May 22, 2024


Amazing design, nonpareil

Outdoor spaces: A garden hideaway in the Village of Hamburg | Lifestyles: Food, Home, Health


From the DIY deck to the trickling fountain, most everything in the Village of Hamburg garden of Sue and Greg Jantzi has a story.

Greg Jantzi not only built the deck, but he designed it around a towering pin oak tree that shades this sitting area.

Sue Jantzi made the multitiered garden fountain off the deck using large rhubarb leaves, sand and cement mix, following online tutorials on how to make concrete leaves for the project. Her husband then rigged up the fountain.

And the wall of colorful bottles? That was an at-home project for the couple during the pandemic.

Sue Jantzi, a registered nurse who works part time at Buffalo General Hospital, has been a lifelong gardener.

Sue Jantzi

Sue Jantzi on the deck in her backyard.

“My mom had such a green thumb,” said Jantzi, who organizes Hamburg’s Hometown Heroes Banner Project honoring members of the armed forces with banners in the village.

But, like many other gardeners, Jantzi continues to experiment with different plants (sedum is a current favorite) and do more and more in her garden each season.

She has found great success with the coleus planted in the front window boxes, for example. “They get massive by September,” she said.

Greg Jantzi, who retired as owner of Hamburg Automotive Supply (NAPA) in Hamburg, has skills in woodworking, welding, and – true to Western New York’s quirky gardening style – scouting out and dragging home items such as discarded ladders found at the curb and driftwood from Hamburg Beach – to incorporate into the garden.

Ladder trellis

Old ladders make a trellis where a climbing hydrangea is starting to grow. 

Their garden will be on the Buzz Around Hamburg Garden Walk July 9 and 10. (See below for details and a list of other garden walks and tours happening that weekend.)

The couple moved into the house in 1980, where they raised their three children – now ages 33 to 37. They kept the backyard more open back then so that the children could run back and forth to play with the neighboring kids.

It’s much more private now. While quite shady, there are beds in the back that get some morning and afternoon sun so there is an assortment of perennials, including some that bloom in the spring. One section features soon-to-bloom phlox in purple, pink and white bordered by an old bed frame.

As for the mass of multicolored phlox within the frame, “I like to make it look like a bedspread,” she said.

While the garden features many perennials – including more than 50 varieties of hostas she divides and shares with friends – she chooses annuals for her pots. On one side of the house, she has potted geraniums she overwinters.

“I leave them in their pots; they have good soil in them. I put them in the garage because it’s partially heated. I cover them up and totally ignore them all winter. Around Feb. 1, I take them out of the garage, cut them back to about 6 inches, add some new soil, put them in my bay window and start fertilizing. My mom did that every year,” she said.

Water fountain

The couple made the water fountain.

An arbor on the cement block pathway installed by Greg Jantzi is totally covered with climbing hydrangea. Sue Jantzi said she planted two on either side of the arbor and it took about eight years for them to meet in the middle.

The couple extended the arbor across the deck using an old discarded ladder. They placed it horizontally, hoping the climbing hydrangea, which doesn’t mind shade, continues to grow across it. Patio lights illuminate this area as well.

An unexpected addition to the garden is a miniature wraparound treehouse Greg Jantzi built a couple of years ago in his woodshop in the garage. It is displayed on a large ash tree that is surrounded by hostas in the middle of the backyard, and includes children miniatures standing on the treehouse porch.

It was a surprise birthday gift for his wife. “I had no idea that he was making it,” she said.

Garden walks and tours scheduled July 8-10

You’ll need a map so check out where and when they will be available. The maps and events are free (a donation may be suggested) and held rain or shine. Keep an eye on websites and Facebook for more details and any updates.

Buzz Around Hamburg Garden Walk. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 and 10. Maps and garden-themed vendor sale on tour days at Memorial Park, Lake and Union streets. See and Facebook.

North Tonawanda Garden Walk. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 9 and 10. Maps on tour days at Carnegie Art Center, 240 Goundry St. See, Facebook and Instagram.

Lockport in Bloom. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 and 10. Evening tour from 7 to 10 p.m. July 8. Maps on tour days at the Kenan Center, 433 Locust St., and various businesses ahead of time. See Facebook and Instagram.

Springville Concord Garden Walk. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9. Pick up booklets, map of gardens and raffle tickets on the side lawn of Town Hall, 86 Franklin St., corner of Mechanic Street. A plant sale also is planned. See Facebook.

Snyder-CleveHill Garden View. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 10. Tour-day headquarters with maps is in front of Trillium’s Courtyard Florist, 2195 Kensington Ave., Snyder. A $2 donation is suggested. See Facebook.

Amherst Garden Walk. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 and 10. Maps will be available after July 1 at Amherst area garden centers and on tour days at 111 Campus Drive West, Snyder. Maps also will be posted on Facebook.

In addition to these weekend tours, check out for other events, including Open Gardens. This is the chance to view residential gardens in Erie and Niagara counties during select hours on Thursdays and Fridays in July. A “Tours of Open Gardens and Garden Event Guide” can by purchased for $10 at garden centers and nurseries listed on the Gardens Buffalo Niagara website. Visit the website for more details (including information on an Open Gardens app) – and for the lineup of this summer’s other garden walks and tours throughout the region.


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