side garden on Ken-Ton night

Lighting gives yards ambiance during Night Lights in Ken-Ton

by Connie Oswald Stofko Jim Aichinger and Tim Kuntz’s gardens are lovely during the day. “But when the lights come on, oh, it’s wonderful back here,” said Kuntz. They shared their Cornwall Avenue landscape during the Night Lights portion of the Ken-Ton Garden Tour on Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. The daytime portion was held Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19. The front as well as the back is lit 365 days a year, Aichinger said, with…

tea house in Lancaster NY

Feel transported across the world in backyard tea garden in Lancaster

by Connie Oswald Stofko “Everyone comes to see the back,” said Rich Groblewski as he gave me a tour last week of his landscape at 14 Lombardy St., Lancaster. It seems like a nice suburban yard with a new arbor (the old one was crushed under seven feet of snow in the Snowvember storm), a fire pit, small pond and flowering plants. But walk a little farther back and you’ll see a path lined with bright red railings. Follow the…

garden retaining wall made of books in Hamburg NY

Creative garden retaining wall is made of books; see other examples of walls

by Connie Oswald Stofko Now is a good time to install hardscapes in your yard—things like paths, trellises and retaining walls for raised beds and slopes. Here’s a creative idea for a retaining wall that I saw at Plantasia in March. It’s made out of old books. While this wall was in place for only a few days and was displayed inside a building where it never got rained on, I think it could work in the real world. The books wouldn’t…

hellstrip with flowers in Buffalo NY view from sidewalk

Tips for planting an unused space: the ‘hellstrip’ between street & sidewalk

by Connie Oswald Stofko People call it the “hellstrip.” It’s that section between the sidewalk and street where people generally grow nothing but grass. It’s where the plows deposit the heavy, salty snow from the street. Garbage cans get tossed there. Dogs do their business there. What in the world could you grow there? Flowers and herbs. That’s what Elaine Clutterbuck of Buffalo grows in the three-season garden she has established in her hellstrip. This past summer her garden was…

Fascinating green roof project under way in Springville; you can help

by Connie Oswald Stofko The Springville Center for the Arts is seeking volunteers to start seedlings for its green roof project. You’ll get seeds that you are asked to start in containers and nurture until they’re ready to be transplanted onto the green roof. You don’t have to live in Springville to participate. In addition to the seedling program, volunteers are needed for the installation of the green roof on the building that the arts center is rehabilitating at  5 East Main…

steps in Whittemore garden in Hamburg NY

A natural slope adds interest to colorful shade garden in Hamburg; garden walks are coming!

by Connie Oswald Stofko A natural slope combined with raised beds add interest to the Hamburg yard of Barb and Dave Whittemore. “There are seven steps to the top deck,” Dave pointed out. “We really have vistas with this. The elevations make a world of difference. That’s one thing I really enjoy.” A screened-in seating area is perched at the top of the garden looking down on the main part of the yard. “You can sit up there and see…

red windows and trellis at DiMino in Lockport

I want that: How to apply what you see on garden walks to your own yard

by Connie Oswald Stofko What is this garden showing me? That’s what gardening expert Sally Cunningham will help you learn in one of four talks she will present during the WNY Home & Garden Expo at the Fairgrounds, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg. The expo will be held 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb 19; noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. I’ll…

Database helps you find trees, shrubs that work for your garden in WNY

  by Connie Oswald Stofko When we’re planning our gardens, so many of us forget about what should make up the backbone of our gardens: trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs are larger than most other plants in your garden, so you want to plan around them. Once you plant them, they should stay put–It’s harder to relocate a tree placed in the wrong spot than it is to move a 12-inch flower. Trees can be expensive, too, so you…

Got clay? Don’t want to dig? Want a new bed over lawn? Try lasagna gardening in autumn

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s autumn, and here’s an outside project you can do today: create a lasagna garden. Lasagna gardening is a method where you apply material to your garden bed in layers, like in a lasagna. Lasagna gardening has several advantages: You don’t have to till or dig your garden bed. The technique works with clay or other poor soil. You can create a new bed over lawn. It’s not labor intensive. It’s organic. You don’t have to…

Foundation planting in Illinois 1925 from Laura Burchfield

Early 20th century innovations include lawns, foundation plantings; learn more at talk

by Connie Oswald Stofko We don’t live the way people did at the turn of the last century, and that’s reflected in our landscapes, said Laura L. S. Burchfield, co-author of American Home Landscapes: A Design Guide to Creating Period Garden Styles. Back then, people had outhouses. They needed a space for livestock. An area called the drying yard was set aside for hanging laundry. By the 1920s and ’30s, there were garages for cars, large lawns and even stone…