The Flower in Flower City

There is a community in New York that is growing in more ways than one. The plant community in Western New York is a large society of people whose education, hobbies, and careers revolve around botanicals, gardening, trees, weeds—basically if it goes through photosynthesis, there’s a group of people who celebrate it.

“I love native plants,” Kimberly Burkard, managing editor and contributing writer of Upstate Gardener’s Journal magazine. “So I can’t tell you every little thing about the newest hot begonia out there but I can tell you more about the native plants. People kind of pick their own little groups in gardening, whether it’s trees, orchids or roses. Roses are huge, they tend to be something that will have their own subgroups.”

Burkard writes the Conversation section in the Upstate Gardeners Journal. This section covers invasive species in the region that are harming native plants—plants that occur naturally in the place where it evolved.  The one-paragraph entry warns readers about the invasion and the damage it may cause as well as provide resources for the reader to help native plants that are being effecting.

“Gardening has changed over the years, people would only plant annuals. Now people are starting to try and put in things for wildlife like butterflies and birds. So you got a lot of people that are focusing on native plants and things like that. So gardening kind of keeps up with our times. It could be a little slower to keep up but it does,” said Burkard.

Upstate Gardener’s Journal Magazine has been in print since 1995.

The many niches and subgroups in the gardening community typically include their own clubs, societies, and events. From the Finger Lakes Daylily Society to the Niagara Frontier Koi and Pond Club, there’s an opportunity for every outdoor enthusiast to fit in.

“I’m in a few [gardening clubs],” said Jane Milliman, the publisher and editor of Upstate Gardener’s Journal. “Rochester Garden Club, which is ladies who lunch basically. North American Rock Garden Society, which is very geeky and only enthusiasts belong, and American Horticultural Society, which produces a fabulous magazine that’s always packed with good information.”

Milliman used to work in a greenhouse while she started publishing the Upstate Gardener’s Journal magazine. For being such a plant enthusiast, she doesn’t seem to spend much money purchasing them. Milliman’s office is covered in rescue plants, but she’s particularly keen to orchids, although the flower seems to have chosen her.

“One time I found one in the dumpster, so I posted on Facebook about if you’re in my building, you don’t have to walk all the way to the dumpster to discard an orchid—just leave it on the steps going up to the second floor. A day or two later there was a new orchid on the steps,” said Milliman.

The orchid Jane Milliman rescued from the dumpster. Photo courtesy of (585)mag Instagram.

Even if one isn’t quite a plant ‘enthusiast’ it’s hard not to be curious of the beautiful things produced by mother nature. The variety of clubs and societies in our region allows the opportunity for events such as LotusFest or GardenScape to invite people, who may be curious, to talk too and learn from experts about getting started.  

“You can buy flowers, supplies, and normally they have speakers that will talk at the events. They might tell you what’s new on the market, they might tell you how to care for your orchid, and some of the events will have different potting services,” said Burkard.

The Finger Lakes region flourishes with a wide variety of native flowers, trees, foliage, and people who celebrate those flowers, trees, and foliage. Most garden stores and clubs are full of plantsmen who want to share their passion to anyone interested in learning how to take care and grow just about anything that requires some water and sun.



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