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USDA plant hardiness zone map comparing Western New York in 2012 to 2023

Your Western New York garden may be in a new plant hardiness zone

by Connie Oswald Stofko What plants will last through the winter in your garden? You can figure that out by knowing what hardiness zone you are in. And you may be in a warmer zone than you thought. A new version of the Plant Hardiness Zone Map was released last week by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. The zones go from coldest to warmest; 5 is colder…

Sunflowers in Amherst NY

Gardeners, let’s be thankful when things go right

by Connie Oswald Stofko This spring, my wonderful neighbor gave me several sunflower seedlings. I was excited (and thankful!) because my husband and I love sunflowers. We had given up on planting sunflowers because rabbits love our gardens. It became too difficult to try to defend—then lose—these wonderful flowers to the rabbits. But this year I decided to try one more time, and I was very careful. I planted the seedlings in large pots and placed the pots outside on…

poinsettia show at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Poinsettias fill Botanical Gardens; see them at night, too

Thousands of brilliant poinsettias, from ‘Christmas Joy Reds’ to ‘Princettia Pure Whites’, will be on display at the annual Poinsettia Exhibit at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. The exhibit takes place now through Monday, January 1, with these exceptions: This year’s Poinsettia Exhibit features a new installation called Dimensions. Large reflective orbs and mirrors are arranged to showcase never-before-seen angles. Experience this exhibit in a new light on select evenings during Poinsettias After Dark. See the…

wildflower garden in Tom Homme landscape in Pendleton NY

Rewilding: See how this WNY gardener turned lawn to wildflowers

by Connie Oswald Stofko The decorative gardens of Tom and Darcie Homme in Pendleton look great in winter, spring, summer and fall. I shared them with you in 2021. What I didn’t show you was the area where he was starting a wildflower garden. It didn’t look like much then, but it’s maturing now. He’s rewilding; turning some of his lawn back to nature. We can see the wildflower garden, as well as the decorative gardens, thanks to a video produced…

monarch on butterfly weed

30 x 30 Campaign: Takeaways from first meeting; get involved!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Nearly 100 people attended the first meeting on Saturday of the 30 x 30 Campaign for Western New York, which aims to have biodiversity on 30 percent of Western New York land and waters by 2030. (See our previous article here.) You can view the video of the meeting here. (Meetings will be in person only, not online, but meetings will be recorded. I’ll share the recordings here on Even if you couldn’t attend the meeting,…

squirrel at bird feeder in rain in Amherst NY

Count birds & mammals in FeederWatch

FeederWatch is a November-April survey of birds—and now mammals!—that visit backyards, nature centers, community areas and other locales in the United States and Canada.  Despite the name, you don’t need a feeder. All you need is an area with plantings, habitat, water or food that attracts birds.  You can participate from inside looking out a window. The schedule is completely flexible. Count your birds for as long as you like on days of your choosing, then enter your counts online.   The…

logo for Western New York 30 x 30 campaign

30 x 30: You can help our planet right here in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Is one-third of your yard biodiverse? Does it have native plants and bees and other animals? If not, could you take steps toward more biodiversity? That small idea is just one part of the 30 x 30 Campaign for Western New York, which aims to have biodiversity on 30 percent of Western New York land and waters by 2030. You could help by changing a bit of your yard, or parks in your town, or forests…

poster for orchid show by Niagara Frontier Orchid Society

Orchid Show: See exhibits & vendors, learn about orchids

See award-winning exhibits at the Orchid Show to be held by the Niagara Frontier Orchid Society and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The Orchid Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. It will take place at the Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. Note: The show will be located in the Administration Building. Entrance to the Orchid Show is included with the…

tree in winter

Enter Arbor Day poster contest by Dec. 31

Celebrate the beauty of New York State’s trees by participating in the 2024 Arbor Day Poster Contest held annually by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Contest guidelines are: Read the full guidelines of the contest and how to submit your artwork here. DEC prints thousands of posters for distribution to schools, the New York State Fair, libraries and other venues. It is a long-time tradition and the posters have become collector’s items for many….

spangled fritillary butterfly, red leaf, and bumble bee

Use the leaves, leave the leaves, or rake to curb?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Where do our pollinators go in the winter? A lot of them stay right here in Western New York. You may have created a welcoming habitat for them in spring, summer and autumn with native plants. Now it’s time for us to create a welcoming habitat for them during winter. It’s easy, too! Just leave the leaves. Why leave the leaves? We need pollinators, and pollinators need those fallen leaves in order to survive over the…