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…

rain

Drought watch ends in WNY; don’t burn leaves

Six Western New York counties have been taken off drought watch: Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.  The drought watch was designated in August due to the below-normal precipitation during the previous three months. There have also been low stream flows and low groundwater levels. The status of these counties was changed Oct. 9 because of recent rainfall and higher levels of ground and surface water. Now all of Western New York is is in the normal range. A…

frost

Dealing with frost in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko The official first day of autumn arrived last Thursday, and immediately, it seemed, Western New York temperatures took a nose dive. An overnight frost advisory was issued last week for Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. This week overnight temperatures may dip into the 30s in many parts of Western New York. That’s significant because frost can occur even if the air temperature is above freezing, according to our previous article. The article also explains why even 36-degree…

pansies in a watering can at Mischler's in Williamsville NY

Get pansies now to brighten outdoor spaces, large & small

by Connie Oswald Stofko Pansies are in bloom now and can add color to your garden, porch or patio. While cold temperatures won’t kill pansies, temperatures in the 20s Fahrenheit can damage the blooms, said Jessica Limardi, who is on the staff at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. Nightime temperatures may get that low in the coming week. “Without a good thick blanket of snow, the flowers can get damaged, so pull them close to the…

purple crocuses in Amherst NY

Gardening tasks for early spring in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko After weeks of snow covering our gardens, we can see plants again here in Western New York! The sun has been shining. At times, the weather’s so warm, you can be outside without a sweater. We can tackle some gardening tasks now that we couldn’t do just a couple of weeks ago. But it’s still early spring and the weather fluctuates. The afternoon warmth can be followed by freezing temperatures at night. A stretch of warm…

autumn leaves in Letchworth State Park by Stofko

Sept. 22 is first day of autumn; leaves beginning color change in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko The official start of autumn is tomorrow and the Chautauqua-Allegheny region is beginning to show fall color, according the most recent Fall Foliage Report produced by ILoveNY.com. Reports are issued every Wednesday afternoon, so tomorrow’s report may reflect more Western New York areas where the leaves are beginning to change color. The reports signal when leaf color is just beginning to change, at the midpoint, at near peak, at peak and past peak. Caterpillar damage If leaves on your…

hand holding hail in Snyder NY

Hail damaged your plants? What you can do in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko by Connie Oswald Stofko A narrow band of weather dropped hail– some of it as large as peas– in Western New York on Friday. A localized hail storm a few weeks ago damaged plants in some gardens in Niagara County, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. Hail can shred the leaves of your plants and bruise the stems. Will your plants survive? It depends on how badly damaged they were….

agastache, phlox and aster

Quiz time: What’s the deadline for planting perennials in WNY?

by Connie Oswald Stofko I like gardening quizzes because they’re fun. If you get the answer right, you feel smart. And if you don’t know the answer, you learn something new. See the answers and explanations below the questions. 1. What is the deadline for planting perennials in WNY? A. Memorial Day B. June 15 C. Middle of September 2. What is the best way to water your plants? A. Place a hose near the base of the plant and…

daffodils in garden in spring

Daffodils sprouting in winter: What you should do

by Connie Oswald Stofko I got this question from a reader: I was wondering if there is anything I can do with the daffodil bulbs which are starting to sprout leaves out of the ground because of the mild weather. I am hoping that I don’t lose all of them by the time the cold and snow cover them. Michelle I checked with John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. Here’s what he said: “This can…

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…