Appreciating The Little Things: Gratwick Riverside Park, North Tonawanda – Part 1


How many of us really appreciate our surroundings? We get so wrapped up in our day to day existence, spending time on social media and other time absorbers, that we don’t always “take time to smell the roses” or any other flowers for that matter.

I am one such culprit, or should I say, I was one such culprit.

I live in an area that is rich in tourism: Niagara Falls, New York.  It’s known as the Honeymoon capital of the world. A twelve minute drive from our house has us overlooking the Horseshoe Falls and Niagara Falls, Canada. About six minutes and we are at Love Canal, but we won’t go there!

The water flows past our area first before taking the plunge over the Falls.

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: A gull sits on the rock enjoying the sunset as the mighty Niagara River flows towards the Falls

The Niagara river flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario along approximately 35 miles of the US / Canadian  border. Around the halfway point, the river flows past Gratwick Riverside park, North Tonawanda, about a 10 minute walk from our house.

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: We get to enjoy some beautiful sunsets from the park.

Gratwick Riverside park, which because of my heritage I offer call Gatwick (after the London airport) Park is located on the banks of the Niagara River. It has become a very popular area for cyclist, walkers, people watchers, dog walkers, model airplane enthusiasts, kite fliers, fishermen, photographers, concert goers, boaters and me. Yes, I have just discovered this rich treasure.

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: There are a variety of grasses and small berry bushes along the shore.

It is about a 1 mile walk along the shore and it is rich in nature, from swallows nesting in the boxes installed by a birding group, to bullrushes, curly willows, ducks, fish, thistle, dandelions, and pampas grass, to name only a few.

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: Thistle, at the end of their lives add to the beauty of the shore. 

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: One of my favorite shots, the delicate dandelion silhouetted against the sunset.

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: Hanging from the curly willow tree is our New England Gothic planter with real plants. I can often be found on a Sunday morning setting up in the park and taking pictures of new products.

I have also found riches on the shore, yes! I’ve found driftwood that I collect, dry, and use to decorate my bird feeders, bird houses and Little Free Libraries (more about these in a future blog).

I gather up the bark-free, smooth sticks and branches, as I wonder how long they were in the water and where did they come from? Some may have come from as far away as Lake Superior, or Lake Michigan, or even Lake Huron. They may have been flowing with the river for decades. It’s a mystery that I will never solve.

I do like the character of the wood though. It is rounded, free from bark and smooth. It has a distinct look to it.

I gather up what I need and transport it back to my workshop, where I dry it out and then apply a coat or two of finishing oil to protect it from future elements.

Once the driftwood is dry I use it to build my combination bird feeders and bird houses. The driftwood adds character to my finished products and helps to give them an original look.

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: Our rustic Tiverton bird feeder and bird house combination. This one has a new owner in Park City, Utah, but don’t worry, I can make more! 

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: This rustic Tiverton is looking for a home. It is made from western red cedar and driftwood; the driftwood and the cedar are oil finished for durability. This one also includes our signature roof design. 

Go explore your surroundings; you might be surprised at what you see because, as my daughter says, “It’s the little things that make the difference.”

Sadler Garden Collections - Gratwick Park, North TonawandaPhoto: Most people relate the Buffalo area to snow, but we also get some fantastic sunsets. Enlarge this shot and look at the cloud formations!

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