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Summer Hours: Pamela Rose, gardener extraordinaire

Pamela Rose, coordinator, web services and library promotion for UB Libraries, and her Bernese mountain dog Sophie, walk through the backyard garden on an afternoon in July.

Pamela Rose, coordinator for web services and library promotion for UB Libraries, and her Bernese mountain dog Sophie, walk through the backyard garden on an afternoon in July.

Photos and text by MEREDITH FORREST KULWICKI

Published July 23, 2021

Editor's note: Summer Hours is a photo series focusing on UB staff members who use the longer days to pursue interesting hobbies, causes and other endeavors outside of their day jobs.

On a recent warm July afternoon, Pamela Rose positions her “open garden” sign on the front lawn of her home in Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood. She does it early, just in case. Her instincts are on target, as a family from out of town immediately comes up to say hello and take a walk through her garden, snapping photos as they go.

Gardening is like weaving a tapestry, says Rose, coordinator for web services and library promotion for the UB Libraries. She visits “every single” nursery within driving distance to look for ideas and supplies, she adds.

“I buy what I like and then bring it home and figure out what works and what doesn’t,” she says. “I garden from the time the snow melts until the time it snows again.”

Pamela Rose (right) greets her first visitors outside her home on Woodward Ave in Buffalo, NY.

Pamela Rose (right) greets her first visitors outside her home on Woodward Avenue in Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood.

Pamela Rose (right) speaks with visitors outside her home on Woodward Avenue in Buffalo.
Rose laughs during a conversation with the Klein family, who visited her Open Garden hours in July.
A young visitor stops to give Sophie a pet while her family explores the garden.
A young girl holds a seed pod.

Rose encourages a young visitor to take a seed pod from the umbrella magnolia tree. Previous visitors have reported success in planting the seeds to grow their own trees.

Rose has been part of the Open Garden program for nearly a decade, but her passion for gardening started small, with some annuals and a small garden bed at one of her first apartments. When she moved to her current home on Woodward Avenue in 1982, she began to transform the 50-by-180-foot lot into the urban oasis it is today, filled with trees, walking paths, flowers and art.

Rose says she especially enjoys the relaxed vibe of the Open Garden afternoons that bring more seasoned gardeners to her home.

“I learn something from everybody I talk to because everyone has a different experience,” she explains.

Sophie, Rose’s 11-year-old Bernese mountain dog, is a trained therapy dog who loves visitors, too. Together, they create a welcoming environment as Rose chats about gardening and at times gifts items, such as a seed pod from her umbrella magnolia tree.

“It’s always beautiful every time you come,” says Marney Klein, from Tonawanda, who recently visited with her daughters and dog Maya.

Pamela Rose points to the flowers of a Bears Breeches (Acanthus).

While touring the garden, Rose points out different details of the plants, such as how the flowers on this Bear's Breeches (Acanthus) open downward.

Patchwork impatiens grace a planter. Sold at just one nursery in Western New York, their unique “splashed” flower pattern, colors and resistance to downy mildew make them a great choice for an annual.
This dwarf dawn redwood is one of Rose’s favorites plants because redwoods have survived for centuries. “They have a unique buttressed root system and are deciduous, which is really amazing to me,” she says.
A campanula “pink octopus.”.
Image of carved art pieces in Pamela Rose's garden.

Rose has a number of carved art pieces and wind chimes in her garden as well. The carved mountain lion and eagles were created by artist Cousin Kelly. The wind chimes memorialize their many departed pets.

Between visitors, Rose trims low-hanging branches, does some weeding and waters the few potted plants. She has friends who help on occasion as well, as she continues to shape the garden. They recently added more stepping stones to divide the larger backyard garden bed into three sections.

“Sometimes I’ll just sit back here with Sophie, relaxing. I’ll be looking at something that I’ve had for 10 years and I’ll be like, ‘You know what, that’s not right,’” Rose says. “I’ll go and get my shovel and ‘boom’ and it’s changed.”

Looking forward, Rose has plans to create a new sculpture, a to-be-determined bird, out of a tree stump. She is also in the process of installing a new water feature after finding a rose-tinted stone that, for her, perfectly matches her house color.

“I like vivid; I like color that smacks you in the face,” she says.

Open Gardens, organized by Gardens Buffalo Niagara, features nearly 100 gardens in the Buffalo Area that are open for select hours on Thursdays and Fridays in July.

Pamela Rose has worked at UB for 55 years. She initiated various UB Libraries events, including the introduction of therapy dogs for student de-stress days around finals. Rose has worked with Pets Alive WNY Rescue, shared her therapy dog as a reading partner for local school children and travelers at the Buffalo Airport, and volunteers as a docent at the Buffalo Zoo.