maple seeds on tree in Western New York

Sales of tree seedlings under way; schools can get free trees

You can buy tree and shrub seedlings through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation or through various counties. There are deadlines to order. Seedlings are also available to schools free from the State DEC. State DEC More than 50 species of trees and shrubs will be available from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery. We often think of trees as being ornamental or providing food, but they can be used as wind…

street trees in autumn in Western New York by Stofko

Grants available for Arbor Day & tree projects; urban tree of year is chestnut oak

Arbor Day grants Applications are due Feb. 28 for grants for small communities to have an Arbor Day tree-planting event and to establish a community- based forestry program. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to communities or nonprofits that work in partnership with communities to celebrate Arbor Day 2017 by both planting a tree (or trees) and forming a volunteer tree committee or tree board within the municipality. Get more details on the grants and an application. The…

blue hydrangea in Western New York

Choose the right plant to keep gardening fun; hear author at PLANT WNY event

by Connie Oswald Stofko There are hydrangea plants that have blue flowers only when planted in acidic soil. In neutral soil, the flowers are pink. That means that if you want blue flowers and your soil is neutral, you have to add a lot of acid to your soil to get the flower color you want. You may be making more work for yourself than you want. “Ornamental plants should only bring you joy,” said Andrew Keys, writer, plantsman and lifelong…

oak leaf on pine needles

Take steps now to have great soil next year

by Connie Oswald Stofko A couple of simple tests can tell you what steps you have to take to improve your soil– or let you know that you are already on the right track. There are three kinds of tests you might do, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The first is a pH test to find out how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Farfaglia recommends that every gardener do this test at…

organic garden in Cambria NY

Tour acres of gardens, get organic gardening tips during Lockport in Bloom

by Connie Oswald Stofko When some people go on a garden walk, they want to visit only the gardens that are clustered closely together. If you do that on Lockport in Bloom, you’ll miss this treasure. Jan and Craig Powley have seven acres of land– Three acres are horse pasture, and the horses provide a ready supply of manure for the organic flower gardens and vegetable gardens and the remaining acreage. You can see these gardens in person on the…

hose slowly watering plant

If you want to keep your plants healthy, water them properly now

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s been a dry spring in Western New York, and now that summer is officially here, well, it’s still dry. Gardeners I’ve talked to all say the same thing. Thunderstorms that were predicted passed right by. Even when we got rain, there wasn’t enough to help our gardens. While the beach-goers are loving this weather, what we as gardeners should be hoping for is a good, all-day soaking rain, said Teresa Buchanan, general manager at Lockwood’s…

shrubs in garden in Lancaster NY

Shrubs & trees rescued from the trash find good homes in Lancaster

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s something you wouldn’t guess when you look at the garden island in the backyard of Ron and Kathleen Krebs on South Irwinwood, Lancaster. All of those shrubs and trees, including the large arborvitae on one end and the red twig dogwood on the other, were picked out of the trash. And they’re not the only plants in the Krebs’ yards that were rescued. About 50 “orphaned” shrubs and trees that had been tossed to the…

elderberry sambucus black lace

Want flowers? Think of smaller, compact shrubs

by Connie Oswald Stofko When you’re shopping for plants for your garden, don’t overlook shrubs. Many shrubs will give you lovely flowers, and there are smaller, more compact varieties of shrubs available that won’t overpower your yard, said Ray Crawley, store manager at Goodman’s Farm Market, 2227 Cayuga Drive Extension, Niagara Falls. First, let me assure you that there’s still plenty of time to plant things in your garden. There’s no rule that says you have to get all of…

leaves on American chestnut tree

Arbor Day: Blight-resistant American chestnut, tree tours, choose trees for your garden & more

by Connie Oswald Stofko Arbor Day is coming up on April 29, so let’s take some time to talk about trees. Find out about the progress toward saving the American chestnut, take tree tours, choose trees for your own landscape and more. Blight-resitant American chestnut Before the turn of the last century, the eastern half of the United States was dominated by the American chestnut. Because it could grow rapidly and attain huge sizes, the tree was often the outstanding…

Shrubs included in Great Plant Sale pre-order; deadline is April 8

by Connie Oswald Stofko For the first time, shrubs will be offered for pre-order in the Great Plant Sale of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. In the past, some shrubs were available on the day of the sale, but this is the first time you can pre-order them. As always, wonderful perennials, annuals and grasses will be available, too. The deadline for pre-ordering is April 8. You’ll pick up the items at the Great Plant Sale. The days…