herbs covered with leaves

Last-minute gardening tasks to prepare for winter in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’ve had a long and pleasant autumn, but some Western New Yorkers have had to shovel already. Even if you still have grass showing, you know winter is on the way. Here is a list of last-minute gardening tasks to do to prepare your garden. Put away your breakables. Anything that’s breakable, such as glass garden ornaments, ceramic bird baths or ceramic pots, should be brought inside. There is a chance that wind might topple some…

watering racks of potted bulbs

Now is the time to start cooling bulbs to force during late winter

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can enjoy spring flowers inside during winter, weeks before they appear outside in gardens, but you may not want to do it the way they do it at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. First of all, they force bulbs on a grand scale. (Forcing is getting a plant to bloom at a time when it wouldn’t normally bloom.) Last week they planted about 21,000 bulbs in pots. They can’t plant more because “there’s…

flowers on sunchoke in Amherst NY 2013

It’s time to plant sunchokes; email me if you want some

by Connie Oswald Stofko I have sunchokes that I will share for free, but there’s one catch. You have to pick them up or get someone you know to pick them up. I just don’t want to have to mail them. I’m in the Eggertsville area of Amherst. If you don’t get out this way, you probably have a neighbor or cousin or coworker who does. If you’d like some sunchokes, email me at connie@buffaloniagaragardening.com so we can arrange for…

allium in pot and near bench

Now is the time to plant bulbs for spring flowers

by Connie Oswald Stofko “Alliums are flowers that people see in the spring, and they come in expecting to buy them,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville. “It’s showy and they think, ‘I’ve got to have that.’” Although these great flowers appear in spring, you have to plant them in fall. “Right now is the time to plant them,” Yadon said. You can plant them through mid-November, if you can still work the soil…

red lily leaf beetles mating

Could cedar mulch stop red lily leaf beetle?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Is it possible that there could be an easy way to keep the red lily leaf beetle from damaging lilies? A local gardener may have stumbled across a way: cedar mulch. John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, was contacted by the gardener. She had happened to put cedar mulch in the bed where she has lilies and discovered that the pests didn’t bother her lilies. “It might just be a coincidence”…

heuchera in Amherst

What perennials should you cut back in autumn & which add winter interest?

There are still lots of things you can do in the garden now. The Master Gardeners of Erie County have posted new articles in WNY Gardening Matters, including one on what to do in the garden in October. One of the tasks addressed was cutting back perennials. For winter interest, many gardeners like to leave rudbeckia, butterfly weed, mums, heuchera and grasses standing, said author Peggy Koppmann. But there are some perennials that just get ugly after frost and are…

How to overwinter tuberous begonias in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question from a reader: I have beautiful tuberous begonias that I want to overwinter. Do I have to take them out of the soil or can I bring the window box in? Rosemary K. Lyons, Buffalo I thought this was a question many readers might be interested in, so I took it to David Clark, a nationally known gardening educator who teaches the Horticulture I and Horticulture II classes at the Buffalo and Erie…

butterfly on aster in autumn

Hot autum weather breaks records; what it means for your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit– 22 degrees above normal– on Sunday at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, breaking the previous record of 88 degrees set in 2010. When I called the National Weather Service in Buffalo early Monday afternoon to find out about this hot autumn weather, it was already 89 degrees, breaking the previous record of 87 set in 2007. Not only is it unusual to have temperatures that are so much above normal, but…

Can you deadhead oakleaf hydrangea?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question from a reader: Hello , I was wondering if you know if it would be OK for me to deadhead my oakleaf hydrangea or if that would negatively affect next year’s blooms somehow. Seems OK to me but thought I would check before I do it! Donna, Town of Tonawanda First: Deadheading means cutting off the dead flower. I’m not a gardening expert, but there are lots of gardening experts in Western New…

hose in autumn garden

Don’t give up on your garden– keep watering!

by Connie Oswald Stofko Our summer was so wet, you may have fallen out of the habit of watering your plants. But the last few days have been hot and dry, and we may have a little more summer-like weather on the way. And even when our weather becomes more autumn-like, you need to keep watering! Don’t give up on your garden now! Here’s why: You probably have wonderful plants in your garden that you’ve been enjoying this summer– and…