My friend Elaine and I ventured out on yet another all-day plant search, this time through the Southtowns of Buffalo. If you consider yourself adventurous, passionate about gardening and crave unique plants, grab your garden buddy and make the trek. You will not be disappointed. Once again, we had no problem filling our SUV with promising treasures!

We started our trip slightly off the Transit Road route (see the map below) by visiting three nurseries in the historic 'Gardenville' neighborhood.  This hub of horticulture was formed by many families who farmed the land, then expanded into greenhouses. According to the West Seneca Historical Society, Gustav Galley was the grandfather and great, great grandfather of many descendants in the area. He came to America from Germany in the late 1860's. Gustav and his wife Justina, also from Germany, had nine children – seven boys and two girls.

The eldest son, John Henry (1873-1931), started his business, J.H. Galley on Union Road. Paul (1875-1944), the second oldest, began Bengert's Greenhouse. Another brother Rudolph (1880-1964), started his business at the corner of Clinton and Old French. Other families including the Earsings, Webers and Lehdes (Lehds) are somehow related, all with a rich agricultural heritage. Presently, Rudolph Galley, Mike Weber, Bengert's, Earsing's and Dan Majewski continue the greenhouse tradition in Gardenville. 

Our first stop was Bengert's Nursery. Here we met Cathy, who is extremely knowledgeable about her business and introduced us to some plants that we just had to try. Hibiscus acetosella 'Maple Sugar' caught my eye with its dark red glossy, maple leaf-shaped foliage. It blooms late in the season (October), and forms an upright shrub that grows to three feet or more. Plant it directly in a mixed border or add it to a large pot where its height adds drama while the foliage creates a tropical excitement. Iresine herbstii 'Bloodleaf', a great foliage plant, adds a burst of color with its vibrant waxy, purple and pink leaves. Both 'Maple Sugar' and 'Bloodleaf' are frost-tender, so treat them as annuals or take cuttings, before frost, to overwinter indoors.

In addition to accent annuals grown in 3" pots, Bengert's has a large selection of geraniums, gerbera daisies and petunias. Some items that you may not see at other nurseries are white heliotrope; calla lilies in yellow, white and burgundy; a good selection of tree peonies; and Colocasia 'Black Magic'. I also saw raspberry colored Ageratum 'Artist Purple' and salmon/pink Agastache 'Acapulco', both charming annuals.

Cathy and her staff design some gorgeous mixed hanging baskets which are always a big hit for Mother's Day. She suggests getting an early start on the gardening season since her annuals are usually gone by the third or fourth week in June. Her hot seller, optic grass (Scirpus cernuus, also known as Isolepis cernua) is a great conversation plant, with its arching, slender foliage and buff colored flowers. Keep in mind that this grass loves moisture, reaches 10-12" tall with a clumping growth habit and can add movement and interest to a mixed container.

Bengert's also works with schools and organizations in the area to supply healthy, well-grown plants for fundraisers. So bring some color to your community with a plant sale, while raising funds for a needy organization.

We continued down the road to Rudolph Galley & Sons Greenhouses which is open year-round and specializes in flowering plants for every season.

During Easter, since childhood, my mom would plan an outing to Galley with my three siblings and I. We were excited to select flowering plants for our grandmothers, our aunts, the sunrise church procession and ourselves. As we walked through the greenhouses, we were encouraged to breathe deeply –– the fragrance was heavenly! We never could reach a consensus on what flowers to buy for whom. But the  car trunk soon filled with huge mounded hydrangeas, fragrant hyacinths, colorful tulips, tall lilies and unique pocketbook plants (calceolaria). And to each and every child, the Easter bunny would hand a small potted marigold. We held our marigold in the car for the ride home –– which was not an easy task. There were a few occasions when the blossom suddenly snapped and hung over the stem attached only by a thread. But the marigold was lovingly placed on the window sill and nurtured until it could be planted into my mom's garden. The tradition has continued for more than forty years, with my daughter and husband now helping me select our Easter plants.

Although Mother's Day is another great time to visit the greenhouses, be sure to stop back a bit later in May for your outdoor gardens. Check for unique varieties of annuals like strawflowers  (Helichrysum bracteatum), bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) and globe amaranth (Gomphrena) –– offering new and different annuals every year. Galley sells over 100 varieties of herbs, a large assortment of perennials, water garden/pond plants, 14 varieties of cannas and potted specialty annuals.

