Tips & inspiration for wild winter weather in WNY

Stephen Vermette has been creating photographic artwork during our winter weather. This triptych, photographed on Jan. 17, shows leaf prints that were made when rock salt was scattered on a sidewalk. The first panel shows the leaves covered in salt, the second panel shows one leaf removed, and the third panel shows both leaf prints. Photo courtesy Stephen Vermette

by Connie Oswald Stofko and Stephen Vermette

We’ve had some wild weather in the past week: lots of snow, wind, an official blizzard, and dangerously cold wind chills. But yesterday it felt like spring, with strong sun and temperatures around 60.

Now some areas have flooding, and more flooding is possible. Tomorrow we might get freezing rain. Later in the week the forecast is for rain, then snow.

Find out what you can do in your landscape in these changing conditions, and remember to enjoy the beauty in winter.

needle ice crystals
Rock salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, creating a brine that melts ice and snow on sidewalks and roads. But when the temperature dips near or below zero degrees Fahrenheit, as it did last week, the brine around a salt crystal begins to freeze, forming small needle-like ice crystals. This photo was taken Thursday, Jan. 31, the day after the blizzard. Photo courtesy Stephen Vermette


Your garden and wild winter weather

Here are some ideas for you and your landscape as we deal with Western New York’s fluctuating winter weather.

Mulch your perennials

When the temperatures dipped below zero Fahrenheit, we had snow cover. That snow cover was helpful to our perennials. Find out what you can do now to protect perennials from cold and what you can do in the future to help perennials survive the winter.

Deicing tips

We don’t want anyone to slip on an icy sidewalk, but applying too much salt is a waste of money and can cause damage to the concrete. It can harm your plants, too. Plus, it can get into our waterways. In this tip sheet from Cornell Cooperative Extension in Onondaga County, find out which deicers to choose, learn how to apply deicers and get tips on planting to reduce plant damage from salt.

Find out about climate

Learn about climate change in our region and how to prepare for it during WNY Climate Conversations, to be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

“Weathering Climate Change in WNY” will be presented by Stephen Vermette, professor of geography in the Department of Geography & Planning at Buffalo State College. “Dialogue Beyond Differences” will be presented by Jonathan Garlick, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science at Tufts University. A presentation on the “Zero Hour Youth Movement” will be given by Sohayla Eldeeb.

The event is free, but please register here to help the organizers plan.

Don’t panic if you see these bugs

As the weather warmed up, you may have been seeing large brown bugs in your house. They’re called brown marmorated stink bugs. They look gross, but they are harmless inside your house. However, they are an invasive species, and as their numbers grow, they may become a problem in our gardens.

brown marmorated stink bug Buffalo area
Here’s a closeup of a brown marmorated stink bug. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

See the beauty in winter

These leaf prints are “underfoot, but so often overlooked,” said Stephen Vermette. Photo courtesy Stephen Vermette

Stephen Vermette describes his artistic photos of leaf prints:

“I am constantly reminded of winter’s beauty, and of the surprising ways in which it is revealed.

“In this case, a stroll along a sidewalk, washed white by salt residue, revealed ghost forms from the previous season – leaf prints haloed by salt. Further along my walk I searched for salt-encrusted leaves still on the path, and then assisted mother nature by peeling them back to reveal their silhouettes.

“Yes, even the most sterile of environments – a concreate sidewalk covered in a salt wash – can reveal an ephemeral garden of beauty.”

Vermette says the medium for these creations is a leaf, rock salt, cement and Mother Nature. Photo courtesy Stephen Vermette

See other information from Stephen Vermette in these articles:

2 Comments on “Tips & inspiration for wild winter weather in WNY

  1. Just a warning about BMSBs in your home. Don’t vacuum them as they release a foul odor when disturbed! I put them outside …By,by..

    As far as anyone knows the stink bugs don’t pose a threat to humans or their pets.

  2. Carol Ann, yes, brown marmorated stink bugs will die in this freezing weather. You can just put them outside. If you squish them inside, they release a stinky odor that can get on your fingers, even if you use a tissue. Washing with soap will take the smell off your hands.

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