monarch on milkweed

Is a plant from South America better than a cultivar in WNY?

by Connie Oswald Stofko A reader contacted me regarding a previous article on zinnias. The reader wanted native zinnias, and the zinnias described in the article were all cultivars, not native plants. No one around here sells native zinnias because zinnias aren’t native to Western New York. In the United States, zinnias are native only to the Southwest. Their range stretches all the way to South America. My reader replied: “I understand this, but they are at least native to…

wildflower garden in Tom Homme landscape in Pendleton NY

Rewilding: See how this WNY gardener turned lawn to wildflowers

by Connie Oswald Stofko The decorative gardens of Tom and Darcie Homme in Pendleton look great in winter, spring, summer and fall. I shared them with you in 2021. What I didn’t show you was the area where he was starting a wildflower garden. It didn’t look like much then, but it’s maturing now. He’s rewilding; turning some of his lawn back to nature. We can see the wildflower garden, as well as the decorative gardens, thanks to a video produced…

monarch on butterfly weed

30 x 30 Campaign: Takeaways from first meeting; get involved!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Nearly 100 people attended the first meeting on Saturday of the 30 x 30 Campaign for Western New York, which aims to have biodiversity on 30 percent of Western New York land and waters by 2030. (See our previous article here.) You can view the video of the meeting here. (Meetings will be in person only, not online, but meetings will be recorded. I’ll share the recordings here on Even if you couldn’t attend the meeting,…

logo for Western New York 30 x 30 campaign

30 x 30: You can help our planet right here in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Is one-third of your yard biodiverse? Does it have native plants and bees and other animals? If not, could you take steps toward more biodiversity? That small idea is just one part of the 30 x 30 Campaign for Western New York, which aims to have biodiversity on 30 percent of Western New York land and waters by 2030. You could help by changing a bit of your yard, or parks in your town, or forests…

Boxelder bug

Pesky boxelder bugs: read more in WNY Gardening Matters

Boxelder bugs are basically nuisance bugs, according to this article by Lyn Chimera in the newest edition of  WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. In autumn, boxelder bugs may go into your house to find a warm, dry place to spend the winter. Their droppings can stain walls, both inside and out. If you squish them, that can leave a staining, smelly mark. Find out more about boxelder bugs in this article….

illustration representing virus

New virus is striking tomatoes & peppers; see more

A virus new to the United States is striking tomatoes and peppers, according to this article by Beth Mattimore in the newest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is spread by tomato seeds. There are no current treatments or sprays that will cure infected plants. Tomato production worldwide is threatened. The virus has been seen in other parts of the world since 2015….

hellstrip with blooming native plants by Ellen Moomaw in East Aurora NY

More garden walks this weekend–three have night events!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Western New York again has a bushel of garden walks on the weekend, plus Open Gardens on Thursday and Friday. Three of the garden walks–Lockport, City of Tonawanda and Capen– have nighttime walks. One of the walks you can see this weekend is the East Aurora Garden Walk. At the home of Ellen Moomaw, you’ll be greeted with a lush garden in the hellstrip (the area between the sidewalk and the road). Many of the plants…

bee on swamp milkweed flower

News from Master Gardeners: soil blocks, swamp milkweed & more

Check out these two publications from Master Gardeners in Western New York–they’re full of great information. Learn about soil blocks in the newest edition of The Optimistic Gardener, produced by the Master Gardeners in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. You don’t need containers for seedlings when you have soil blocks, according to Mark Messinger, Master Gardener apprentice. “You can see the roots fill out the blockscompletely, and instead of swirling around and tangling themselves, each root just stopswhen it hits the…

lamium 'Pink Pewter' courtesy Ball Horticultural Company

Plants for dry shade & more at Mischler’s 69-cent sale; starts April 21

by Connie Oswald Stofko Shady areas can be a challenge for gardeners, and if the shady area is dry, that’s even more difficult. If you have an area like that, try planting lamium. “It’s drought tolerant,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses. “It grows in dry shade areas. That’s a hard thing to find.” What’s even better is that you can buy it during the 69-cent Perennial Sale at Mischler’s, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. The…

looking at mint plant in Amherst NY

Garden Talks begin in Batavia & on line

The Genesee County Master Gardeners will hold monthly Garden Talks starting in February. Garden Talk programs start at noon and can be 30 to 60 minutes long, depending on the topic. They will be held on Thursdays. This free series is open to all, but registration is required. You can attend in person at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office, 420 East Main St., Batavia, or online via Zoom. To attend in person, contact Mandy at 585-343-3040, ext. 101 or For a Zoom…