Art, nature & philosophy mix in this landscape on Hamburg Garden Walk

by Connie Oswald Stofko “Come to the party! Life is a feast,” said an enthusiastic Jack Edson, expressing his outlook on his gardens and his life. I visited his landscape last year on the Buzz Around Hamburg Garden Walk. He touched on many topics, including nature, art and philosophy. As he discussed the mulberry trees in his yard, Edson noted that they have a painterly quality. He pointed out the light and dark of the mulberry leaves, and compared that…

total eclipse of the sun

Total eclipse of the sun: what it means to gardeners in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko I felt a weird energy. That’s the best way I can describe what it was like during the partial eclipse of the sun here on Aug. 21, 2017. It was something like the beginning of a lightning storm. The feeling was subtle and short—I felt it for perhaps half a minute—but it was an interesting thing to experience. What will it be like when Western New York sees the total eclipse of the sun on Monday,…

lesser celandine in Amherst NY

Lesser celandine: spread the word about this horrible plant in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners in Western New York have the opportunity to address the problem of lesser celandine. That’s because lesser celandine is right in our own backyards. Or front yards. Or the lawns and gardens of our neighbors. If you don’t know what lesser celandine is, read on. And if you are already familiar with this invasive plant, please tell others. Tip: Our weather has been warm, and lesser celandine may be coming up sooner than it has…

Plant stand made with recycled prescription bottles in Amherst NY

Make a plant stand with free materials: plastic prescription bottles

by Connie Oswald Stofko Every month, when I ran out of my prescription medicine, I would get a new supply of pills in a new bottle. Then I would throw the empty bottle from the previous month into the trash, and it would end up in a landfill. I would throw out another bottle the next month. And the next month. And the next. I hated to throw out the bottles, but the recycling company in our area doesn’t take…

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…

tiny Laricobius Nigrinus beetles that eat the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Thousands of native beetles set off to combat insects that threaten hemlocks

1,700 tiny native beetles called Laricobius Nigrinus (or affectionately called Larry, short for Laricobius), were released at Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area in November. It’s hoped that the beetles will find and eat the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that threatens native eastern hemlock trees. Over time, the woolly adelgid can kill the hemlocks, which are an important tree species in Zoar Valley. The hemlock is a foundational species; it’s key to the ecosystem. By protecting the hemlocks, we’re protecting…

egg clusters of spotted lanternfly on tree

What do spotted lanternflies look like now in WNY?

Spotted lanternflies (SLF), invasive pests that have been identified in Western New York, look different in different seasons. Right now you should look for egg masses. The adults lay eggs from September through November or until the first killing freeze. The egg masses start out white and change colors over a few weeks to pinkish and then to brown. The egg masses are about one inch long. Eggs can be found on any outdoor surface from October through June. Good…

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…

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 Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com.) Even if you couldn’t attend the meeting,…