Docent Graduation 2014

Posted on November 10, 2014 by Erin Grajek | 0 Comments

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens congratulates the 11 members of the 2014 docent class as they set out on their mission of educating Gardens visitors of all ages on the wonders of the plant world.

The ceremony will be held Thursday, November 13th at 11am followed by a potluck lunch. New docents will first participate in a mini-tour led by fellow docents-in-training before graduating from the docent program. The docent graduation is a celebration of their efforts and accomplishments. After this, all 11 graduates will be ready to perform the full duties of a docent here at the Gardens.

Docents are friendly, knowledgeable volunteers who conduct the various educational programs at the Gardens. Docents lead guided tours, hands-on programs for school groups, and much more. Each docent undergoes approximately sixty hours of training over a 10 week period. Thirteen of the Gardens’ current docents served as mentor docents to the new trainees.

Docents must be at least 18 years of age, complete the docent training course and have a passion for gardening and plants. Our next docent training session begins in September of next year.

Economic Impact of Western New York's Not-for-Profit Cultural Industry

Posted on November 07, 2014 by Erin Grajek | 0 Comments

Economic Impact of Western New York's Not-for-Profit Cultural Industry


The not-for-profit cultural sector in Western New York is the subject of many accolades, the producer of many accomplishments, and a key contributor to the region’s resurgence. These things are well-known, yet every once in a while we need to quantify our impact, and so you have before you an economic impact report of both the organizations themselves and their audiences.

A bit of context is important with any report like this. The years focused on are 2009-2013; this was a time period during and immediately following not only a period of economic concern in the community, but also a severe cut in public funding in Erie County. With that in mind, it is easy to understand that many organizations had to cut back in staff and spending. Yet it is also important to note that artistic accomplishment – judged both in total output and quality – remained as high as always and even grew. Further, audience spending was strong. Simply put, the not-for-profit cultural sector showed its resiliency and strength, and the audiences responded.

While you will read of the impact of the 105 organizations included, it’s also worth noting what’s not included. The many for-profit organizations from concert venues to the creative industries are not part of this study, nor is the economic impact from touring productions (the spending of those in the productions, which is distinct from those of the venue or audience).

Finally, while quantifying the economic impact of arts and culture is certainly important, it is only one of the many impacts of the sector, including: Tourism;

  • Education;
  • National and International Recognition;
  • Business and Employee Attraction;
  • Health and Human Services;
  • Veterans Services;
  • History and Heritage; and
  • Service to the Community.

No other sector offers all these impacts, and perhaps most importantly serves to inspire those who enjoy it while reflecting the culture of the people and places of our region. That’s the true impact of arts and culture; but for now, the numbers…

Tod A. Kniazuk
Executive Director
Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, Inc.

Click here for the full report of ASI's Economic Impact Study

Morty the corpse flower has company

Posted on October 03, 2014 by Erin Grajek | 0 Comments

The Buffalo News
By Mark Sommer News Staff Reporter
October 2, 2014

Morty the corpse flower has company
Morty the corpse flower has a friend – and it’s attracting attention at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The plant isn’t blooming and emitting an odor like that of rotting flesh, as Morty did in August. But the new corpse flower plant – it’s actual name is amorphophallus titanum – is growing. And growing.

The plant stood just 2 feet tall a few weeks ago, and now stands in the Palm Dome at nearly 8 feet, with expectations it will reach 16 to 20 feet in several weeks. It all depends on the size of the corm, which is like a plant’s bulb. “It’s cool to see the other part of the plant’s life cycle, and it’s also pretty amazing because it’s huge, and we don’t have other plants like that in our collection. It’s very dramatic, this plant,” said Erin Grajek, the Botanical Gardens’ marketing director.

Corpse flowers bloom every six to 10 years, and it’s impossible to know for sure when that rare occasion is going to occur, although it could be years away. When Morty bloomed, the Botanical Gardens’ single-day attendance record was broken in successive days.

The Botanical Gardens purchased three of the rare tubers, including Morty, in July from a Massachusetts nursery. Like Morty, the plant with the recent growth spurt is speckled and the top – where the leaf is starting to emerge – is bright green and ruffly in appearance.

The plant looks like a tree, but it’s actually a leaf structure. The leaf structure saves energy to eventually produce the flower. The flower, when it appears, is one of the largest in the world, and because it is rare in captivity, it is seldom seen in a public setting.

Corpse flowers are native to the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and because they require warm, humid greenhouse conditions, are difficult to grow. The Botanical Gardens had 4,970 visitors during the two days Morty was in bloom, and nearly 9,000 from when it was announced Morty was on display through that weekend.

Morty’s friend does not have a name yet. A naming contest is expected soon.


Botanical Gardens’ Peace Garden Designated as an Honorary International Peace Garden

Posted on September 08, 2014 by Erin Grajek | 0 Comments

Buffalo, NY – The International Peace Garden Foundation and the War of 1812 Bi-Centennial Peace Garden Trial will designate the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens’ Peace Garden as an Honorary International Peace Garden. This Dedication Ceremony will take place at the Botanical Gardens on September 9, 2014 at 8:00am.

As an honorary International Peace Garden this garden will be enjoyed by both domestic and international visitors for years to come. It will become part of an international registry, display a commemorative stone marker and have an interpretive panel linking this garden with other Peace Gardens along the 1812 Commemorative Trail.

Considerations in determining eligibility as an Honorary International Peace Garden include location, size, design and significance to the War of 1812. The Botanical Gardens’ Peace Garden has officially met all of the necessary criteria. With the generous support of Rich Products and Ellicott Development some major improvements have been made in preparation for this honor and their leadership in the beautification of this garden will be recognized at the Dedication Ceremony.

