graphic for drought watch

7 WNY counties now on ‘drought watch;’ what it means to gardeners

by Connie Oswald Stofko Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were recently added to the list of counties on drought watch, joining these five counties already on the list: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Orleans and Genesee. Wyoming County still has normal water conditions, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). A “watch” is the first of four levels of state drought advisories: “watch,” “warning,” “emergency” and “disaster.” See a map of current drought conditions here. Understanding drought watch A…

hail damage on hostas

Will your hostas & other plants recover from hail damage in WNY?

by Connie Oswald Stofko I was one of the gardeners who experienced hail last week– it was the size of fat M&Ms! That wasn’t the only setback weather brought to Western New York gardeners in the past few weeks. “Some of us got hit with a five-day period of frost and freeze in mid-May,” said Kathy Guest Shadrack, board member and communication liaison with the Western New York Hosta Society. “Sadly, this came after a long period of abnormally warm…

garden in snow by Stofko

Winter makes a surprise visit—What it means for your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Last week, I told you it was it was leaf season and gave you ideas on how to use all those autumn leaves. But before we could get the leaves raked — many leaves are still on the trees! — we got snow that broke records for Nov. 11. So what does all this snow mean for your garden? Snow provides insulation — yay! “I don’t think this is going to be a bad thing,” said…

Tips & inspiration for wild winter weather in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko and Stephen Vermette We’ve had some wild weather in the past week: lots of snow, wind, an official blizzard, and dangerously cold wind chills. But yesterday it felt like spring, with strong sun and temperatures around 60. Now some areas have flooding, and more flooding is possible. Tomorrow we might get freezing rain. Later in the week the forecast is for rain, then snow. Find out what you can do in your landscape in these changing conditions, and remember…

snow and Autumn leaves in Amherst NY

New tool helps you understand climate change in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Find out how climate change is affecting your garden through a new online tool that provides county-level information on how the climate has changed since 1950 and what you can expect in the future. Called Climate Change in Your County, the tool was launched recently by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. It tracks average annual temperatures, high and low temperature trends, length of growing season and annual growing degree days. It also offers precipitation trends and…

snow in Amherst garden

Which was better for our gardens– this winter or last winter?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Last winter was bitterly cold, but there was a lot of snow cover to protect perennials. This winter has seen some swings in temperature, which can be bad for perennials. I thought our gardens might have liked last winter better than this winter. Not so, say my gardening experts. “Definitely this year is better, hands down,” said Teresa Buchanan, Teresa Buchanan, general manager at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, 4484 Clark St., Hamburg. Note that she’s in the South…

path to front door in Snowvember storm 2014

One year after Snowvember Storm, some WNY gardens still feeling effects

by Connie Oswald Stofko I was talking with some gardeners recently who began to commiserate about how poorly their roses did this year. Since mine did quite well, I was surprised to hear they had problems. Then I remembered where I was– South Buffalo, one of the areas hardest hit by the Snowvember Storm. That lake-effect storm hit a year ago next week, Nov. 17-21, 2014. In just a few days, they got a whole winter’s worth of snow– seven…

How to care for Christmas cactus in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Jeff Wilson, who has a Christmas cactus that is probably more than 85 years old, shares some tips with us on how to care for these wonderful indoor plants. We met Wilson and Luis Martinez on Garden Walk Buffalo where they shared their ideas for shade gardening. Wilson’s oldest Christmas cactus is a plant they call “Grandma” because it came from Wilson’s maternal grandmother. However, it had originally been owned by her mother, Wilson’s great-grandmother. Grandma…

Forest Lawn & Re-Tree WNY seek volunteers to plant trees

Forest Lawn & Re-Tree WNY seek volunteers to plant trees from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1 and 2 at Forest Lawn, 1411 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. No experience is necessary; a brief training session will take place each day. Children under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. During this event, about 300 bare root deciduous hardwood trees will be planted throughout Forest Lawn as part of Forest Lawn’s ongoing efforts to “return the forest…

cactus in bathtub in Tonawanda NY

There’s a 9-foot cactus in a bathtub– & that’s just the beginning

A double-tub wringer washer, a bucket for a milking machine and a pan from a salad bar are some of the items that have been found new uses in the garden of Terry and Debbie Calway on Hampton Parkway in Tonawanda. The Calways’ garden was among the more than 50 gardens open to visitors during the Ken-Ton Garden Tour on July 21 and 22. In the photo at left, a huge coffee machine on the Calways’ front porch becomes a…