birch bark

Find better alternatives to silver birch in WNY Gardening Matters

People love the beauty of silver birch trees (Betula pendula) but have realized that variety is short lived and susceptible to the birch borer. Find other native alternatives that are more interesting in this article by Lyn Chimera. It’s in the current issue of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “Remember, if you want to plant a tree always check for an appropriate native first,” Chimera said. Other articles in this…

red admiral butterfly

Citizen scientists: Help with BioBlitz on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor

by Connie Oswald Stofko Be a citizen scientist and help the Pollinator Conservation Association with its BioBlitz through Dec. 1 on the Outer Harbor in Buffalo. Help to discover and identify flora and fauna there to improve conservation planning for future projects. The area includes Times Beach, Tifft Nature Preserve, the Union Ship Canal, and all of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation land and State Park land on the Outer Harbor. You can post pictures and observations on INaturalist.org….

graphic for drought watch

7 WNY counties now on ‘drought watch;’ what it means to gardeners

by Connie Oswald Stofko Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were recently added to the list of counties on drought watch, joining these five counties already on the list: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Orleans and Genesee. Wyoming County still has normal water conditions, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). A “watch” is the first of four levels of state drought advisories: “watch,” “warning,” “emergency” and “disaster.” See a map of current drought conditions here. Understanding drought watch A…

collage on climate change

How gardeners can understand & adapt to climate change

by Connie Oswald Stofko What does climate change mean for your garden? As the climate continues to change, how will you, as a gardener, keep up with the changes? This is Climate Week, and in this article we’ll bring you some resources to help you understand climate change and adapt as a gardener. Ebook on climate change for gardeners What do you see when you look at your garden? A flower here, a tree there, a butterfly over yonder? Your…

Skirmish over Queen Anne’s lace leads to bigger discussions

by Connie Oswald Stofko It all started about two weeks ago when an anonymous neighbor complained to the Town of Amherst about the front lawn of Walter and Nan Simpson. The Simpsons mow their lawn, but when an interesting plant pops up, such as Queen Anne’s lace, they mow around it. The neighbor didn’t like that. When a town inspector showed up, he deemed the Queen Anne’s lace to be a noxious weed, according to the town code. Since the…

make rain barrel

See DIY video on how to make a rain barrel; enter to win one

Rain barrels are pretty easy to make, and this video with step-by-step directions makes it even easier. The video was created by the Western NY Stormwater Coalition in partnership with the Central Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries. The rain barrel made in the video will be raffled off. To be entered into the raffle, click on the survey link in the Facebook post or go to the survey by clicking here. You can also watch a…

seed packet

If you get seeds in the mail from China that you didn’t order, don’t plant them

If you get seeds in the mail from China or other countries that you didn’t order, don’t open the seed packet and don’t plant the seeds. Consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union have been getting unsolicited packets of seeds from China and other countries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is investigating. At this point, it seems this is a “brushing scam,” where online sellers create fake orders to…

monarch on milkweed

New signs on garden walks, plus why you should try native plants

If you are going to share your landscape on any of our local garden walks, you can pick up a free sign to let visitors know that you use native plants in your landscape. And if you don’t use native plants, read on to see why you might want to add a few. Signs for gardens with native plants Native plants will be highlighted on garden walks this summer in a project organized by Gardens Buffalo Niagara and the WNY…

jumping worm Amynthas

Take part in Invasive Species Challenge; focus is on 4 species

Be a citizen scientist by participating in the NY iMapInvasives team’s 5th Annual Invasive Species Mapping Challenge from June 24 – July 8. Four species will be the focus of this year’s challenge:  Jumping worm Tree of heaven Water chestnut European frogbit You can help map the distributions of these species.  An introductory webinar will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 24. The webinar will cover the identification of these species and how you can participate. Visit iMap’s website for more information…

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,”…