This garden is part of a trail of 1812 Bi-Centennial Peace Gardens established to commemorate this historic event. The 1812 Bi-Centennial Peace Garden Project is modeled after an international program established by the International Peace Garden Foundation in 1990 when Canada honored the United States with the first International Peace Garden to honor the friendship between Canada and the United States having shared the longest undefended border in the world since the War of 1812. Since that time annually a country is presented with a Peace Garden in recognition of their commitment to fostering world peace. Presently, there are 22 International Peace Gardens, spanning five continents.

The Peace Gardens are permanent and will be enjoyed by visitors for years to come. For more information on this program and other activities concerning the International Peace Garden Foundation please visit More information on the Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail can be obtained at

For more information, visit The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization 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.

Rare corpse flower’s bloom draws record crowds to Botanical Gardens

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Erin Grajek | 0 Comments

Crowds of people poured into Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens over the weekend to see Morty, the corpse flower, in bloom.

The all-time one-day attendance mark of 2,257 was set Friday, only to be shattered Saturday when 2,660 people visited. It was the first time that the Botanical Gardens’ turnstiles had cracked 2,000 in a single day.

“The Botanical Gardens has been around since 1900, and the last two days have set a record in attendance,” said David Swarts, the Botanical Gardens’ president. “It’s been just phenomenal.”

The corpse flower, whose actual name is Amorphophallus titanum, blooms for only 24 to 48 hours, emitting a smell that, during its peak time of about 12 hours, rivals the smell of rotting flesh. After the flower completes its brief life cycle, which includes producing the largest leaf in the world, it returns to a dormant stage for six to 10 years. The plant is rarely seen in captivity.

The crowds swelled Friday night, with the last person leaving at 12:15 a.m. All came to see the 7-foot-, 8-inch tall maroon and chartreuse plant, which weighs more than 120 pounds, ranking it as one of the largest plants in the world.

Attendance on Saturday was consistently heavy throughout the day, when hours were extended to 11 p.m. Sunday’s attendance figure was not immediately available.

“It attracted people from all over the community. I never saw in one day such diversity in ethnicity and age. It was the full gamut,” Swarts said.

Since the Botanical Gardens announced July 27 that Morty was on display and would soon bloom, about 4,000 people had visited leading up to Friday, bringing the total number to nearly 9,000 through Saturday, Swarts said.

“I really believe the level of interest we have seen is because the corpse plant is so unique. With its prehistoric, eerie look, it’s something no one has ever seen here before,” he said.

Many people posed for photographs beside Morty, some holding their noses or sticking out their tongues.

Swarts said he expected visitors to continue coming to see the final stages of Morty’s life cycle.

“I could see it closing up Saturday night at 9 p.m., which was 48 hours after it started to bloom. This is a life cycle, and we could see the smell was mostly gone and now the plant was coming in on itself and beginning to set the next stage of its life cycle before going dormant,” he said.

The weekend was a bonanza for the Botanical Gardens in other ways, too, with new members and volunteers signing up, and record sales in the gift shop.

“This put the Botanical Gardens on the map as a destination. It provided people a chance to see the wonderful treasure we have here, and maybe they’ll come back,” Swarts said.

“Morty has set records for the Botanical Gardens, and engaged Western New York in the fascinating world of plants like never before. Thank you, Morty,” added Erin Grajek, the Botanical Gardens’ marketing director.

By Sunday afternoon, Morty’s stench had faded, but a steady flow of visitors kept coming throughout the day.

The chance to smell the rare plant certainly was the lure for Josh Jackson.

It was the Ransomville resident’s first trip to the Botanical Gardens, and he joked he had to fight the urge to “jump over the rope and stick his head in the middle of the plant” to breathe it all in.

What stopped him was a whiff of something he detected floating in the air, he said.

It was the same faint odor that Robert Smith got when he was near Morty. Smith had heard about the corpse flower before he moved here from Mobile, Ala., three weeks ago for a job at HSBC, but Sunday was his first time seeing one. He was impressed.

“It had a lot of character to it,” said Smith, who was visiting the Botanical Gardens with friend Delores “Dollie” Glaser, who was also taken with the plant’s beauty. Her husband, Owen, the former director of the attraction, died last February.

“It’s pretty. It’s beautiful,” Glaser said of Morty.

But it was Smith who thought he got a whiff of a bad smelling odor that piqued his senses.

“It may have been” the corpse flower, he said.

Actually, situated near the Morty exhibit, is a voodoo lily, formally named Amorphophallus konjac. It’s the corpse flower’s “stinky little cousin,” the sign next to it reads.

The voodoo lily gives off the same bad odor, just in smaller doses, the docent said

Toni Gerace and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Kelsey Mae, were not too upset, either, that the stench was gone. They were happy just to have had the chance to see the plant.

“It was absolutely beautiful, gorgeous, unbelievable,” she said. “I’m glad we got to see it.”

“We’ll come back in another 10 years, right?” she said to her granddaughter.

“Yeah,” said an excited Kelsey Mae.

The smelly hype wasn’t what brought Sylvia Grendisa to the Botanical Gardens to see a corpse flower for the first time. The West Seneca resident is the gardener in the family, said her daughter Rachel Domanski, who moved back from New York City a few months ago.

Grendisa, who started a garden club at her church in 2000, said to see a corpse flower in person is like a “spiritual experience.”

“I was here for the beauty of it,” she said. “The size of the plants I see are 1 foot, or maybe 2 feet high, but to see a plant” as tall as Morty “is a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

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