Saturday, July 19, 2014

Canandaigua Main Street Streetscape Tour

Canandaigua Main Street Streetscape Tour 
 We will meet at Commons Park for a guided tour by
Andrew  Spencer (BME Associates Landscape Architect) and  
Berna Ticonchuk (FLCC Conservation Technician and
.                                         Canandaigua Tree Advisory Board member).   
Learn about how the ‘rain gardens’work and why specific species were selected for the planting sites along Main Street. The Canandaigua Farmers Market will be open 8:30-12:30 behind the east side of Main Street.

 Thanks to BIB Director, Lisa Marie Thompson, for this Press Release:

CANANDAIGUA, NEW YORK –    Community members are invited to learn more about how Canandaigua’s downtown Streetscape rain gardens work and why specific species were selected for planting as part of an upcoming walk sponsored by the Canandaigua Botanical Society.  The walking tour, which is free and open to the public, begins at Commons Park on North Main Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 16
Leading the tour are Andrew Spencer, Landscape Architect, BME Associates; Berna Ticonchuk, Finger Lakes Community College Conservation Technician and Canandaigua Tree Advisory Member; and Laura Ouimette, secretary and treasurer of the Canandaigua Botanical Society. The tour coincides with the popular Canandaigua Farmer’s Market. Open on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Farmer’s Market takes place behind Main Street on the east side.
“The walking tour of downtown Canandaigua will be informative, educational, and a great way for people to learn more about our rain gardens and Streetscape project,” said Lisa Thompson, Downtown Manager, Canandaigua Business Improvement District.  “The project’s unique statewide because we’ve embraced green infrastructure practices and a commitment to lake water quality in an active, downtown environment.”
“We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the City of Canandaigua to see this project through from the initial concept, funding and grant procurement, design, and ultimately construction. This project is a great example of an innovative approach that provides water quality improvements as well as streetscape beautification for the City of Canandaigua,” said Andrew Spencer, Landscape Architect, BME Associates.
The Streetscape Project
The $1.6 million Streetscape project was completed last year in collaboration with the City of Canandaigua and government agencies. In addition to new sidewalks and concrete pavers, the project incorporates green infrastructure, including bio-retention and filtration methods. Nine rain gardens and eight raised plant beds with 40 street trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plantings are situated along Main Street from Antis to Chapin Street. New sidewalks and permeable concrete pavers were also installed. The project represents a total investment of $1.6 million in downtown Canandaigua. 
While many of gardens look ordinary at first glance, they serve an important role in the filtration of storm water and pollutants. Storm water runoff can include pollutants that are harmful to Canandaigua Lake. During the planning stages, project engineers focused on ways to protect Canandaigua Lake by relying on an infrastructure that includes bio-retention filtration methods. The plant materials and irrigation system filters storm water through bio-retention areas, which include soil and plant materials, before it returns to the lake watershed.
About Canandaigua’s Business Improvement District
The Canandaigua Business Improvement District (also known as “the BID”) is a not-for-profit organization created under Article 19A of the New York General Municipal Law to promote, beautify, and improve historical downtown Canandaigua.  More than 100 businesses and 700 employees operate within the BID.  Canandaigua’s downtown is a popular destination for tourists and community members who want to shop, dine, and explore the historical business district.  For more information, visit
About the Canandaigua Botanical Society
This walk is one of 21 events scheduled to celebrate the 140th year of the Canandaigua Botanical Society; the second oldest botanical society in the USA.  The Botanical Society maintains a pictorial journal of events on its website/blog at

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Quick links to 2014 events...

Be sure to scroll down and through "older posts" for:
   Canandaigua  Streetscape Tour
   George Eastman House Gardens
   Zurich Bog parts 1  and 2
   Wild Edibles at Thousand Acre Swamp
   Lagoon Park Restorations
   Maya Hobday Bench Dedication at FLCC Arboretum
   Spring Gardens of Michael Hannen
   Fellenz Family Farm Tour
   Ontario Pathways Bird Walk
   Wildflowers at Pal-Mac.  

Laura Ouimette put together a powerpoint presentation for the Canandaigua Rotary presented on August 14, 2014.  If you are interested in seeing it...please send an email to (Laura hasn't figured out how to make the powerpoint available here at the website.) 

