fence in Orchard Park NY

Make your garden more welcoming with fences

by Connie Oswald Stofko Fences are usually used to keep things in, like pets, or to keep things out, like rabbits and deer. But fences can also make your landscape more welcoming. Here are two examples from the large Orchard Park landscape of Pat Gurney, who I visited last year during Open Gardens. (See her tips on using annuals and perennials here.) The photo at the beginning of this article shows a long fence between a sunny area and a…

pansies in a watering can at Mischler's in Williamsville NY

Get pansies now to brighten outdoor spaces, large & small

by Connie Oswald Stofko Pansies are in bloom now and can add color to your garden, porch or patio. While cold temperatures won’t kill pansies, temperatures in the 20s Fahrenheit can damage the blooms, said Jessica Limardi, who is on the staff at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. Nightime temperatures may get that low in the coming week. “Without a good thick blanket of snow, the flowers can get damaged, so pull them close to the…

purple crocuses in Amherst NY

Gardening tasks for early spring in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko After weeks of snow covering our gardens, we can see plants again here in Western New York! The sun has been shining. At times, the weather’s so warm, you can be outside without a sweater. We can tackle some gardening tasks now that we couldn’t do just a couple of weeks ago. But it’s still early spring and the weather fluctuates. The afternoon warmth can be followed by freezing temperatures at night. A stretch of warm…

pergola in garden in Amherst NY

More from the seven-garden guy in Amherst

by Connie Oswald Stofko You don’t have to know everything about gardening to enjoy a wonderful garden. “If you ask me the name of the plant, I have no idea,” said Jim Bardot, who has seven magnificent gardens in his front yard in Amherst. If you’re a gardener who doesn’t like to keep track of plant names, don’t let that hold you back. Get inspiration from what Bardot has accomplished. See an overview of his front yard here and see…

pruning tree in winter

Winter is good time to prune trees

Do you have a tree that needs pruning? Winter is a great time to make any necessary cuts, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It’s easier to see the branches and assess a tree during winter when it doesn’t have its leaves. In addition, pruning when insects aren’t active helps lower the risk of a fungus or disease (such as oak wilt) entering the pruning wound. Learn more about pruning trees here: See the article…

perennial gardens Buffalo NY

Gardeners ditched the barbecue & created an oasis in Buffalo

by Connie Oswald Stofko When Kevin Lickers bought his West Side home in 2007, the small backyard had absolutely no gardens. “There was nothing here. I’m not kidding you. No flower beds,” he said while gazing at the colorful expanse of perennials that fill the yard now. What the yard did have was a big grill. “It was distracting, Lickers said, “and we don’t barbecue much.” He and his partner Ricardo Arce got rid of the large barbecue (they use…

seed packets from Botanical Interests

Reminder: It’s time to start seeds for cool weather veggies in WNY

Some cool weather vegetables can be started inside now–or soon–depending on the last frost date in your area. Other seeds are sown directly outside. As their name implies, cool weather vegetables can withstand cooler temperatures in the air and soil, which means you can plant them outside in early spring. Cool weather vegetables include broccoli, kale, cabbage, collards, endive and onions. See this previous article where Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager of Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market, explains the details of starting cool…

sowing seeds on snow in Western New York

Sow seeds right on top of snow in WNY!

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’ve talked about winter sowing before, and here’s another method for planting seeds outside during winter. I got this great tip from Linda Blyth of the Town of Tonawanda. “This is what we do with poppies, cleome, datura, bells of Ireland and a few others: sprinkle these seeds on top of the snow,” Blyth said. “Why? Because they all need a period of cold in order to germinate! Have you ever tried planting seeds in the spring…

annuals along pat in Orchard Park NY

Orchard Park gardener shares tips on annuals in sun, shade

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s a lot to see in Pat Gurney’s large Orchard Park landscape, but what surprises many people when they visit during Open Gardens is her use of annuals. Gurney uses annuals to add color to shady areas, to fill in areas when perennials are done blooming and to add height or interest in an area. She uses a lot of containers, setting them wherever they are needed. Though she uses annuals, trees and perennials are the…

statues of face, dragon and Chinese warrior in Amherst NY garden

Statues & negative space can add a lot to your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko “I find a statue, then think, ‘What can I plant around it to accent it?’” said Jim Bardot. The statue that was the inspiration for this garden is the Chinese head, situated in the very center. “It sat by itself in the backyard for years,” Bardot said. “I placed it here, I placed it there, then I brought it out front and found other things to go with it.” This Asian garden is one of the…