bat illustration

Bat update: hopeful news for one species, work continues

by Connie Oswald Stofko Bat populations have suffered devasting declines for more than a decade, with a disease called white-nose syndrome playing a role. There still isn’t a treatment for bats suffering from white-nose syndrome, though a collaborative effort is working on it. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Department of Health are partnering with researchers from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and experts at universities across the country….

photo illustration of squirrels in apple tree

Help a reader: squirrels eating apples

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader: Hello, we have two semi-dwarf apple trees in our yard. I think an entire colony of squirrels have been eating apples on the tree. Any ideas to stop them would be appreciated. Kara StimsonOlean I haven’t experienced this problem, but maybe you have. How did you deal with this problem? Any suggestions? Please leave a comment below! Get more gardening tips See more questions & answers here. Find helpful articles…

garden on corner lot in Kenmore New York

Corner lot? Small space? Shade? Get ideas from this Ken-Ton gardener

by Connie Oswald Stofko Julie Wood liked the house on a corner lot, but the tiny front and side yards needed some TLC. There was an area that was supposed to be lawn, but grass couldn’t grow. And there were thorny bushes by the sidewalk. “Why put thorny bushes there?” Wood wonders. “So people wouldn’t cut through the grass?” The landscape has changed a lot since she and her husband Jason moved in about 10 years ago. She gave up…

purple loosestrife

Why are we again seeing purple loosestrife in WNY?

After not seeing purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in Western New York for many years, you may have noticed it making a comeback. This invasive plant used to be common until certain insects were released to control it, according to an article by Lyn Chimera in the most recent edition of WNY Gardening Matters. The insects were effective and loosestrife declined. But when the number of loosestrife plants declined, the number of insects also declined. This led to the return of…

giant allium in pot courtesy Mischler's in Williamsville New York

Reminder: Plant tulips, allium & other bulbs now for spring flowers

by Connie Oswald Stofko In spring, people see giant alliums in their neighbors’ gardens, then run into garden centers expecting to buy that plant, said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville. “You can’t buy them in spring,” Yadon said. The same goes for crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, fritillaria and other spring bulbs. If you want those flowers in spring, plant the bulbs in autumn. You can plant them now through mid-November, if you can still…

canna lily in Amherst NY

What plants do you overwinter in Western New York?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Canna lilies are tall, impressive plants that I’ve long admired in Western New York gardens. So when I visited the Master Gardener plant sale in Buffalo this spring and saw a whole area with cannas, I toyed with the idea of actually buying one. When a helpful Master Gardener explained the different varieties, I admitted I was hesitant to buy a canna lily because I’m a lazy gardener. I know you have to bring in the…

sparrow at birdfeeder in Western New York

Put your birdfeeders back up; birds no longer getting sick

by Connie Oswald Stofko Although the cause of the mysterious illness that was killing songbirds this summer is still a mystery, birds are no longer getting sick. You can put your birdfeeders and bird baths back up, according to an updated statement on All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To try to prevent the spread of the illness, home gardeners were asked to take down birdfeeders and bird baths so birds wouldn’t congregate there. The cause of…

ripe and unripe cherry tomatoes in Buffalo NY by Stofko

Reminder: you can ripen tomatoes inside

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you’re worried about damage to your tomatoes from late blight, frost or squirrels, pick your tomatoes when they’re green and bring them inside. The flavor and color is similar to that of a tomato ripened in the field, according to Cornell University. See all the details in this previous article. Late blight Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, hasn’t yet been identified in Western New York yet this year, but it has been seen…

New England asters

Asters, slimey goo & more in WNY Gardening Matters

Check out the articles in the latest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “The Beauty of Fall Asters: Native asters come in blues, purples, rose, pinks and white. Besides being beautiful, they are a very important late-season food source for pollinators, butterflies and insects. Ambush Bugs and Assassin Bugs: These two bugs got their names because of the way they kill their prey. Nostoc: What’s slimey, disgusting and gooey?…

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…