They proudly grow most of their vegetable transplants that are sold in 6-packs, as well as singles. Enhance your vegetable garden with over 15 varieties of tomatoes, a good selection of peppers, 3 or 4 types of cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, watermelon and corn. And if you have no space for a vegetable garden –– try tomatoes in containers, peppers mixed in with your perrenials or corn growing with your ornamental grasses.

Throughout the season, collect your "Christmas Tree Money" (25¢ for each $10 purchase) and use toward your holiday plants. Featuring over 20 varieties of poinsettias, fresh trees, wreaths and holiday decorations, Galley offers greenhouses packed with color and fragrance during the snowy winter months. In addition to houseplants, most garden supplies can be purchased including seeds, bamboo stakes, potting mixes, fertilizers, trellises, watering cans, hummingbird feeders and bird food. Clay, plastic and ceramic containers and window boxes are also available. A large selection of strawberry pots caught my eye in 1 quart, 1, 2 and 3 gallon sizes. So stop in to Galley's any time of year for a truly floricultural experience! 

© 2017 Gardens By Colleen. All rights reserved.

Our next stop is Earsings, a family business where "everybody does everything", according to Mary Ann Earsing. Her three sons help her create a humorous, creative display of plants that is very inspiring. Signs embellish the plant displays and seem to shout out to the browsing customer with  "Take me home","This is your lucky day" and "Making waves". Old chairs, tables, wicker, wagons and wooden crates all add to the homey, country charm of Earsings. Everywhere you look – window boxes, ivy topiaries (roosters, dogs, turtles), potted zinnias and rudbeckias – tons of ideas to bring color and excitement to your home, summer cottage or office.

Check out the pond plants which multiply quickly and can be shared with friends and neighbors. Two floaters I purchased were water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and flowering water hyacinths (Eichornia crassipes).  Since I don't have a pond, I simply floated them in a birdbath or you can add them to a tub or large waterproof pot for an interesting look.

In addition to perennials grown in 3" and gallon pots, you can find vegetables, shrubs, annuals and mixed pots. Salvia argentea caught my eye, labeled with the sign 'Fuzzy Friend'. My initial introduction to this plant was at Great Dixter, the garden of Christopher Lloyd. As an edging in the front of a sunny border, it's large grey basal rosettes of foliage looked specular with magenta and pink zinnias.

Keep in mind that Mary Ann and her family keep the nursery stocked and packed with fresh ideas throughout the summer and into fall. Scare crows, mums, hay bales, asters and sunflowers can extend the garden season a few months longer and add rich, saturated colors to the garden.

Now we head south on Transit Road to Seneca Greenhouse. Here we find an impressive display of annuals, perennials and shrubs, but more importantly, several species within the same genus. For example, spend some time checking out the hardy, tall, fragrant Phlox paniculata. Seneca Greenhouse has 'Amethyst' (violet-pink), 'Little Laura' (violet-blue), 'The King' (deep violet), 'Katarina' (lavender), 'Nicky' (purple), 'Rowie' (light pink), and Fujiyama' (white). Or browse the selection of perennial salvias. S. nemorosa 'Marcus' has a 12" mounding habit with deep purple-blue flowers, while S. greggii 'Wild Thing' has lustrous green, fragrant foliage and droves of vivid cherry-pink flowers with contrasting wine-colored calyxes. For alluring sky blue spires, try S. 'Blue Perfume' or for smokey purple flowers on arching stems, how about S. verticilatta "Purple Rain'. Seneca also has a large selection of astilbe, cannas, rhododendrons and rex begonias. We also found white scavoela (many nurseries carry the purple) and very well-grown tight, full verbena – not at all straggly and brown.

Some interesting plants to mention are the gold-leaved cornflower, Centaurea montana 'Gold Buillion' introduced by Blooms of Bressingham of Norfolk, England. For a moist, shady area, try Ligularia dentata 'Britt Marie Crawford' with large 6" glossy chocolate-maroon foliage with purple undersides and orange-yellow flowers showing off late in summer.  For a sunny spot, try a yellow and green variegated sedum called S. alboroseum 'Mediovariegatum', which grows upright to about 15" and displays white flowers. And for the clematis collector, C. heraclefolia 'China Purple' is a 30" tall woody clematis from China with stunning dark blue flowers and trifoliate leaves.

