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This article, written by Kevin Kirkland, originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on August 6, 2021.

Too small for the big-kid rides, I wrap my arms around my horse’s mus­cu­lar neck as he rises and falls like the waves of Lake Erie.

In another Kodachrome memory, I squint up at a hill of flowers as colorful and orderly as my Crayola 64-pack. I wonder: Are they real?

They are in the floral clock on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But the horse with the carved, flowing mane and flaring nostrils was part of the carousel at Crystal Beach in nearby Ontario, Canada. The 1880s amusement park closed in 1989 and the carousel was sold along with its roller coasters and other rides.

Now the horses have come around again, along with li­ons, os­triches, gi­raffes and other carved wooden crea­tures in a re­stored an­tique merry-go-round pow­ered by the sun, the Buf­falo Her­i­tage Car­ou­sel.

And the flow­ers? They still bloom on the flo­ral clock’s 40-foot face on Can­ada’s side of the falls. Start­ing Mon­day, vac­ci­nated U.S. res­i­dents can again visit Can­ada.

But why wait in line at the Peace Bridge? You can see Frank Lloyd Wright’s “flori­cyle” — a huge, curv­ing gar­den bed where flow­ers bloom in suc­ces­sion from March through No­vem­ber — at Buf­falo’s Dar­win Mar­tin House. Both at­trac­tions are a lit­tle over three hours’ drive from Down­town Pitts­burgh.

A car­ou­sel comes home

The 34 car­ou­sel an­i­mals that cir­cle end­lessly in a so­lar-pow­ered pa­vil­ion by the Buf­falo River started as blocks of wood carved by un­known ar­ti­sans in sub­ur­ban North Tona­wanda, N.Y. Spill­man Engi­neer­ing Co. crafts­men — many of whom also carved for Spill­man’s cross-town com­pet­i­tor, now the Her­sch­ell Car­rou­sel Fac­tory Mu­seum — cre­ated this car­ou­sel in 1924 for Domenick DeAn­ge­lis, who op­er­ated it at var­i­ous parks in Mas­sa­chu­setts. It’s known as a me­nag­erie car­ou­sel be­cause it has more than horses.

After DeAn­ge­lis died in 1952, his fam­ily kept the car­ou­sel in stor­age for 60 years, hop­ing to see it run once again. In 2016, the Erie Canal Har­bor Devel­op­ment Corp. bought it for $250,000 to in­stall at Ca­nal­side, an en­ter­tain­ment com­plex in down­town Buf­falo near the west­ern ter­mi­nus of the Erie Canal. Then the fun re­ally be­gan.

“My friend re­cruited me,” said art­ist Linda Chaf­fee, 70, of Akron, N.Y. ‘“We’re go­ing to paint this car­ou­sel. It will take a year.’ It took four years.”

The re­stor­ers, most of them vol­un­teers like Chaf­fee, spent about 200 hours on each an­i­mal, heat-strip­ping and doc­u­ment­ing each layer of paint, re­mov­ing screws and nails, patch­ing, sand­ing and ap­ply­ing five coats of paint and sealer.

Though the horses were or­dered from a cat­a­log, cus­tom­ers could add de­tails that made them unique. DeAn­ge­lis, an Ital­ian im­mi­grant, asked Spill­man to carve an Amer­i­can ea­gle and sword into horses’ flanks.

“Sev­eral of our horses are one of a kind. We’re the only one who has them,” said Car­ima El-Be­hairy, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions and de­vel­op­ment.

Chaf­fee, who of­ten works the reg­is­ter, said 50,000 peo­ple have rid­den the car­ou­sel since it opened in late May.

“What sur­prises me is it’s all ages,” she said. “We had two la­dies who were 99 and 104 years old. They walk through the door and they’re kids again.”

Mod­ern gar­den from yes­ter­year

We don’t know if Frank Lloyd Wright in­vented the word “flori­cy­cle,” but let­ters be­tween the ar­chi­tect and his wealthy cli­ents, Isa­belle and Dar­win Mar­tin, show all three liked the idea of flow­ers bloom­ing from early spring to late fall.

But how to do it? That ques­tion and Wright’s de­lays in send­ing a de­tailed land­scape de­sign vexed Mar­tin in the early 1900s.

“As the shrubs were dry­ing up we planted them Satur­day and en­close this pho­to­graph show­ing how they were planted,” the Lar­kin soap ex­ec­u­tive wrote in 1905. “If the pho­to­graph is mea­ger, re­mem­ber that the plant­ing plan was mea­ger, too.”

Mar­tin had no way of know­ing that Wright’s plant ex­pert, Wal­ter Bur­ley Grif­fin, had quit be­cause he wanted to be paid in some­thing other than Jap­a­nese prints. With Grif­fin’s help, Wright came up with a plant list filled with old-fash­ioned gar­den stal­warts — hol­ly­hock, phlox, col­um­bine, lu­pine and my per­sonal fa­vor­ite, del­phin­ium.

All of them grow to­day in the flori­cy­cle and other beds around the land­mark Dar­win Mar­tin House (​mar­tin­ and ad­ja­cent Bar­ton House built for Mar­tin’s sis­ter.

But it wasn’t easy. Mar­tin lost his for­tune in the 1929 stock mar­ket crash and his land­mark house and 1.5 acres were in ru­ins when res­tora­tion be­gan in the 1990s. The gar­dens were the last piece, be­gun in 2016.

Land­scape ar­chi­tect Mark Bayer was charged with rec­re­at­ing this col­lab­o­ra­tive land­scape.

“This gar­den is as much the Mar­tins’ as it is Frank Lloyd Wright’s. They loved plants and gar­den­ing,” said the owner of Bayer Land­scape Ar­chi­tec­ture in Ho­ne­oye Falls, N.Y.

Since it was a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion rather than res­tora­tion, Bayer had more lee­way in choos­ing pe­ren­ni­als, shrubs and trees. Im­proved cul­ti­vars are avail­able for most of the plants that grew a cen­tury ago.

The ‘Pagans Pur­ple’ del­phin­i­ums by the ve­ran­dah were spec­tac­u­lar when I vis­ited in early July. But they have been fad­ing lately so Su­san Per­low and other gar­den vol­un­teers re­cently cut them back.

“We get a beau­ti­ful sec­ond bloom in Sep­tem­ber,” said the re­cent re­tiree from Wil­liams­ville, N.Y.

Rosanne Stol­zen­burg, of East Am­herst, said she and the other 20 reg­u­lar gar­den vol­un­teers learn con­stantly and some­times use those les­sons in their home gar­dens. Her fa­vor­ite flower over­all is del­phin­ium, but it changes ev­ery week.

“This week the phlox look amaz­ing. They’re pur­ple, pink and white,” she said.

Perlow said she feels “privileged” to work upon a national landmark property that is part of The Great Wright Road Trip along with Western Pennsylvania’s Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob and Polymath Park.

Stolzenburg, who averages 12-15 hours a week in the gardens, agreed.

“To see how the landscape complements the beautiful Martin House, it’s awesome,” she said.