autumn leaves in Letchworth State Park by Stofko

Sept. 22 is first day of autumn; leaves beginning color change in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko The official start of autumn is tomorrow and the Chautauqua-Allegheny region is beginning to show fall color, according the most recent Fall Foliage Report produced by ILoveNY.com. Reports are issued every Wednesday afternoon, so tomorrow’s report may reflect more Western New York areas where the leaves are beginning to change color. The reports signal when leaf color is just beginning to change, at the midpoint, at near peak, at peak and past peak. Caterpillar damage If leaves on your…

flower on common milkweed in Amherst NY

For butterflies & fragrance, choose common milkweed!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you like butterflies, you probably have a kind of milkweed called butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa). You may even have swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Consider adding common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to that mix. Not only is it a plant that monarchs love, it gets a pretty flower– and it’s fragrant! Dan Murak pointed out the fragrance this summer when I visited his landscape, which was shared on the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View. Another thing I like about common milkweed is that…

composite image for Growing Gowanda event

Turning Gowanda brownfields into tourist destination, agri-hub

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gowanda, a once-industrial village left with 18 contaminated or underutilized properties, is working to revitalize itself by becoming a destination for agri-tourism and a hub for agriculture businesses. Not only that, it aims to reinforce and strengthen all the agriculture in this region. Find out more and get a taste of agri-tourism at Growing Gowanda from 5 p.m. until dark this Friday, Sept. 10 at 10 Industrial Place, Village of Gowanda. It will be set up…

wild turkey

Help count wild turkeys in your area of Western New York

It’s not uncommon for Western New York gardeners to see turkeys trotting through a nearby field or even across their own lawn. How many wild turkeys are there this year? That’s what the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would like to know. And they’d like your help. During August, you can participate in a survey, recording how many adults and poults (young of the year) you see during normal travel. To make a report, click the “Summer…

earthworm compared to jumping worm

Jumping worms are serious threat for WNY–Don’t share soil!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Asian jumping worms can damage your soil, making it difficult for plants to grow in your garden. Jumping worms have been identified in Erie County and may be in other parts of Western New York, too. The bad news is that there’s not much we can do to get rid of Asian jumping worms. The good news is that we can try to prevent spreading them. Don’t share soil– your garden soil could contain jumping worms…

don't use lawn fertilizer with phosphorus

Don’t use phosphorus on your lawn; ‘Look for the Zero’

To keep our Western New York waterways clean, go phosphorus-free when using lawn fertilizer and “Look for the Zero.” On a fertilizer bag, you’ll see three numbers. The number in the middle is for phosphorus. For lawns, choose a fertilizer that has a zero in the middle. Excess phosphorus is a threat to many New York waterbodies, triggering algae blooms and sometimes rendering waters unswimmable and unfishable, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). That’s why…

Spotted lanternfly egg masses

Report egg masses that might be spotted lantern fly in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Now is the time to watch for and report egg masses of the spotted lanternfly (SLF). It’s an invasive pest from Asia that feeds on a variety of plants including grapes, hops and maple trees, posing a severe threat to New York forests and agriculture. You can volunteer with NY iMapInvasives to look for SLF and its preferred host plant, tree-of-heaven, which is also an invasive species. Controlling infestations of the tree can help stop the spread…

American chestnut tree

American chestnut among offerings in tree seedling sales

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you’d like to help perpetuate the native American chestnut tree, check out the tree seedling sales in Western New York. Three counties are offering the native specimens. See details on the tree seedling sales below, and get tips on how to plant your tree seedling to maximize its chances for success. American chestnut The American chestnut seedlings are being offered in sales in Erie County, Niagara County and Genesee County. The American chestnut (Castanea dentata),…

cardinal in snow by Stofko

Where have the birds gone & what can gardeners do about it?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Have you noticed that you haven’t had as many birds at your bird feeder lately? The cause is simple: lack of snow. Something you probably didn’t notice is that the number of birds in North America is down by almost 3 billion birds since 1970. That’s a big concern, but there are things that gardeners can do to help. No birds at your feeder? A reader left this comment on a previous article: I live in…

bee covered in pollen on swamp milkweed

Support fireflies, plus 4 more reasons to get rid of some of your lawn

by Connie Oswald Stofko Attract fireflies, support pollinators, save yourself some work and have cleaner air. Those are some of the benefits you can reap when you get rid of some of your lawn. Support pollinators Pollinators include butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. To support them, turn a section of your lawn into a garden and include native plants. Native plants are better than non-natives in providing what native pollinators need: nectar, pollen and seeds, according to the New…