If you are searching for a continuous blooming rose, check out the Knock Out RoseTM which is a compact, winter hardy shrub rose that matures to a 3' x 3' plant. It is resistant to black spot,  drought tolerant and blooms in spring, summer and fall. Or for a hydrangea that blooms on new and old wood, try 'Endless Summer'. It's 8-inch mophead flower clusters bloom from summer until fall on 5' x 4' vigorous shrubs that are both heat and humidity tolerant.

While browsing their large selection of pots, trellises and garden ornaments, ask about Seneca's Midnight Madness Sale in July. It is the only nursery in the area that promotes a moonlight event for gardeners, so come dressed in your P.J.'s and get an extra discount!

For an energy boost, take a break at Alton's Restaurant across the street from Seneca Greenhouse. They have a wide selection of good eats including breakfast, lunch, dinner and even late night snacks. They are open until 11PM.

Next on our list of nurseries is Boldt's Evergreen Farm, a family owned business that grows both evergreen and deciduous trees on 37 acres of land. The majority of their business is wholesale to landscapers, but Boldt's also sells to the retail customer. I was most impressed by their quantity of healthy, bountiful hanging baskets distributed throughout their ten greenhouses. Both the lantana and the Dragon WingTM begonias that I purchased were healthy and floriferous right into October. My friend Elaine bought several hanging baskets of portulacas (a couple for her own garden and a basket for each of her daughters). Boldt's also grows primroses, geraniums ('Watermelon' and 'Peach' were real showstoppers), fuschias, New Guinea impatiens, double impatiens, herbs and clematis. And if you love houseplants and tropicals, peruse the ferns, rubber trees, pepperomia, mini-variegated ficus, and peace lilies, to mention only a few.

Follow the map to Lisa's Greenhouses where dinnerplate-sized dahlias are sold in 10" pots; hanging baskets of calibrochea in every imaginable color dangle from above; and the black-eyed susan vines (Thunbergia 'Smoothie Apricot') scramble up to the sky. We also discovered large pots of bamboo, mixed flats of coleus, fragrant mandevilla vines, and Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Kong' sold in gallon pots. In addition to numerous specialty annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, patio pots and herbs, Lisa's also features the unique, high performing Proven Winners plants. For container combination ideas and new Proven Winners introductions for Spring 2006, check out http://www.provenwinners.com.

Lisa's offers several gardening classes throughout the season, so take a break from your own gardening chores and learn something new. Check the Upstate Gardener's Journal Calendar for dates and times.

Stop in at Murray Brothers for miniature daylilies and hostas. I could not resist Hemerocallis 'Penny Earned', a miniature daylily with 1/4-inch wide leaves that grow to about 8-inches long. 'Penny Earned' is classified as a reblooming daylily since it blooms for about three weeks, takes a rest for a couple weeks, then blooms again. The reblooming will last until frost, depending on the amount of moisture the plant receives. This cutie starts flowering in late May or early June and produces a light yellow inflorescence that ages to a pale orange. It prefers sun to partial shade and ample moisture.

Be sure to wander through the collection of shrubs, shade trees, evergreens, perennials, ornamental grasses and herbs. I discovered the 'Golden Spirit' Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot') to add to my collection. It is a deciduous shrub with lime green foliage that matures to brilliant gold with frothy blossoms of whitish-pink flowers in summer. It's fall color is spectacular changing to coral, orange and red. It prefers sun to partial shade and moist, well drained soil.

At Murray Brother's you can also find fountains and statuary, garden supplies, flagstone, and a floral shoppe. Design and landscaping services are available as well.

Heading south on Transit Road, watch for a sign on the left hand side of the road, almost one mile from Murray Brother's Nurseries and Garden Center. If you are a hosta lover and /or collector, this is the place for you! Jerry and Ruth Murray have put together quite a display garden of over 354 varieties of hostas, all growing in the ground, complete with labels.

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by Jerry who offers you a clipboard with four typewritten pages cataloging all the hostas in his collection. Each hosta is listed with a description, size, flower color and cost. As you wander through the garden, check off your favorites. You may also want to read the last page of the handout which offers suggestions for hosta use. A list is given for sun tolerant, slug resistant, fragrant, dwarf, ground cover and giant hosta varieties.

