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 It’s possible that…

Make your entire garden out of container plants; see video

What looks like a huge, lush garden is really extreme container gardening. “Everything is in pots,” said Scott Dunlap. His husband, Joe Hopkins, does the gardening and together they share their Buffalo Cottage District landscape on Open Gardens and Garden Walk Buffalo. You can get a glimpse of their gardens in this video, created by Jay Jinge Hu, who also shares his Williamsville landscape on Open Gardens. Other interesting tidbits from Hopkins and Dunlap’s landscape: See more videos here….

cardinal and sparrow in snow in Cheektowaga NY

You can add to 120 years of data through Christmas Bird Counts

Be a citizen scientist and join one of the many Christmas bird counts that the National Audubon Society will hold from Thursday, Dec. 14 to Friday, Jan. 5. The Christmas bird counts have been taking place for more than 120 years. The information from these has been used in hundreds of analyses, peer-reviewed publications and government reports over the decades. One thing that scientists have discovered from the bird counts is that the number of birds has decreased dramatically in…

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…

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…

herbs, compost, rose hips, birds in snow

Autumn tips: rose seeds, herbs, new garden, spreading compost & more

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here are six reminders–or perhaps new ideas–for activities that Western New York gardeners can do in autumn. Start roses from seeds Yes, you can actually start roses from seeds, and autumn is the time to do it, said David Clark, CNLP. The seeds are inside the rose hip, which is the fruit of the plant. It’s a green or red ball that forms when the rose flower drops off. See more in the article “How to…

girl with monarch butterfly on her hand in Jamestown NY

See free-flying butterflies & more at events by Audubon in Jamestown

Two events celebrating monarch butterflies will be held by the Audubon Community Nature Center, 1600 Riverside Rd., Jamestown. Butterflies and Brews Butterflies and Brews, an adults-only event, will be held from 6–9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. Learn about the life cycle and migration of the monarch butterfly while enjoying great food and drinks. There will be free-flying butterflies and you can see some of the butterflies being tagged with tracking numbers to assist with national efforts to track the monarch migration….

bee on swamp milkweed flower

News from Master Gardeners: soil blocks, swamp milkweed & more

Check out these two publications from Master Gardeners in Western New York–they’re full of great information. Learn about soil blocks in the newest edition of The Optimistic Gardener, produced by the Master Gardeners in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. You don’t need containers for seedlings when you have soil blocks, according to Mark Messinger, Master Gardener apprentice. “You can see the roots fill out the blockscompletely, and instead of swirling around and tangling themselves, each root just stopswhen it hits the…

bee on ironweed flower

Help the pollinators so they can help your plants in Western New York

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Master Gardener Program is celebrating National Pollinator month by sharing information and resources to help create a garden for your favorite pollinators. by Shannon Rinow, Master Gardener Coordinator, Chautauqua County Butterflies and honeybees may come to mind when you think of pollinators, but pollinators also include wild native bees (there are 450 native species of bees in New York State), beetles, moths, bats, wasps, birds, specialized flies and other beneficial insects. They all play an important…

looking at mint plant in Amherst NY

Garden Talks begin in Batavia & on line

The Genesee County Master Gardeners will hold monthly Garden Talks starting in February. Garden Talk programs start at noon and can be 30 to 60 minutes long, depending on the topic. They will be held on Thursdays. This free series is open to all, but registration is required. You can attend in person at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office, 420 East Main St., Batavia, or online via Zoom. To attend in person, contact Mandy at 585-343-3040, ext. 101 or For a Zoom…