by Susan Braun

What better way to celebrate the first day of spring on March 20th than to attend the opening of the Botanical Garden’s annual Spring Flower Show on the very day? The show will include thousands of colorful spring bulbs and plants. Come feast your eyes on and breathe in the fragrance of tulips, daffodils, hydrangeas, crocuses, primroses, and hyacinths. Admission to the flower show also includes a visit with the Easter Bunny on selected days and admission to Farmer Brown’s Petting Zoo where you can see baby chicks, lambs, rabbits, and goats. This year the Botanical Gardens will be open from 10 to 5 every day and on April 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, they’ll remain open until 8pm.

Some special events are scheduled in conjunction with the Spring Flower Show. M & T Bank is sponsoring the Dress Your Easter Best Weekend and Contest April 2-4, the annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 3rd and Dollar Admission Day on April 11th.

For a preview of the Spring Flower Show, consider attending Paradise under Glass on March 19th between 6 and 9pm. Wear your tropical finest, listen to great music and munch on food from a variety of well-known Buffalo restaurants. Beer and wine will also be available.

For more information about all of these events, visit www.buffalogardens.com or call 716.827.1584 x 305.

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by Karen Huefner

olv-exteriorWhatever your religious denomination, Our Lady of Victory Basilica is truly beyond a justifiable description that encapsulates all of its beauty, history, and grandour. Having just visited the Basilica this past Sunday, I could go on and on about the impeccable Italian marble or the close to 2,000 angels seen inside and out but the story behind Our Lady of Victory Basilica is what gives it its’ true beauty. OLV’s history starts with one man, Father Nelson Baker.

Although Father Baker was 79 years old in 1921, he was still a visionary with great dreams. At a routine parish meeting, the humble priest shocked all in attendance as he unveiled ambitious plans for a shrine that would rival any within the U.S. Astounding all with his infectious vigor, construction was begun almost immediately.

Even with no money set aside, Father Baker was confident support would soon come. The “Padre of the Poor” sent out a call of support and it was answered by thousands of citizens from around the nation. Some contributed through Father Baker’s direct-mail fundraising club (via per-brick sponsorships of $10), while countless others sent offerings both large and small.

By late 1925, construction was completed and the first Mass was held there on Christmas Day. Amazingly, when it opened, the Basilica had no debt, having been completely paid for at a cost of $3.2 million. In 1926, an even higher honor was bestowed upon the shrine as it was officially designated a Minor Basilica.

In July 1998, Msgr. Robert Wurtz, pastor of OLV Parish announced that the remains of Father Baker would be transferred from a nearby cemetery into OLV Basilica. The move would help raise awareness of Father Baker, his mission, and his legacy. Today, the Basilica continues to draw close to 2,000 visitors every month. The future will no doubt hold even more promise, as Father Baker advances down the long Path to Sainthood.

Tours are offered every Sunday at 1pm; or call for special arrangements. Visit their website at www.ourladyofvictory.org. While in Lackawanna, plan a stop at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, too.

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botanicalgardensby Karen Huefner

It’s February so let’s face it, it’s still a little crisp outside when you live in Buffalo but to the running community, temperature is rarely a deterrent for an opportunity to lace up your Nikes and hit the pavement.  With the Botanical Garden’s “Dash for the Dome” being the first race of my life, and therefore not classifying myself as a member of any “running community”, I was a little nervous about looping South Buffalo’s South Park in a 5k race in 30 degree temperatures.  But after 30 minutes and 57 seconds (and one harmless blister) later, the race was over.

Post party festivities took place right inside Buffalo’s Botanical Gardens and so starts my inspiration for this post.  The Botanical Gardens truly is a gem for this community.  No matter what the temperature outside, inside the mercury never dips below 72 degrees.  The plants inside are arranged in classic Victorian style and similar plants from throughout the world are grouped together. Although there are some plants native to our temperate region, most of the plants call the tropical regions of the world their home.  The Rainforest Garden, which includes its own Koi fish pond, along with the Dinosaur Garden are my favorite areas to explore.

While the Gardens are open 10am-5pm 363 days of the year, you might want to consider planning your trip around their annual Spring Flower Show in April or their Poinsettia show in December.  Granted the Gardens boasts numerous events throughout the year, but these two standout at the top of my list.

So get out there to stop and smell the roses….or orchids….or daffodils….or bonsai tree?