daisy fleabane in Amherst NY backyard

Weed or volunteer in your WNY garden: daisy fleabane

by Connie Oswald Stofko Sometimes we get plants that just show up in our gardens. If we want to keep those plants, we call them volunteers. If we don’t want those plants in our garden, they’re weeds. An interesting plant arrived in one of my garden beds this spring. I didn’t know what it was and wasn’t sure whether it was going to be a volunteer or a weed. It grew about five feet tall and got pretty little daisy-like…

common ninebark courtesy Dow Gardens, Bugwood

Free native plants, nationally known author & more at Plant for Nature!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Get a free native plant, hear the author of The Humane Gardener, and find out more about how you can create a wonderful garden that works with nature rather than against it. It’s all part of the event Plant for Nature! to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 4 at the WNY Welcome Center, 1999 Alvin Rd., Grand Island. It is hosted by the Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment, which received a…

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…

wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens

Native wintergreen, plus more from WNY Gardening Matters

American wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), a native plant, is an appealing evergreen groundcover, according to this article in the most recent edition of WNY Gardening Matters. Its glossy leaves emit a pleasant teaberry scent when crushed. Its white flowers are tinged with pink in summer and develop attractive red berries. There’s another evergreen groundcover with the common name of wintergreen, but it’s in an entirely different family. Learn more about spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata) in this article, too. Also in this…

bee and hose and compost represent sustainable gardening

NEW: ‘Sustainable Gardening’ course starts Saturday at Botanical Gardens

by Connie Oswald Stofko “Sustainable gardening works with nature so you don’t have to do as much work trying to control pests, diseases and soil issues,” said David Clark, CNLP. Clark, a nationally known horticulture educator, will teach the new series of horticulture classes on sustainability. Classes will be taught from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays starting this Saturday, Jan. 22 in the Administration Building at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo. These classes are…

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…

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…

dunes with native grass on Lake Ontario courtesy Roy Widrig

Use native plants along shores of Lakes Erie & Ontario– see new guide

Private property owners as well as municipalities can use a new guide to select plants to revitalize the shorelines of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Working With Nature: A Guide to Native Plants for New York’s Great Lakes Shorelines was recently released by New York Sea Grant, part of a nationwide network of 34 university-based programs working with coastal communities through the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The guide offers nature-based alternatives to traditional “gray” or hard structures such as rock rip-rap (rocky material placed along…

New England asters

Asters, slimey goo & more in WNY Gardening Matters

Check out the articles in the latest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “The Beauty of Fall Asters: Native asters come in blues, purples, rose, pinks and white. Besides being beautiful, they are a very important late-season food source for pollinators, butterflies and insects. Ambush Bugs and Assassin Bugs: These two bugs got their names because of the way they kill their prey. Nostoc: What’s slimey, disgusting and gooey?…

flower on common milkweed in Amherst NY

For butterflies & fragrance, choose common milkweed!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you like butterflies, you probably have a kind of milkweed called butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa). You may even have swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Consider adding common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to that mix. Not only is it a plant that monarchs love, it gets a pretty flower– and it’s fragrant! Dan Murak pointed out the fragrance this summer when I visited his landscape, which was shared on the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View. Another thing I like about common milkweed is that…