Jerry, who started Murray Brother's fifty years ago, decided to retire and turn the garden centre over to his six sons who are all in the business. With hostas becoming quite appealing to the shade gardener, he decided to order a dozen from a catalog. Since then, according to Jerry, "he's never worked so hard in his life!" He guides tours through the garden every Saturday morning at 10:30AM. Plan about one hour and fifteen minutes for the tour and call ahead to reserve a space. On the tour, you will learn hosta facts, a bit of history and discuss the  future of this versatile plant.

This year, I added 'Pandora's Box' to my miniature collection. It flaunts a dark green leaf margin with white center and lavender flowers. It looks lovely with 'Baby Buntings' (a neat green 6" mound with lavender flowers) and 'Twist of Lime' (a small yellow-leaved hosta with dark green margins and lavender flowers). I also added 'Leather Sheen' (small, dark green, glossy, lance-shaped leaves with purple flowers) and 'Stained Glass' (large, brilliant gold-centered foliage with a one inch wide green margin and white fragrant flowers).

A few of my favorites from previous year's purchases include 'Nigrescens' (an upright, large hosta with shiny glaucous green foliage and white flowers), 'Blue Angel' (a large deep blue-green hosta with white flowers), 'Love Pat' (quilted, very blue foliage and lavender flowers) and 'September Sun' (foliage with deep yellow centers and green edges with lavender flowers). Growing hostas is easy, but selecting which to grow is not so easy at this unique display garden. You will want to take them all home!

Next, follow the map to Lockwoods Greenhouses where many large, mixed pots and bowls of colorful annuals and perennials greet you near the front door. Both purple and white tree-form wisteria climbed curvaceously while tidy, compact Knock OutTM Roses in shades of red, pink and blush clamor for attention. Several varieties of hydrangea including 'Lady in Red' (rosy lacecap flowerheads dancing above red-veined leaves), 'Glowing Embers' (crimson flowerheads eight inches across turning purple with age) and 'Endless Summer' (pink or blue giant blooms on old and new wood) reveal their lush, large foliage. 

Just inside the door, you will find a variety of garden products including gloves, hats, pots, birdhouses, statuary, windchimes, and watering cans. Treat yourself to fresh basil, ginger milk, eucalyptus or lavender lotions, soaps and candles by The Thymes. Check out their selection of enormous containers to add drama; pots in glazes of blue, wine and russet; cast iron containers, birdbaths and roosters in an aged white finish.

As you stroll throughout the greenhouses and grounds, some interesting plants you may not see elsewhere are fancy leaved geraniums and variegated-leaf lantana. Many plectranthus varieties including 'Mona Lavender' (upright purple racemes and dark green, glossy foliage with purple undersides), 'Zulu Wonder' (vigorous grower with lavender-blue flowers), and P. ciliatis (burgundy stems supporting lavender flower spikes) are great mixers for pots paired with coleus, a close relative. For a moist area of the perennial garden, try Petacites palmatus 'Golden Palms' which is an excellent yellow foliage plant that needs full sun to provide the best color.

Add to your shrub garden with a deciduous, upright ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius Diablo®) which displays white flowers in late spring and purplish-red foliage throughout the season. It will grow 8-10 feet tall in full sun. A smaller cultivar 'Summer Wine' (Physocarpus opulifolius Summer Wine®) is more dense and compact growing to only 4 or 5 feet tall. It's red-wine colored, deeply cut foliage will contrast nicely with yellow or bright green plants and is the perfect backdrop for its white button-like blooms in the spring. For a magical mixture of red and purple hues in autumn, try black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa 'Autumn Magic'). It's glossy green leaves are blanketed with white flowers in spring followed by black berries, which are a great treat for the birds.

Lockwood's specializes in flowering plants including perennials, annuals, tropicals, mixed containers and specialty shrubs. They also offer classes in growing roses; creating large container plantings; designing herbal planters; and perennial garden renovation. Visit www.lockwoodsgreenhouses.com/ for dates and times.   

Before traveling to the next nursery, we stopped in at Braymiller Market, Inc. for a root beer float. Braymiller's has been in business for about 68 years initially starting out as a small roadside fresh fruit and vegetable stand. Today, not only does it offer fresh produce, but also gourmet grocery items, a NY style deli with homemade pasta and potato salads, olives, cheeses, and deli meats. Freshly made sandwiches, soups, chili and lunch specials are a treat. Beautiful hand packed fruit baskets and in-season vegetable baskets are customized and are available for delivery. Braymiller's offers the freshest produce, delivered directly from the farmers fields throughout the summer and fall. And during the winter and spring, produce is shipped from all over the US and Europe. 

