by Connie Oswald Stofko
Yesterday I turned off the heat and opened the windows– and the temperature in my house went up a degree!
Yesterday’s high of 71 set a record for Dec. 14. The previous record for that date, set in 1901, was only 64.
Another record is our lack of measurable snow so far this season. The previous record was set in 1899, when we went until Dec. 3 with no snow to speak of. Here it is Dec. 15 and still there’s no snow!
While technically autumn lasts until the winter solstice on Dec. 21, the warm, sunny weather usually retreats long before this. We expected a milder winter due to El Nino, but this weather has been amazing. In some years, snow is dumped on autumn leaves before we’ve had time to rake them up, but this year, we’ve had plenty of opportunity to do all those late autumn chores.
What a difference from last winter, which started for many Western New Yorkers with the Snowvember Storm of 2014, dumping seven feet of snow before Thanksgiving.
When the calendar turned to 2015, everybody in Western New York got lots of snow, coupled with below-zero temperatures. It was pretty, though.
We gave you ideas for things to do inside, such as making the ‘My Suzie’ floral arrangement.
There were many great talks and workshops, and fun events such as Lumagination at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. It was a treat to see the spectacular lighting inside the warm Botanical Gardens on a cold winter night.
When Plantasia rolled around in March, people were delighted to see entire gardens in bloom, knowing that spring was on its way.
By April we had a balmy day that made us feel as if spring was here to stay, even though we gardeners weren’t fooled. There were frosts in late May.
The summer was on the cool side, but that was great weather for all the garden walks, Open Gardens and other activities of Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara (formerly known as the National Garden Festival), the umbrella organization for this collection of garden activities unique to Western New York.
While Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest garden walk in the entire nation, is the most well known, there were 15 garden walks in Western New York this year. Fifteen! Plus Open Gardens! Other parts of the country have nothing like this, or if they do, you must pay for a ticket and there are just a few gardens to visit. This is not only a highlight of the summer for us local gardeners, it’s a tourist attraction.
When people see me taking photos in a yard on one of the garden walks, they often ask me if I visit all the gardens. I wish! On some weekends, there are so many garden walks, I can’t even go to one garden on every walk– I have to visit some gardens ahead of time. What a wonderful problem to have. It’s a joy to get to as many gardens as I can and to share these wonderful gardens with you.
The summer also brought the Celebration of Coleus and Color at the Botanical Gardens, and Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com was again proud to sponsor the exhibit. We told you why you should consider using coleus in your garden.
This year there was so much going on at the Botanical Gardens, it was hard to keep up. Major developments and activities included the new Proven Winners Garden at the entrance, the exhibit and residency of artist Shayne Dark, the dedication of the outdoor healing garden, renovations and work on a master plan to take the institution to a new level.
We kept you up to date on plant diseases and new pests in our area.
Throughout the year, my readers were wonderful. They helped spread the word about Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com and encouraged their friends to subscribe. They shared their experiences and tips by leaving comments. And when people sent me questions ranging from how what’s a good perennial for sun to how to keep squirrels from eating your tomatoes, my readers came through and offered great advice.
So what do you think were the memorable moments in gardening for 2015? Please leave a comment.
I’m taking a short respite, and I look forward to bringing you more gardening news, tips, photos and videos when I resume publishing on Jan. 19.
Have a happy new year!