Monday, July 7, 2014

George Eastman House Garden Tour: August 9, 2014

Canandaigua Botanical Society’s
George Eastman House Garden Tour
Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fifteen people gathered on a pleasant sunny day with Landscape Volunteer Mike Bellavia for a fact filled tour of the East Avenue gardens of George Eastman.
George Eastman was born on July 12, 1854 in Waterville, NY to George Washington Eastman and Maria Kilbourn Eastman. (Eastman’s birth home was moved to the Genesee Country Museum).  His father began a business school in Rochester in the early 1840s, although George resided on a farm in Waterville, NY with his mother and two older sisters until 1860 when they moved to Rochester.  George Eastman’s father died in 1962 when George was 8 years old.  George Eastman never married and kept a close relationship to his mother until her death in 1907.

In 1902, George Eastman purchased the last 8.5 acres of the Marvin Culver Farm on East Avenue in Rochester for his new Georgian Revival style mansion (modeled after the Root House on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, NY). Assisted by landscape architect Alling Stephen DeForest and architects J. Foster Warner and William Rutherford Mead, Eastman transformed the farmland into a unique urban estate that functioned both as a working farm and as an elegant floral setting for entertaining.  Because the property lacked sufficient shade, George Eastman had mature shade trees with root balls greater than 6 feet planted while the house was being built.
In 1916, Eastman purchased two additional acres next door where the copper beech tree still stands today but the Ross mansion was torn down.  Stone from the Ross mansion was used in garden walks and walls.  The resulting landscape provided the finishing touches, tailored to Eastman’s needs as well as his character. In addition to spacious lawns, eight flower gardens, and five greenhouses, the estate also featured an orchard, a poultry yard, dairy, vegetable gardens, stables, pastures, a rolling east vista, and a magnificent house. In this way, Eastman was able to enjoy the benefits of life in the country without even leaving the city.

Today’s efforts try to keep the existing property true to the original landscaping that Alling Stephen DeForest planned a century ago.  Features include: Mock Orange, Wisteria, Honeysuckle, and Boston ivy on the house with English ivy kept only as ground cover.  There are Elm tree “look-alikes” along the front circular drive to provide privacy from East Avenue.

Boston Ivy growing up the sides of the George Eastman House
Mike shows us a photograph of the "imported mature shade trees"
Copper Beech from Ross property
Ross copper beech
west garden

Mike told us that George Eastman loved to entertain and would pin an orchid from his gardens onto the female guests.  He also told us about the garage/coach house having a revolving floor to easily accommodate rotating coaches in a confined area.
Wisteria growing on loggia


snow berries
In 1919, unhappy with the sound in his conservatory, Mr. Eastman had the mansion cut in half. The north (rear) section was moved 9 ft. 4 in. north. The cost was $750,000; the project took approximately 3 months, moving 7 hours on one day. The house was moved with horizontal hydraulic jacks on railroad ties with special wheels and tracks.
You may notice the darker colored brick to the left of the second story terrace where the additional 9 feet were added

Ellen Dryden (daughter of Eastman’s sister, and his favorite niece) and her husband, Mr. George Dryden donated the money for the construction of the Dryden Theatre in 1950, in Mr. Eastman’s memory.

Great example of Boston ivy allowed to grow up on the buildings while English ivy (more invasive roots) is contained to only ground covering.
Linden Lane - from parking area to Main Entrance of the George Eastman House Museum

During Eastman's residency at the house between 1905 and 1932, he ordered tens of thousands of bulbs from Holland every year (except 1918, when a wartime coal shortage forced him to close his greenhouses) to decorate his Conservatory. The orders were mostly for tulips, narcissus, and hyacinths for indoor forcing, plus tulips for the outside beds. These bulbs were forced in his on-site greenhouses and transported to the house via underground tunnels.  Eastman's nostalgic annual bulb orders stemmed from a trip he made to Holland in 1890, when he was lured by the tulip fields while bicycling through the countryside. The Dutch Connection continues each year with February displays based on Eastman's original orders placed with Dutch bulb-importing companies.
looking at rock garden from GEH museum entrance
Rock garden on left, northeast copper beech tree center and GEH entrance right
Four Gingko trees grow in the Rock Garden...Three are female with "stinky" fruits
grapes in rock garden - 3 varieties: red, white, and blue
in rock garden looking south east
copper beech on northeast corner
looking north on east lawn
Katsura tree - has a distinct caramelized sugar smell
Katsura tree
Katsura leaves - turn golden in autumn
East lawn facing north - Scholar tree on far right
walking toward "roof garden"
"elevator house"
looking west toward GEH - elevator house on right
These Florentine fountains were believed to be used as water heaters
covered garden to the east of the GEH
Looking west to the GEH from the covered garden - glass walls were removed in the summer months
Roof top garden looking north
Looking towards the front of the GEH from the east lawn

