healthy plants at Mike Weber Greenhouses in West Seneca NY

How to choose healthy plants in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko You’re at a garden center and you have found the variety of plant you want. There are several specimens to choose from. You pick up a pot. Is the plant you hold in your hand healthy? If it has something wrong with it, how would you even know? Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca, explains what you should look for when buying garden plants.   Perennials and shrubs…

snow peas in November in Amherst New York

Plant now in WNY: cool weather veggies

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s a whole group of herbs and vegetables that you can grow now–from seed! These herbs and vegetables may take a month or two–even three months– to reach maturity. By then the weather will be cool, cold or freezing, but these plants like it that way. If you’ve never tried planting a crop of vegetables that you harvest in autumn or winter, try it this year. There are so many cool weather herbs and vegetables to…

watering cans on bench in Orchard Park NY

200 gardens to visit this week in WNY!

by Connie Oswald Stofko In other areas of the United States, there might be 15 private gardens to visit in one year. In Western New York, there are about 200 gardens to see this week alone! Open Gardens begin this Thursday and Friday, and six garden walks take place this weekend. Open Gardens Open Gardens start Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8. Like garden walks, you can visit these private gardens at certain times and days. Instead of being…

hose slowly watering plant

Reminder: Water when it rains & water when it doesn’t

by Connie Oswald Stofko I once saw a garden that was the kind I wanted to have. It was full of healthy, vibrant flowers. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the plants in that garden were the same ones I already had in my own garden. “Why doesn’t my garden look like yours?” I asked the gardener. “What are you doing that I’m not doing?” Her response: “Water when it rains; water when it doesn’t.” Think about it. You might…

wandering dude hanging baskets at Mischler's in Williamsville NY

Recharge houseplants outdoors while they fill in your landscape

by Connie Oswald Stofko Several weeks ago, the folks at one garden center suggested I do an article about houseplants–in summer! That’s an odd topic for this time of year, I thought to myself. Then another garden center suggested the same thing. When a third garden center brought up houseplants, I knew I had to find out more. Here are some reasons to pay attention to houseplants in summer: Healthier houseplants Your houseplants will grow better outside because they can…

mock orange at Graycliff in Derby NY

Graycliff in bloom: fragrance & color with (kind of) native plants

by Connie Oswald Stofko Choosing native plants for our gardens seems like a recent trend, but native plants were used in landscaping about a hundred years ago. Ellen Biddle Shipman, the pioneering landscape architect who worked on the gardens at historic Graycliff from 1929 to 1931, chose native plants for the picking garden. The plants she used were native somewhere in North or South America, but not necessarily native to Western New York. For example, she chose lantana, which is native…

hairy bittercress weed

Hairy bittercress & more in WNY Gardening Matters

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is a weed you may see at this time of year, said Carol Ann Harlos in WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. This plant and other ephemeral spring weeds pop up when the earth warms, quickly bloom and produce seeds. When the seeds are ripe, they shoot out and wait until autumn to germinate and grow. Depending on the conditions, several generations of plants can occur before…

bees on swamp milkweed

It’s Pollinator Week! Get tips on how to make your yard inviting

by Connie Oswald Stofko Pollinator Week is all about spreading awareness of the butterflies, bats, birds and bees that are essential to plant reproduction. Find out how you can help protect pollinators. Pollinator video Provide a place for pollinators by making your backyard a better habitat for plants, insects and birds. Watch the video Green Your Backyard from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It gives great tips you can use whether you have a large suburban…

hide garbage can in garden in Buffalo NY

Why didn’t I think of that?–tips from WNY gardeners

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s wonderful to enjoy the beauty of the hundreds of gardens that we get to visit here in Western New York. It’s even better when we get an idea that we can use in our own garden! Here are five simple tips to make your garden extra special. In the photo above, you see lots of flowers in bloom. But what don’t you see? Garbage cans! Two simple doors hide what could be an ugly distraction….

eastern cicada killer compared to Asian giant hornet

Reminder: No murder hornets in WNY; how to identify lookalikes

by Connie Oswald Stofko “We do not have Asian giant hornets (also known as murder hornets) anywhere in Western New York,” said Sharon Bachman, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. We ran an article about murder hornets in October 2021. We didn’t have any in Western New York then and we still don’t have any. I keep hearing from people who think they have spotted murder hornets–or even insist that what they encountered was…