red rose in early winter garden in Western New York

Five tips for your early winter garden in Western New York

  by Connie Oswald Stofko According to the calendar, we still have another month until the official start of winter, but I think gardeners will agree that winter has arrived in Western New York. Here are five tips for your early winter garden. Go outside and walk around in your garden While your garden probably doesn’t look as spectacular as is it did in July, you might find some lovely surprises, like the the red rose above that I spotted…

lake effect snow fall leaves Amherst NY

Lake effect snow: What can you do? Volunteer to report it!

  by Connie Oswald Stofko As I write this, some of us can see the grass on our lawns while other folks in Western New York have had to shovel. That’s the wonder of lake effect snow. The bands of lake effect snow (or rain) can be very narrow, so one small area can get dumped on while folks nearby get nothing. And that’s why meterologists need your help. Weather reporting stations can be 15 miles apart, while a band…

white shadows caused by trees and snow

‘Snow shadows’ are oddities of winter

  by Stephen Vermette Department of Geography & Planning, SUNY Buffalo State   After a light morning snowfall covered the ground, my wife noticed an interesting pattern in our front yard. The trees appeared to cast white shadows! This is just one kind of phenomenon I call snow shadows. There are many different types of these winter oddities, and some stretch into another season. Linear snow shadows The linear snow shadows that my wife spotted were caused by ground temperature….

aphids on oxeye daisy

Winter bugs: how they get on indoor plants & what to do about it

by Steven Jakobi, Allegany County Master Gardener volunteer   One of the hardest things for me when the weather turns cold is to let go of my annuals. I mean, these are my babies. I started them from seed early in the spring, nurtured them throughout the summer, saw them flower and fruit and then, with the first hard frost, I have to see them perish. To prevent their demise, I bring as many of them as I can into the…

blood twig dogwood Midnight Fire

Look for ‘two-fers’ for your garden; hear more at PLANT WNY event

by Connie Oswald Stofko Home gardeners aren’t planting acres and acres of gardens anymore, so we have to get more out of the few plants we choose to include in our landscapes, Kerry Ann Mendez told me in a phone interview. The award-winning garden designer, author and lecturer noted that the two largest age groups in our country now are millennials and baby boomers, and both groups are choosing smaller spaces. Millennials are gravitating toward urban settings rather than sprawling suburbs, and…

shrubs in snow

Winter is a good time to assess your yard

There may not be much growing in your garden right now, but that’s why it’s a good time to take a look at your landscape. Now is when you can see the skeleton of your landscape, said Peggy Koppmann, Master Gardener, in the latest issue of WNY Gardening Matters, published by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County. In the article “This Month in the Garden,” Koppmann suggests thinking about where you might put new shrubs. Winter…

herbs covered with leaves

Last-minute gardening tasks to prepare for winter in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’ve had a long and pleasant autumn, but some Western New Yorkers have had to shovel already. Even if you still have grass showing, you know winter is on the way. Here is a list of last-minute gardening tasks to do to prepare your garden. Put away your breakables. Anything that’s breakable, such as glass garden ornaments, ceramic bird baths or ceramic pots, should be brought inside. There is a chance that wind might topple some…

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…

Brown marmorated stink bug

There’s a new bug in Western New York and it might eat plants in your garden

by Dana Santasiero There’s a new bug in Western New York and there are two main things you need to know about it. First, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is called a stink bug because when you step on it, it smells. Second, it could eat the plants in your garden. The good news is even though it is big and ugly, it won’t hurt you. You might find it in your house over the winter but it’ll just be…

Christmas trees suspended from ceiling Goodman's Niagara Falls

How to keep your Christmas tree fresh until February

by Connie Oswald Stofko Ray Crawley and his family usually take their Christmas tree down around Jan. 1, but last year the tree was looking so good, they left it up until almost February. “I guess it’s like a flower arrangement,” Crawley said. Since it stayed fresh, they decided to enjoy it a little longer. Crawley is store manager at the family-owned Goodman’s Farm Market, 2227 Cayuga Drive Extension, Niagara Falls. Here’s how he kept his Christmas tree fresh so…