south east corner of the GEH
George Eastman was very philanthropic towards the ARTS, HEALTH, and EDUCATION.  Mike left us with this quote by George Eastman: "What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are."

When Eastman died in 1932, the estate became the University of Rochester’s presidential home until 1947. During this time, the expense of maintaining an urban farmstead proved to be too costly. In 1936, landscape architect Robert Chamberlain was hired to simplify the grounds. The most significant changes were made in the terrace garden. Flower beds and brick walks were taken out and covered with turf. The central sunken lily pool was filled in, and a rectangular reflecting pool was built on top.
In 1947, the University of Rochester transferred the estate to the Board of Trustees of the newly formed George Eastman House, Inc. The house opened to the public as a photography museum in 1949. Gradually the grounds evolved to accommodate this new land use. On the west side of the property, the peony garden and greenhouses gave way to a parking lot. In 1950, the Dryden Theatre was built. The garage (formerly the carriage house), stable, heating plant, yard, and poultry house were converted into gallery space in 1951. The west garden was redesigned by the Museum in the 1960s. The interior beds and walks were replaced by turf with a central octagonal pool surrounded by semi-circular beds of bulbs and annuals.
Landscape preservation and restoration began in 1984 in the west garden and continued between 1987 and 1992 in the terrace, library, and rock gardens. DeForest’s plans, existing historical photographs, correspondence, and invoices were used by garden historians to reconstruct the original gardens and grounds. The Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.
The landscape collection is being carefully restored, conserved, and interpreted for the public by Museum staff, volunteers, and docents as it relates both historically and horticulturally to George Eastman.

The 12.5 acre historic landscape collection comprises lawns, trees, ornamental shrubs, vines, and features four restored/adapted gardens planted with perennials, bulbs, annuals, and ground covers typically grown during Eastman’s residence. Historic architectural elements such as the grape arbor, pergola, sunken oval lily pool, seventeenth-century Venetian wellheads, and garden house are also part of this collection. The George Eastman Collection houses Eastman’s estate photos taken between 1902 and 1932, correspondence, plant lists, and original maps of the property. Past and future landscape preservation and restoration plans are based on these documents.
The terrace garden contains more 90 varieties of perennials with Latin and common name labels. The library garden, an adaptation of Eastman’s cutting garden, contains six bulb varieties, 16 shrub species, six tree varieties, ground cover, and vines. The rock garden is planted with 39 varieties of perennials, six bulb species, three ground covers, and six shrub species among dolomite rocks arranged in scallop-shaped beds. The west garden adaptation currently contains 48 kinds of shrubs, three types of perennials, and an assortment of ground cover.
In spring 1998, the front lawn of the house was rehabilitated to appear the way it did during George Eastman’s time, from 1916 to 1932. The rehabilitation included the planting of 21 varieties of shrubs and 29 trees, a total of seven varieties of trees that stood about 15-feet tall upon planting. Some of these trees will grow as high as 90 feet in about 20 years. While the trees will provide a natural canopy, the house will not be hidden from East Avenue — the plan includes 70 feet of open lawn directly in front of the house.
The front lawn project has been in the works for a decade. In 1988 the Eastman House hired garden historians Gerald and Christine Doell to develop a restoration plan for the gardens and grounds that was based on landscape architect Alling DeForest’s original plans dating between 1902 and 1921. Mr. Eastman worked closely with Mr. DeForest to develop the landscape plans, which called for the planting of shrubs and trees that would provide privacy from the street while allowing a view of the house from East Avenue. Many estates built during this same time period had similar “woodland drive” landscape designs. However, most of the trees from the early 1900s eventually died (many from Dutch Elm disease) and were removed.  Restoration planting plans for the west garden and vista will be implemented in the future.