Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Explore the Beauty of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - Buffalo, NY
The conservatory and botanical gardens were created from the visions of extraordinary men. David F. Day, Frederick Law Olmsted, John F. Cowell, Frederick A. Lord and William A. Burnham of Lord & Burnham Co.. Each of these talented individuals contributed to the inception, design and success of the South Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. In the 1860s David F. Day, a Buffalo city attorney and judge, was charged with drawing up incorporation papers for the City of Buffalo’s Parks Commission. He was passionate about including zoological and botanical collections in the city of Buffalo and, as Parks Commissioner in the late 1800s, he was instrumental in establishing these collections. He continued to support the south park conservatory project with great enthusiasm. Distinguished for his creativity in designing New York City’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Frederick Law Olmsted was called upon by the Buffalo Parks Commission in 1868 to design parks for Buffalo. His unique design included not one but three parks, The Park (Delaware Park), The Parade (Martin Luther King Jr. Park), The Front Park, connecting parkways and circles. As Buffalo expanded, Olmsted was called upon to enlarge the park system by adding additional parks including Cazenovia Park and South Park. South Park was constructed between the years of 1894-1900 from 156 acres of farmland.
Olmsted’s final design of South Park included 11.4 acres for a conservatory and surrounding formal gardens. In 1894, Professor John F. Cowell was appointed as the first Director of the conservatory and to oversee plantings in South Park. He was considered a genius in botany and horticulture and his passion was deep rooted in his mission to expand and diversify the soon to be park and conservatory’s collections. He gathered plants, trees and flowers from every corner of the world and his expertise and guidance allowed for many successful years for the conservatory. While South Park was being constructed, Lord & Burnham Co. was busy designing the South Park Conservatory. The design was modeled after the beautiful Crystal Palace at Kew Gardens in England and was built by a Buffalo construction company, George P. Wurtz & Son for a total cost of $130,000. Upon opening in 1900, the conservatory was the third largest public greenhouse in the United States and was ranked as the ninth largest in the world.
In 1980 Erie County purchased the conservatory and 11.4 surrounding acres within South Park from the City of Buffalo for $1. This called for a name change, thus creating the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. In 1982 the Botanical Gardens was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the New York State Register of Historic Places. In 1986, the Society became a member of the Museum Education Consortium of Buffalo to further its focus on education and community outreach.
With 13 full-time employees, eight part-time employees, over 250 active volunteers and a dynamic board of directors, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society is thriving! Today, nearly 100,000 people annually visit the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens to enjoy the amazing architecture, and the indoor and outdoor garden sanctuaries. It is a gathering place where visitors can find peace and harmony and enjoy the simple power of the natural world. Some visitors also see it as a place for spiritual healing, meditation and reflection. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society’s mission is dedicated to advancing appreciation for and knowledge of plant life and its connection to people and cultures through its documented living plant collection, historic conservatory, education, research and exhibits. Its’ vision is to move toward a future where the lives of people of all ages are enriched by living plants of all kinds, and they are committed to sustaining the wonders of Earth’s natural systems to ensure diverse plant life for future generations.
With 13 full-time employees, eight part-time employees, over 250 active volunteers and a dynamic board of directors, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society is thriving! Today, nearly 100,000 people annually visit the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens to enjoy the amazing architecture, and the indoor and outdoor garden sanctuaries.
“It is a great honor to be selected as a Proven Winners Signature Garden. That designation combined with the Gardens’ spectacular collection and its recognition as a national architectural and historical treasure make for a fitting collaboration. Visitors to the Gardens will have a spectacular botanical experience in the conservatory and from its newly designed outdoor garden. Thank you Proven Winners.” David Swarts, President/CEO
“We are honored to work with such a quality brand as Proven Winners. We have long had visions of changing and improving our welcome gardens and a partnership with Proven Winners will bring our gardens up to a standard that our visitors have grown to anticipate. Proven Winner’s professional staff and national resources will expose our guests to exciting and new plants in a creative and colorful way!” Erin Grajek, Associate Vice President of Marketing & Visitor Experience
“The horticulture staff is extremely excited about the signature garden experience here at our garden. I cannot think of a more deserving space for a display of your incredibly beautiful plant material than our entrance walkway. The opportunity to design and create a garden showcasing the Proven Winners products will greatly enhance the visual appeal of our facility in every season and for decades to come. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Proven Winners. I thank you and look forward to making this the best it can be.” Jeff Thompson, Director of Horticulture