DEC staff member wearing protective equipment next to adult giant hogweed plant.

Good news & bad news with giant hogweed in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko The bad news: Giant hogweed is a nasty invasive plant that can cause severe burns on your skin if you touch it. The good news: In many areas of New York State, giant hogweed has been eradicated. The bad news: Western New York has the most giant hogweed in the state. The good news: If giant hogweed is on your property, you can get advice on what you should do. Even better, staff from the Department…

self-heal flowers and leaves

Flowering lawns: easy, pretty, helpful

by Connie Oswald Stofko “It’s nice to add these flowers you can walk on,” said Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager of Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market. “These flowers are great for us; they’re not just for pollinators.” Urban Roots now carries flower seeds that you can add to your lawn: creeping thyme, self-heal, Dutch white clover and white yarrow. You can use them to create a “flawn” or flowering lawn. This is one way to add biodiversity to our landscapes; that is,…

tomatoes and peppers

Can you plant tomatoes on Mother’s Day? Memorial Day? Be patient

by Connie Oswald Stofko by Connie Oswald Stofko “Let me tell you a story,” said Kelly McDonald, executive director and Master Gardener at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cattaraugus County. “Last year my husband and I planted tomato seeds in the house with grow lights. The plants were getting bigger, so we moved them into gallon buckets. The weather got warmer and we moved the plants in and out of the garage (to protect them from cool nights). “Then we got…

people beginning to use a biochar kiln in Eden NY

Learn how to produce biochar in workshop at Henry’s Gardens

Burning for Biochar, a hands-on workshop on making biochar, will be held Saturday, April 27 at Henry’s Gardens, 7884 Sisson Hwy., Eden. Discover the benefits biochar can bring to your garden with John Maher, a founding member of the BioChar Coalition. Maher has degrees in both chemistry and biology, and has been producing biochar for over 10 years. Biochar has a number of benefits for your garden, from increasing microbial activity to increasing cation exchange capacity to help the soil….

fawn in tall grass

Baby wildlife: If you care, leave them there

Every year, people scoop up young wild animals thinking the animals are orphaned or neglected. They take the young animals to a wildlife rehabilitator, or worse, attempt to raise the young animals themselves. In many cases, this is unnecessary or even harmful, according to this page from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The most common young animals to be mistakenly “kidnapped” by humans are fawns, cottontail rabbits and fledgling birds. It’s important to understand the normal behavior for these…

grass path in Hamburg Garden Walk Hamburg NY

Art, nature & philosophy mix in this landscape on Hamburg Garden Walk

by Connie Oswald Stofko “Come to the party! Life is a feast,” said an enthusiastic Jack Edson, expressing his outlook on his gardens and his life. I visited his landscape last year on the Buzz Around Hamburg Garden Walk. He touched on many topics, including nature, art and philosophy. As he discussed the mulberry trees in his yard, Edson noted that they have a painterly quality. He pointed out the light and dark of the mulberry leaves, and compared that…

lesser celandine in Amherst NY

Lesser celandine: spread the word about this horrible plant in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners in Western New York have the opportunity to address the problem of lesser celandine. That’s because lesser celandine is right in our own backyards. Or front yards. Or the lawns and gardens of our neighbors. If you don’t know what lesser celandine is, read on. And if you are already familiar with this invasive plant, please tell others. Tip: Our weather has been warm, and lesser celandine may be coming up sooner than it has…

trees in Amherst NY with sky

Value of trees, plus more from Optimistic Gardener

Trees are valuable in many ways, and it really hits home when you link numbers to the value. Here are just a few of the statistics in the article “The Value of Trees By the Numbers” in the newest edition of The Optimistic Gardener: The Optimistic Gardener is produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Find the newsletter on the gardening page of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua (on the lefthand side) and in Cattaraugus (on the…

forester and landowner looking at tree

Grants available: community forests, invasive species, large landowners

Environmental grants are available to some landowners, municipalities and groups. Deadlines are coming up quick. See the details below. Regenerate NY Grant for landowners; deadline is Oct. 6 Regenerate NY is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6. If you own five or more acres of forestland or land suitable for establishing forest, you may be eligible for a Regenerate NY grant. This cost-share grant program aims to help private landowners promote forest regeneration on their land. Projects must…

mosquito Culex pipiens

Mosquitoes bugging you? Keep them out of your WNY landscape

One way to keep mosquitoes from biting you is by keeping them out of your yard in the first place. The most common mosquito in New York State is Culex pipiens, which has a very small territory. It usually stays within 300 feet of its breeding site, according to this page on mosquitoes from New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYS IPM). If you and your Western New York neighbors make sure there are no breeding sites, everyone can have a…