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Gardening and More: Buzz Around Hamburg opens Haberman garden to the public

Ken and Shirley Haberman open their garden during Buzz Around Hamburg on Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13.
If you visited the gardens of Ken and Shirley Haberman during last year’s Buzz Around Hamburg, your experience will be different when you visit it this year. Because of our long, cold winter and spring, all the plants are late this year.

That’s not a bad thing— flowers that you missed last year because they were already finished blooming before the garden walk should still be in bloom during the garden walk this year.

You can see the Haberman’s large and eclectic landscape at 39 West Ave., Hamburg, during Buzz Around Hamburg. The free, self guided garden walk in the village of Hamburg will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13. Map guides will be available at the Memorial Park bandstand, located at the corner of Lake and Union streets. Garden vendors will be in the park both days.

Buzz Around Hamburg is one of the 14 garden walks that are part of the National Garden Festival.

The Habermans have lived in their home since 1969 and their landscape has evolved over the years.

“People always ask how long this garden has been here,” Ken said. “This garden hasn’t been here, as it is, until recently. It’s a case of building one thing after another.”

At one time, the yard featured a pool for the Haberman’s children and lots of fruit and vegetable plants. The pool is now gone and the vegetables are tucked way in back behind the greenhouse. The flowers have taken center stage.

Plants get larger from year to year, and that necessitates changes, too. One of the ponds was removed this year because the shrubs surrounding it were encroaching. A fountain now takes its place.

Each year the Habermans choose a theme for their garden and this year it was Shirley’s turn to choose the theme and she picked “Caribbean Thoughts,” inspired by a recent trip through the Panama Canal. You’ll see bougainvillea and hibiscus, and Shirley will bring out some of the orchid plants she grows indoors to display in the garden. The couple will play a recording of a steel drum band they bought on their trip.

Ken, 88, has a background in horticulture, he spent 20 years as a florist, then worked as the head gardener at the Erie County Medical Center before retiring about 20 years ago.

Shirley, who has a background in home economics, worked at what is now Erie County Social Services teaching people how to budget and prepare food for their families. She then managed the cafeteria at Hamburg High School for 20 years.

Because they’re both retired, they have more time to spend on their landscape. They’re in their garden for as long as six or eight hours every day, and even longer when it’s time to plant.

But don’t feel that you need to devote that much time to your garden.

“Start out small,” Shirley suggested, “and just keep adding if you have space and the interest. Everybody’s got to start somewhere.”

You can also view the Haberman’s garden on Open Gardens from 6 to 9 p.m., Thursdays through July 31. The Habermans even schedule private tours for garden clubs and other groups.

“We have people come all summer long,” Shirley said, and they get hundreds of people touring their property.

“One of the joys of the garden walk is meeting people,” Ken said. “You meet some wonderful people.”

Whether you want to get inspiration and advice for your garden or just want to meet some friendly gardeners, make sure you visit the gardens on Buzz Around Hamburg.

Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email

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