lemon balm illustration from Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz (1885)

Lemon balm & more in newest edition of Optimistic Gardener

Lemon balm, soil science and the many kinds of compost bins are some of the topics in the newest edition of The Optimistic Gardener.   The publication is produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Find the newsletter on the gardening page of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua (on the lefthand side) and in Cattaraugus (on the righthand side). An illustration of lemon balm from Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz (1885)…

snow on evergreen in Amherst NY

Winter solstice: days will be getting longer in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Surprise! Tomorrow is the first day of winter. Yes, Western New York has snow on the ground, and parts of Western New York got 80 inches of snow in November, but that’s just weather. We’re talking about how close–or far away– Western New York is to the sun. As the Earth spins on its axis, the Northern Hemisphere gets closer or farther away from the sun. When the Northern Hemisphere is at its farthest point, we…

bumble bee on Joe Pye weed in Amherst New York

Some native pollinators could become extinct in NYS; you can help

by Connie Oswald Stofko More than one-third of native pollinators in a recent survey are at risk of becoming extinct in New York State. “It is a sobering finding,” said Erin White, zoologist and project coordinator with New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP). The recently released Empire State Native Pollinator Survey 2017-2021 confirms concerns about the health of some pollinator populations in New York State, but there are things we gardeners can do to turn things around. Some findings about…

cardinal and sparrow in snow in Cheektowaga NY

Help researchers with Great Backyard Bird Count

The 25th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which will be held Friday, Feb. 18 through Monday, Feb. 21, is a way for you to help researchers right from your own backyard. Anyone, from beginning bird watchers to experts, can take part. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Each checklist submitted during the Great Backyard Bird…

squirrel closeup for featured image by Stofko

Squirrel tips:How to keep them from digging up your potted plants in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’re getting into the time when squirrels start to store acorns for the winter. I don’t mind when the squirrels stash their hoard in my lawn, but I do object when they dig up a container that holds perennials. Here’s a tip from Lyn Chimera of Lessons from Nature: To keep squirrels and chipmunks from digging up potted plants, cover the top of the soil with a layer of pea gravel after the container is planted….

dandelions in lawn

Dandelions can produce clones & more from WNY Gardening Matters

Dandelions can produce clones, according to an article by Carol Ann Harlos in WNY Gardening Matters. These common plants can use a process called apomixis, which is asexual reproduction without fertilization. The plants produced are identical to the parent plant. Read more here. Other new articles are: Article 161: Adapting Gardening to Your Physical Needs Article 163: Gardener Assistance with Monitoring Downy Mildews Affecting Cucurbit Plants and Basil Article 164: Pollen  WNY Gardening Matters is produced by the Master Gardeners…

red admiral butterfly

Citizen scientists: Help with BioBlitz on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor

by Connie Oswald Stofko Be a citizen scientist and help the Pollinator Conservation Association with its BioBlitz through Dec. 1 on the Outer Harbor in Buffalo. Help to discover and identify flora and fauna there to improve conservation planning for future projects. The area includes Times Beach, Tifft Nature Preserve, the Union Ship Canal, and all of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation land and State Park land on the Outer Harbor. You can post pictures and observations on INaturalist.org….

pussy willow

Advantages of willows that don’t weep, plus more from Master Gardeners

When you think of a willow, you probably think of a weeping willow (Salix babylonica), which originated in China. But if you want butterflies in your garden, you might want to choose native varieties of willow– they support at least 455 species of butterfly larva. Find out more reasons to plant native willows in the article Willows That Don’t Weep by Lynn Chimera. It’s one of the latest articles published in WNY Gardening Matters by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative…

tri-colored bumble bee

Help scientists track native pollinators

You can contribute to the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey to help scientists see which native pollinators are common and which may be declining. Native pollinators play an important role in the pollination of flowering plants, including native plants, wildflowers, garden plants and cultivated crops. The survey is targeting native bees, flies, beetles and moths. The Participant Handbook describes different ways you can participate. One of the ways is as a photographer. You don’t need a fancy camera, and you don’t even have…

monarch caterpillar

Help scientists through Caterpillars Count!

Due to climate change, the growing season in Western New York starts earlier than it did in the past. Are caterpillars and birds emerging earlier as well? Caterpillars Count!, a citizen science project, could use your help to find out if plants, insects and birds are all responding to ongoing changes in climate to the same degree. You can participate by counting arthropods such as caterpillars, beetles and spiders through Wild Spirit Education, located at 11511 Bixby Hill Rd., Delevan. You can also count…