monarch flying off swamp milkweed

Monarchs are in danger; how you can help in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Monarchs should be on the endangered species list, said Jay Burney, executive director of the Pollinator Conservation Association (PCA), based in Western New York. For years there has been a massive decline in monarch butterflies, but last year the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declined to add the monarch to the endangered species list, Burney said. The FWS said there will be a yearly review and the monarch will stay in the running for…

dew on blades of grass

Reminder: Don’t fertilize lawn until spring

by Connie Oswald Stofko Your lawn is dormant now, so there’s no need to fertilize. And in New York State, you’re not permitted to use any kind of chemical fertilizer on your lawn from Dec. 1 to April 15. By prohibiting fertilizer application in winter, the New York State Nutrient Runoff Law aims to keep these chemicals from running off your lawn and polluting our waterways. Get some tips on green practices for your lawn and garden here from the…

seating area with grape vines in Kenmore NY

Broken fence became wall for charming outdoor room

by Connie Oswald Stofko A wooden fence used to separate this backyard from a parking lot. Unfortunately, plows clearing the lot shoved snow against the fence, and the snow won. Matt and Tashia Tribo of Kenmore replaced the collapsed fence with a cinder block wall and coated it with a veneer of stucco. The wall, which is as beautiful as it is functional, is part of a charming outdoor room. The Tribos’ garage and their neighbors’ garage act as the…

harvesting sage in early winter

Don’t desert your garden yet! Tasks for early winter weather in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko I wasn’t sure whether to use “early winter” or “late autumn” in the headline. Technically, winter doesn’t start until Dec. 21. Yet we have already gotten snow and more is in the forecast, so I went with winter. Then again, the snow keeps melting, and many of us still have leaves on the trees. Maybe we should call this season “wintumn.” Whatever you call it, there are still tasks you can do in your garden. Harvest…

center garden in autumn in Pendleton NY

Want a great autumn garden in WNY? Get inspiration here

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can have a lovely garden in all seasons of the year. To find out how it’s done, I visited Tom and Darcie Homme in Pendleton. I showed you their gardens in winter, in spring, in summer and now in autumn. Of course, what you see in these articles are just moments in the life of the gardens. The plants change continuously throughout the seasons. That seemed especially true in this season. In September I posted…

Canadian anemone

Periwinkle is invasive; see 5 better alternatives for Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko I have enjoyed periwinkle in my garden, but it’s time to consider some alternatives. Periwinkle or Vinca minor is used as an ornamental groundcover. The leaves are glossy and the purple flowers are a delight. Here’s the problem: This invasive plant can easily spread outside of our gardens. It invades natural spaces, gets established and pushes out the native plants. It offers nothing to insects, birds and other animals. When it comes to control, periwinkle or…

illustration for lasagna gardening by Stofko

Reminder: It’s easy to start new garden over grass in autumn in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you want a new garden in spring, prepare it now. There’s no digging involved and it will be ready for you when it’s time to plant. This works even if you have weeds and clay soil. Use the lasagna gardening method. You lay out material in layers, like a lasagna. The first layer is cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper. Over the top of that, alternate layers of whole leaves, chopped leaves, manure, grass…

fallen autumn leaves in Amherst NY

Reminder: How to use all those great autumn leaves in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Those autumn leaves are gold for your garden. Here are some of the ways you can use them. Help your lawn When you mow your grass, chop up the leaves as you go. Those bits of chopped leaves are good for your lawn– they return nutrients to the soil. See this short video from Cornell School of Integrated Plant Science. Compost leaves Adding leaves to your compost pile will help your kitchen scraps break down more…

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…