pea flower in snow

What plant hardiness is, plus more from Master Gardeners

When we think of plant hardiness, we think of hardiness zones. If a plant can’t withstand the cold temperatures in Western New gardens, it’s not hardy in our area. But water– too much or too little– is another factor that determines whether plants will survive here. See more in the article “Plant Hardiness” by Carol Ann Harlos in the latest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. Other articles in this…

Four tips to keep deer from eating your plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko We can never get enough tips on ways to keep deer from damaging plants. Some of these ideas may work for you and some may not. And even if the technique you’re using does work, it may stop working after a while, so you have to try something new. Here are four new tips on dealing with deer in your garden. Recipe for deer deterrent Michael Sheehan of the Western New York Hosta Society says this…

rabbit with daisies

Roses can help save other plants from rabbits

by Connie Oswald Stofko I was intrigued by this tip. I have rabbits in my yard, and in the spring they munch on everything, including my rose bushes. But here is a way to use the canes from rose bushes to protect your other plants from hungry rabbits. This tip was shared by a reader named Susan: We had problems with rabbits munching our morning glory vines (or any lovely vine, for that matter). When I trimmed the rose bushes,…

baskets on top of hosta plants

Tip to keep voles from damaging hostas

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here is a tip about voles from Kathy Guest Shadrack, board member and communication liaison with the Western New York Hosta Society. She has a problem with voles even though hawks, foxes and coyotes visit her gardens. In order to give her garden a fighting chance, she covers the crowns of her hostas with baskets she got from a dollar store. If the crown is really large, she chooses deer netting instead of a basket. She…

birch bark

Find better alternatives to silver birch in WNY Gardening Matters

People love the beauty of silver birch trees (Betula pendula) but have realized that variety is short lived and susceptible to the birch borer. Find other native alternatives that are more interesting in this article by Lyn Chimera. It’s in the current issue of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “Remember, if you want to plant a tree always check for an appropriate native first,” Chimera said. Other articles in this…

brown marmorated stink bug near window

These stink bugs won’t harm you or house; may damage plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners are once again beginning to notice brown marmorated stink bugs flying and crawling in their homes. These invasive pests are looking for a place to spend the winter. They don’t pose any harm to humans and they won’t damage your home. However, they are ugly and annoying in your house. They make a loud buzzing when they fly and a big thump when they land. When you squish them, they stink. More important, they feed on…

raised garden beds keep out deer

How to have a productive garden when you’ve got deer & kids

by Connie Oswald Stofko When Lindsay and Timothy Dzielski had their garden in the backyard, the deer ate everything. The groundhog and squirrels got a share, too. The garden also competed for space with all of the kids’ toys. So in March, when things suddenly closed down because of the pandemic, they tried something new. They built raised beds in a dead space along their driveway. “This is how you enjoy gardening while you enjoy wildlife,” Timothy said. “People never…

late blight on tomatoes

Protect tomatoes; late blight detected in Chautauqua County

by Connie Oswald Stofko Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, is present in Chautauqua County and is expected it to be found fairly soon in Cattaraugus County and Pennsylvania, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program. Given the current weather patterns, there is real risk that late blight has already traveled on the storm fronts to new places.  You may not be upset if you lose a few tomato plants, but this disease spreads easily and can be very…

chipmunk

How to deal with chipmunks in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints lately from gardeners who are having problems with chipmunks. I talked with John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, and my first question was whether we have more chipmunks in Western New York. “We have been getting occasional calls on chipmunks for many years, so I don’t think their populations have increased significantly,” he said. But they can be a problem for gardeners. “If their populations build…

Skirmish over Queen Anne’s lace leads to bigger discussions

by Connie Oswald Stofko It all started about two weeks ago when an anonymous neighbor complained to the Town of Amherst about the front lawn of Walter and Nan Simpson. The Simpsons mow their lawn, but when an interesting plant pops up, such as Queen Anne’s lace, they mow around it. The neighbor didn’t like that. When a town inspector showed up, he deemed the Queen Anne’s lace to be a noxious weed, according to the town code. Since the…