treetops and cloud in Hamburg NY

Be careful where you get your science news

by Connie Oswald Stofko As a gardener, you should be aware of climate change. You should also know that there is a lot of misinformation out there on climate change, so be careful. A lot of folks get their news through Facebook or other social media, but their friends may share posts without investigating them first to see if the information is correct. Here’s an example of a post that claimed that global temperatures went down in 2016, when they…

use shovel to cut grass away from patio

Reclaim your patio, plus other garden tasks for autumn

by Connie Oswald Stofko This would have been a great weekend for raking leaves. The sun was shining, the weather was mild, and I wanted to do something outside in the yard. Unfortunately, most of the leaves in my neighborhood are still firmly adhered to the trees. This happens to me at this time every year. I have to look around for things to do in my garden and yard. Here’s one task: reclaim your patio or sidewalk from your…

bee on aster

Autumn weather has been beautiful in WNY– Will we pay for it?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Until this week, it felt more like summer than autumn in Western New York. Last week I was wearing shorts, then yesterday I snuggled into a winter jacket. There was scattered frost overnight last night in Western New York. But as they say,  if you don’t like the weather in Buffalo, wait 10 minutes. Tomorrow, Wednesday, it should be back into the 70s. All of this is normal for Western New York, said Judy Levan, Warning…

fall mums budding and in flower

Our hot September weather means mum season is just starting

by Connie Oswald Stofko Last week the calendar said it was autumn, but it still felt like summer. Mums thought it was still summer, too, and they were late in blooming this year, said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. Usually Labor Day is the beginning of the mum season, but the mums weren’t flowering yet due to what is called heat delay, he said. Because of the hot weather, mums are 10…

cloudless sky by Stofko

WNY is under drought warning; please conserve water

by Connie Oswald Stofko As of last week, Western New York is under a drought warning. Residents are asked to conserve water. A warning is the second of four levels of state drought advisories: watch, warning, emergency and disaster, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). While the Southern Tier got some rain the weekend of July 30 and some scattered areas of Western New York may have gotten a bit of rain since then, it…

compost around perennials

Want to water less often? Try using mulch

by Connie Oswald Stofko Have you gotten any rain lately? If so, lucky you! I’ve been hearing forecasts of thunderstorms, and I happily anticipated having my rain barrels refilled. But we got only lightning. There was barely enough rain to dampen the porch– and the areas under the plastic lawn chairs stayed dry! We’re significantly below average for precipitation, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The last summer that was comparable to this was…

holly raguza,

Let’s clear up confusion on using bark as mulch

by Connie Oswald Stofko You may have heard that using bark as mulch is good because it provides nutrition for your plants, or that it’s bad because it eats up nitrogen making the nitrogen unavailable to your plants. The article Woof! No, Bark! clears up the confusion on using bark as mulch. This article is in WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners in Erie County….

Liatris spicata. Photo courtesy Ball Horticultural

Is it too early to plant liatris bulbs in Western New York?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question I received from a reader early last week when the weather became warm and sunny: Hello. Can I plant liatris bulbs now? Or should I wait until the soil warms?  Thank you. Linda in Tonawanda In case you’re not familiar with this plant, here’s a little bit of information about liatris. It blooms in summer with large flower spikes that attract butterflies. The plant is drought-resistant, so it doesn’t need much care. It…

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…

annuals in pots in Amherst NY

What does this mild autumn weather mean for Western New York gardens?

by Connie Oswald Stofko What’s up with this warm weather in Western New York? We can’t predict these things with 100 percent accuracy, but because of El Niño, it looks like we are going to have a mild autumn and early winter, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. Our winter may not be as cold as the two previous winters have been, “which would be nice for a change,” he added. We may not…