Next, we visit Garden Sensations Garden Center & Wholesale Nursery, which is celebrating their 6th year in business. Some creative items that caught my eye were the "salad bowls" growing a mix of chives, 3 or 4 varieties of lettuce, arugala, and parsley; hanging wall bags of lamium and impatiens (this combination is spectacular); variegated morning glories; and old sneakers and boots filled with succulents.

In addition to being one of the area's largest growers of perennials, they also offer many varieties of vegetable transplants including specialty salad greens. Large hanging baskets, potted premium annuals, bedding flats, herbs, memorial pots and mixed patio pots entice every shopper. Watch for weekly specials, as well as, season-long bargains for gardeners on a tight budget. 

Garden Sensations offers the anxious gardener a taste of what is to come in early spring with pansies. No need to wait until the ground thaws – add a bright colored bowl or pastel colored pot of pansies to embellish your doorway or porch. Attend the 25¢ Perennial Sale in April (in rain or shine, or should I say..sleet or snow) and select from over 30 varieties and 100,000 plants. This sale goes on for 3 days and the event usually sells out. It is on a first come, first served basis (no fighting please) and plants are sold in packs of 4.

Collect 'Pansy Bucks' from April through August (one buck for every $10 spent) and redeem them at the Pansy Festival in September. These bucks can be used to purchase any fall containers, bulbs, mums, harvest bowls, perennials or more pansies.

Nearing 7 PM and overloaded with jewels, we decided to head home and divvy up our riches. Just in case you still have room for more garden greenery, six additional nursuries are included on the map. Then, let me know about your interesting 'finds' (cloneill@adelphia.net).  I promise not to whimper over all the plants that I could have had! 

Printed in the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal, May-June 2006


Bengert Greenhouses

230 French Road

West Seneca, New York 14224

716-823-6114   (1 minute to #2)


Rudolph Galley

2722 Clinton

West Seneca, New York 14224


(1 minute to #3)


Earsing's Green House

3065 Clinton

West Seneca, New York 14224

716-826-5025   (8 minutes to #4)


Seneca Greenhouse

2250 Transit Road

West Seneca, New York 14224

716-677-0681   (6 minutes to #5)


Alton's Restaurant

(across the street from Seneca)


Boldt's Evergreen Farm, Inc.

413 Transit Road

Orchard Park, New York 14127

716-662-3713   (3 minutes to #6)


Lisa's Greenhouse

316 Stoney Brook Road

Orchard Park, New York 14127

716-655-2232   (3 minutes to #7)


Murray Brothers Nurseries, Inc.

4399 Transit Road

Orchard Park, New York 14127

716-662-3860   (1 minute to #8)


Murray Brothers Nurseries, Inc.

(Hosta Man) Show Gardens

4735 Transit Road

Orchard Park, New York 14127

716-662-9984   (13 minutes #9)


Lockwood's Greenhouse

4484 Clark Street

Hamburg, New York 14075

716-649-4684   (9 minutes to #B)


Braymiller Market, Inc.

(2 minutes to Garden Sensations)


Garden Sensations

7003 Gowanda State Road

Hamburg, New York 14075

716-649-4482   (10 minutes to #11)


Gullo's Garden Center & Nursery

4767 Southwestern Blvd

Hamburg, New York 14075

716-646-6111   (2 minutes to #12)


Zittle's Country Market

4415 Southwestern Blvd

Hamburg, New York 14075

716-649-3010   (1 minute to #13)


7 Corners Garden Center

4449 Big Tree Road

Blasdel, New York 14219

716-648-1890   (1 minute to #14)


Stedman's Old Farm Nurseries

4090 Southwestern Blvd

Orchard Park, New York 14127

716-648-1734  (6 minutes to #15)


Orchard Park & Gardens

2924 Southwestern Blvd

Orchard Park, New York 14127

716-675-4888   (1 minute to #16)


Seasonal Landscaping & Nursery

2240 Southwestern Blvd

West Seneca, New York 14224


Something is always blooming at Galley's. Here, cyclamen in shades of red, magenta and white steal the show

Mary Ann Earsing

creates colorful

vignettes with

plants and

'found' objects

A creative petunia tree at Lisa’s

A birdbath is a great place to grow water hyacinths and water lettuce from Rudolph Galley