snow on evergreen in Amherst NY

Winter solstice: days will be getting longer in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Surprise! Tomorrow is the first day of winter. Yes, Western New York has snow on the ground, and parts of Western New York got 80 inches of snow in November, but that’s just weather. We’re talking about how close–or far away– Western New York is to the sun. As the Earth spins on its axis, the Northern Hemisphere gets closer or farther away from the sun. When the Northern Hemisphere is at its farthest point, we…

turkey vulture in Tonawanda NY

Join Audubon’s Christmas bird count to help scientists

You can help scientists learn how birds are faring in Western New York by volunteering for Audubon’s 123rd Christmas Bird Count. It’s one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world.  Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count will take place between Wednesday, Dec. 14 and Thursday, Jan. 5.   Each individual count takes place over the course of 24 hours, in a 15-mile-wide circle, and is led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations directly to Audubon. Participation is free. Within each circle, participants tally…

highbush cranberry

For autumn interest, choose attractive shrubs that help WNY’s environment

by Connie Oswald Stofko How did your landscape look this autumn? Did you have lovely autumn perennials? Trees bursting with fall-colored leaves? How about shrubs? Chances are you don’t have shrubs with autumn interest, and if you do, it’s a popular shrub that is problematic. As you make your plans for next year, consider choosing a native shrub that is interesting in autumn in Western New York. Stunning, but problematic: burning bush I’ve got to admit, burning bush (Euonymus alatus),…

gift bag that is compostable

Make gift bags you can compost in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Have you accumulated extra paper bags since the ban on plastic bags at stores went into effect in New York State? I have. And I’ve done it on purpose. The other day I stopped into a store and bought one small item. It wasn’t raining out; I could have easily carried the item to my car with no help from a bag. But when the cashier asked me if I wanted a bag for just a…

brown marmorated stink bug Buffalo area

Fewer brown marmorated stinkbugs in WNY? It seems likely!

by Connie Oswald Stofko I didn’t see many brown marmorated stinkbugs in October, which is the time when they are usually trying to get into our houses. Other Western New York gardeners have told me they have seen fewer–or even none–this fall. Could the population of brown marmorated stinkbugs be declining in Western New York? “It does seem to be that way,” said Liam Somers, state entomologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Brown marmorated stinkbugs in…

fats grease oil

Should you compost fats & grease? If not, where should they go?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Thanksgiving is coming up next week, with more winter celebrations to follow. You may be cooking a lot–and cleaning up a lot. What should you do with the grease on the pots and pans? Let’s look at the choices. You may be surprised. Compost It’s generally recommended not to use fats, oils and grease in your compost because they can create odor problems and attract rodents. Some people say you can add small amounts of fats,…

Climate change illustration

Two WNY communities get Climate Smart certification

The City of North Tonawanda and the Village of Lancaster recently achieved bronze certification in New York State’s Climate Smart Communities Certification program. Click on the links to see the steps that the City of North Tonawanda and the Village of Lancaster took to receive the certification. In addition, the City of Buffalo was re-certified bronze by completing additional actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It was first certified in 2019. There are now 105 certified Climate Smart Communities (PDF) in New York State….

autumn leaves on trees in Amherst Ny

Reminder: Keep your leaves!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Last week, I was trying to get some exercise, walking around my neighborhood, but I just had to stop. The autumn leaves were so beautiful I had to photograph them! As I was meandering, two different strangers stopped to comment on how beautiful the trees were. But now the leaves are dropping. Yay! We gardeners love autumn leaves on the trees and in our gardens! Here’s a previous article that lists many of the ways you…

pumpkin with recycling logo

Pumpkin drop-off at Botanical Gardens

You should compost your pumpkins, but if you can’t, don’t plunk them in your garbage can! They will end up in a landfill, and that’s not good. Instead, drop them off during the first annual Pumpkin Drop-Off at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. Large bins will be located at the far entrance of the Botanical Gardens parking lot. You can drop off your pumpkins from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday,…

waterfall in Glen Park in Williamsville New York

You can vote on Environmental Bond Act: clean air, clean water, green jobs

by Connie Oswald Stofko Do you want New York State to borrow money for projects to help residents have clean air, clear water and green jobs? When you vote in the upcoming election, you’ll see that as New York State’s Proposition 1. Text of Proposition 1 This is the text you will see on your ballot: “To address and combat the impact of climate change and damage to the environment, the ‘Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond…