other path at Jen Weber's gardens

Nothing like an outdoor wedding to jumpstart a backyard makeover

by Connie Oswald Stofko Jen and Joe Weber moved their family into their new home three years ago. When they got there, they found that the previous owners had planted bishop’s weed (also called goutweed), a nasty, very aggressive plant that spreads easily and is hard to get rid of. The bishop’s weed is still there, stretching 66 feet along one side of the house. Other projects, such as fixing “the path to nowhere,” haven’t been started yet, either, and…

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,…

bear in Batavia backyard

Bear sighted in Batavia; what to do if you see one

by Connie Oswald Stofko A bear was spotted walking through a resident’s yard in Batavia last week. You can see the resident’s video here. This isn’t the first sighting of bears in populated areas of Western New York. I wrote about bears that were seen in Cheektowaga and Lancaster (suburbs of Buffalo) in 2020. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said then that they had begun to see a rise in reported sightings of black bears in…

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…


Cannabis: Legal to grow June 29 in NYS

by Connie Oswald Stofko On June 29, it will be legal for adults, age 21 and older, to grow cannabis at home in New York State. Right now, only medical cannabis can be grown by private individuals in New York State. The patient must get authorization from a certified health care provider to grow cannabis. The rules that are in place now for growing medical cannabis will be the rules for home cultivation of cannabis starting June 29. A person…

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….

hummingbird at Phygeliius

Prepare for hummingbirds in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Hummingbirds generally arrive in Western New York at the end of April or early May. I’ve seen some mentions online saying that hummingbirds have already been spotted in Chautauqua County, but according to this map, they haven’t arrived yet (as of Tuesday morning, April 16). Perhaps people are seeing male hummingbirds. The males arrive a week or so before females, according to “When to Expect Hummingbirds in Your Yard This Spring” from Audubon.org. It’s possible that…

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…

crocus with honey bee in Amherst NY copyright Connie Oswald Stofko

Gardens look like April, not March: weather in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Does it seem that your crocuses, daffodils or other plants are budding—even blooming—early this year? “There’s no question about it,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. “We are ahead of where we would normally be. It looks like April instead of March.” The Southern Tier has also seen warmer temperatures than usual, said said Kelly McDonald, executive director and Master Gardener at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cattaraugus County. While it’s…

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…