caryopteris wide angle

Mums are nice, but think outside the box for autumn color in your garden

Adventures in Organic Gardening By Laura Sileo-Lepkyj Mums are everywhere now. Heck, you can even buy them at gas stations. I’ve got fifteen dollars on pump number three, this Slim Jim, and oh, a burgundy cushion mum, please. While I do love mums’ bushy blooms and their pungent smell, I have other plant friends that bring a different look to my garden. Rest assured they require only loving neglect, as I’ve talked about in previous columns. Caryopteris “Sunshine Blue,” seen…

ivy arch in Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens

Beautiful and versatile, ivy gets its own exhibit at Botanical Gardens in Buffalo

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you think ivy is boring, you don’t know ivy. Consider: Ivy can be grown indoors and outdoors. It can be sculpted into topiaries small enough to fit on a tabletop, or grown into huge swags that drape across an entire room. Ivy is lovely by itself in a pot, but it can also be used in window boxes and flower arrangements. An ivy plant can live 100 years or longer. An adult ivy becomes a…

Brad and Scott from Buffalo ReUse with cold frame

Make a cold frame to extend growing season

by Connie Oswald Stofko A cold frame is a terrific way to extend the gardening season. These can be used like  mini-greenhouses during the autumn in raised beds to keep lettuce or spinach growing, and in the  spring to keep tender tomato seedlings warm. Buffalo ReUse recently held a free workshop on how to build a cold frame. The workshop was led by Brad Kujawski, left, green space coordinator for ReUse, and Scott Kozak, resource educator for ReUse, right. If…

swing set in large Buffalo yard

Surprisingly large backyard is hidden in Buffalo

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s plenty of room for the Thomson children to play in this huge backyard in the City of Buffalo. From left are Hunter, 11; Mackenzie, 5, and Evelyn, 8. The Thomsons shared their yard during Garden Walk Buffalo on July 24 and 25, and visitors were amazed that such a large expanse was located at 55 Hodge, not far from Children’s Hospital. The L-shaped yard extends approximately 180 feet away from the back deck, then actually…

Joe Pye Weed Chocolate in Buffalo rain garden

Here are some good native plants for your rain garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Native plants and flowers are strongly recommended for your rain garden because these plants have the greatest chance of growth and survival in Western New York. Using native plants also means low maintenance– you won’t need to water. Last week, we discussed building a rain garden and how rain gardens help keep our water clean. We showed you the rain garden at the Crane Branch Library in Buffalo, and we promised more information on  plants for…

rain garden at Crane Library Buffalo

Rain gardens are low maintenance, help the environment

by Connie Oswald Stofko Whether you’re striving to protect our natural resources, or you just want to create a low-maintenance garden, a rain garden may be what you’re looking for. Pictured here is a rain garden that was created in June at the Crane Branch Library, 633 Elmwood at the corner of Highland, in Buffalo. As we explained in an article on rain barrels last week, the biggest pollution threat to Lake Erie and the Niagara River is sewage runoff….

tomatoes organic gardening

A minimalist approach to vegetable gardening

Adventures in Organic Gardening By Laura Sileo-Lepkyj You know the “Set it and forget it” motto on the infomercial? That’s the kind of gardener I am. I set the plant in the ground and forget about it. I describe my method as survival-of-the-fittest gardening. No special coddling, practically zero watering, and certainly no umbrellas set up to protect delicate plants from the sun. Seriously? People actually do that? If it doesn’t survive where I plonk it, it just wasn’t meant…

tall grass in median garden in Buffalo NY

Medians get makeover on Minnesota Ave. in Buffalo’s University Heights

The median gardens that were started 10 years ago on Minnesota Ave. in Buffalo had begun to fade. Residents who had been active in maintaining the gardens “moved, passed away or got tied up with their busy lives,” said Yvonne Brown, a member of the Minnesota Avenue Block Club. The median gardens got new life this year with funding from a City of Buffalo Livable Communities Block Grant, private donations and donations from the residents themselves. “Now we’re working on…

Nick Fratello of Black Rock in Buffalo

Nick Fratello, 11, offers tips on attracting birds to your garden

“I’ve been into birds for a really, really long time; probably six years,” said Nick Fratello, 11. That’s why he prepared an exhibit on garden plants that attract birds, which he displayed at a booth at headquarters for the Black Rock and Riverside Tour of Gardens on Aug. 7. He also handed out tip sheets. His tip sheet begins with hummingbirds. While there are hummingbirds in Western New York, the only kind you’re likely to find here is the ruby-throated…

gardeners conserve Great Lakes

Gardeners can play a role in conserving Great Lakes

Clean water is a precious commodity, and as a gardener, you can play a role in conserving in the Great Lakes. That was the message of Larry Brooks, who does communications for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, in a Gardening Mondays talk downtown at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Living on the shores of the Niagara River and Lake Erie, it seems that water is one thing we shouldn’t have to worry about.  After all, one-fifth of the available fresh…