lawn in yard using permaculture

This Grand Island landscape is suburban in front, natural in back

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s like visiting a home out in the country–depending on what side of the house you’re on. In front, the home of Denise and Don Freedman has a typical suburban landscape. In back, it’s more natural, with fruit trees, a rain garden and trees that were there when they bought the land. They’ve been using permaculture techniques before they ever heard that word. What does permaculture mean to them? “It’s using your land to your advantage,”…

pussy willow

Advantages of willows that don’t weep, plus more from Master Gardeners

When you think of a willow, you probably think of a weeping willow (Salix babylonica), which originated in China. But if you want butterflies in your garden, you might want to choose native varieties of willow– they support at least 455 species of butterfly larva. Find out more reasons to plant native willows in the article Willows That Don’t Weep by Lynn Chimera. It’s one of the latest articles published in WNY Gardening Matters by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative…

Elle Pots at Mike Weber in West Seneca NY

Mike Weber’s introduces ‘4-packs without the plastic’

by Connie Oswald Stofko You’re probably familiar with four-packs and six-packs, those plastic containers that hold four or six small plants. This year Mike Weber Greenhouses is introducing something called Elle Pots. “Think of a four- or six-pack without all that plastic,” said Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca. The Elle Pots start with a tube of strong, biodegradable paper that is filled with potting mix. Seeds or cuttings are planted into…

tomato plants ripening inside in autumn

How to keep growing tomatoes on the vine after frost

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s nothing like the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes, but frost will stop tomato production cold. There are ways to try to protect your plants from frost, but it can be difficult to accomplish. (See some tips here on how to prevent frost from damaging garden plants. So last year when Judy Clark of Hamburg excitedly told me, “It’s the end of November and I’m still getting fresh tomatoes,” you can bet that I wanted to know…

Hosta 'Sum of All'

Three tips on overwintering perennials in containers

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s time to think about some simple steps to overwinter your plant. These tips should work with any kind of perennial that is winter hardy; that is, any perennial that would come back in spring if it was planted in a garden bed over the winter. Bonus tip: Before we get into that, let me say that I was impressed by this stunning hosta at the home of Marcia and David Sully in Eden. I’ve written…

urn with plants at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House

Bring the outdoors in: ideas from Wright’s Martin House

by Connie Oswald Stofko Bringing nature indoors was an aim of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famed architect who designed the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. Wright wanted the Martin family to be able to enjoy nature even when they were inside. Rather than being an afterthought, the landscape was an integral part of the architectural design. That landscape, designed more than 100 years ago, has now been brought back to life. “We tried to re-create what had been here by…

alocasia 'Regal Shields'

Monumental growth in one season; you can get these plants now

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you are aching to garden, check out exciting tropical plants called elephant ears and red banana plants, which can grow to impressive heights by the end of summer. The best part is that you don’t have to wait to get started — you can grow them inside now! Those are are some of the plants you’ll be able to buy next week at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses’ booth at Plantasia. Plantasia, Western New York’s premier…

lettuce plants in box on chair in Hamburg NY

Bad knees, no yard, little money? You can still garden!

  by Connie Oswald Stofko “I have so many friends who say, ‘I can’t garden anymore,’ said Margaret O’Brian of Huntington Ct., Hamburg. As they get older, they have bad knees or other ailments that they didn’t have to contend with when they were younger. She tells them: “You may not be able to garden like you used to, so just switch it up.” One way to do that is through container gardening. Container gardening is planting things in pots and other…

flowers and vegetables in front yard

4 tips on using containers to create a gorgeous garden

  by Connie Oswald Stofko Previously I showed you my experiment with a container garden on my front lawn. That container garden wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, but I learned a lot and tried it again. This time it was successful and my neighbors told me they loved it, too! It didn’t look like much in May or June, but in July the plants filled out and it was gorgeous. We had a mild autumn, and the container…

spider plant

Caring for spider plants, plus more tips from Master Gardeners

Spider plants are popular for indoors because they look great with a waterfall of foliage and little “spiderlets” of leaves. They’re easy to care for, too, according the article in this month’s edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County. Read more about spider plants here.  Also in this month’s edition, read: Fall fungi, which discusses mushrooms that pop up in your lawn Crazy about clematis This month in the garden,…