Local Couple Builds Out Unique Buffalo-Style Garden
Photographer / Amy Payne
Close to the busy corner of 116th Street and Brooks School Road in Fishers, a hidden buffalo garden is flourishing. Tucked away in the backyard of a home owned by Ray and Noreen Pomerleau in the Sandstone Village neighborhood, the garden sits alongside a neighborhood pond. The inspiration for the garden stems from Ray’s lifelong love of cultivating flowers, and the urban gardens of Noreen’s hometown of Buffalo, New York.
In December of 2018, after retiring from a 50-year career working for Monsanto and Butler-MacDonald as a plastics engineer, Ray took classes from Purdue University and became a certified master gardener. The following summer, the couple attended the annual Garden Walk Buffalo self-guided garden tour event in New York, where they viewed hundreds of gardens. Upon returning home, Ray used his knowledge and expertise to build and design a Buffalo-style garden as a gift to Noreen.
“Every year we go back to visit Buffalo because of Garden Walk Buffalo, an event where residents open their yards and grounds to the public,” Noreen says. “These unique urban gardens have creative, quirky art, beautiful flowers, and plants that bring the homeowners’ personalities to their gardens. It began in 1995 with 29 gardens, and now there are 450 homes that participate. This year they were expecting over 65,000 visitors, but unfortunately, it was canceled due to COVID-19.”
Constructing a winding pathway and installing varied plantings was a labor of love for Ray.
“With Ray’s knowledge of flowers, and my love of antiques and unique art, we created a Buffalo garden right here in Fishers,” Noreen says. “All the gardens in Buffalo have a story and so do we. Some of the art came from antique stores, some from garden shops. Ray built me a zen garden within this garden, and it has become a focal point.”
Work on the garden began in August of 2019 when flowering shrubs and hostas were planted. Later, 3,200 pounds of pea gravel was put down. The garden was completed this spring.
“Everything is balanced – you could cut spaces in half and there would be one of everything on each side,” Ray says. “I planned it out by looking at the sun pattern. Most everything is a perennial and consciously planted for highs, lows and texture. The blooms come in peaks and valleys, and there is something flowering well into October. This year, we will see what works and what doesn’t.”
During the spring, summer and into fall, colorful blooms are always evident. Early in the season this year, one plant sported pineapple-shaped flowers that were actually clusters of little yellow florets. Within the space are charming structures including an antique Victorian flower cart, a bubbling fountain and even a magical gnome or two.
“There is upkeep,” Ray says. “It takes two hours to fully water the garden, which I do every day unless it rains. Rosebushes need attention and dead blooms need to be cut off. After it frosts in the fall, plants need to be cut back. I would love to see the community of Fishers sponsor a garden walk here. It’s a great chance to meet people with common interests.”