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Gardening & More: Learn from area gardeners, during Buzz Around Hamburg

QUIET SPACE — Marg and Dave Rust have shady and sunny garden beds in their Hamburg yard. You can see them on the Buzz Around Hamburg garden walk from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14.
SPRINGVILLE — Many of us struggle with clay in our soil. Marg Rust’s home, located at 71 Rosedale Ave. in Hamburg, is near a creek and was mostly clay. She and her husband Dave would mix a truckload of topsoil into the garden, but with all that clay, the garden soil just hardened up again.

Marg Rust solved the problem by building raised beds.

Learn from other area gardeners, who have gardens like yours or who have the kind of garden you wish you had, during the Buzz Around Hamburg garden walk, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Grab a map at the Memorial Park bandstand, at the corner of Lake and Union Streets in Hamburg. Coupons for village restaurants and businesses will be included, in that brochure. A vendor fair will be held at Memorial Park, on both days.

Rust was on the walk’s organizing committee and suggested that participants use a bike, to get around to all the gardens.

The gardener said she attained most of her gardening knowledge through trial and error, but she has some tips for other gardeners.

Cultivate good soil. In addition to making her own compost, Rust uses worm dirt from a nearby bait shop. The shop gets deliveries of worms packed in dirt and the leftover dirt is full of worm castings, the end product of the breakdown of organic matter by a worm, which are good for the soil.

Also, always read plant tags. “If the tag says the plant needs more than 4 hours of sun or well-drained soil, there’s a reason why,” Rust said. She had a Lenten rose that struggled, until she finally placed it in the right spot.

“You can’t make a plant love it somewhere where it doesn’t want to be,” she said.

The Rusts’ yard sports many trees. When I visited, in the middle of June, their dogwood was covered with white blooms and a purple robe locust had just finished blooming. It gets beautiful, wisteria-like flowers at that in-between time, when you need some color.

The yard also has a sycamore which will get interesting, peeling greenish bark.

With many shady spots in her yard, Marg Rust used to be a big fan of impatiens. As I have explained before, the downy mildew blight is attacking impatiens.

So, did she plant impatiens this year? “No. Absolutely not,” said the master gardener, who recently handled a hotline call from a gardener who thought he could protect his impatiens from downy mildew by planting them in a pot, instead of the ground.

Rust said that she knows she has downy mildew in her yard because, last year, the blight suddenly reduced her impatiens to stalks. As an alternative to impatiens, she chose begonias this year.

“You have to kind of make do with alternates,” she said. “It’s not the same look as impatiens. I almost like them better.”

She also uses coleus to give her shady gardens color, after the columbine and bleeding heart are done.

Marg and Dave Rust have lived in their home for more than 30 years. There wasn’t much there, when they started, but their gardens have since evolved.

“My favorite time is the morning and night,” Marg Rust said. “That’s when you get the filtered sun reflected off the pond. It’s so peaceful. It’s good for the psyche and the soul, to surround yourself with things that are beautiful.”

She pointed out a papyrus plant in the pond, which has a spiky ball at the top of a long stalk. It will grow 6 feet tall.

“At the end of the day, it seems to glow,” she said.

I visited in the afternoon, when the sun is harshest, and the yard was still a beautiful refuge.

Rust, a retired teacher, organizes all the garden walks for the National Garden Festival. Her gardens can also be seen on the Open Gardens of the National Garden Festival.

Visit the gardens on Buzz Around Hamburg’s garden walk and get ideas that you can use, in your own garden.

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

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