arborvitae bent in snow in Hamburg New York

How to deal with snow damage in your WNY garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko “What a crazy thing this was!” said David Clark, who got about 80 inches of snow at his Hamburg home during the recent snow storm. The amount of snow dropped in Western New York varied. Buffalo’s Southtowns area was hit hardest while areas in the Northtowns got a foot or two. The snowfall varied in other WNY counties as well, with some parts getting just a few inches. If your landscape felt the brunt of the…

evergreens in pots in Williamsville NY garden

Tips for winter garden: keep pots from cracking; evergreens are a must

by Connie Oswald Stofko Now that it’s autumn, have you turned your back on your gardens, or will your landscape give you pleasure even throughout winter? Keep your autumn and winter gardens appealing with these two tips from Jay Jinge Hu, who shared his Williamsville landscape on Open Gardens for the first time this year. Keep ceramic & cement pots from breaking in winter I have always advised gardeners to bring their concrete or ceramic pots inside for the winter….

snow peas in November in Amherst New York

Plant now in WNY: cool weather veggies

by Connie Oswald Stofko There’s a whole group of herbs and vegetables that you can grow now–from seed! These herbs and vegetables may take a month or two–even three months– to reach maturity. By then the weather will be cool, cold or freezing, but these plants like it that way. If you’ve never tried planting a crop of vegetables that you harvest in autumn or winter, try it this year. There are so many cool weather herbs and vegetables to…

plants in winter in Amherst NY

What you need to know about plant hardiness zones in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko When you’re buying perennials (or trees and shrubs), you want plants that will survive the winter and come back the next year. What plants will work for you depends on where you live. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard that helps you determine which plants are most likely to thrive in your location. You can look at the map to find your zone, or you can type in your street address. The…

pruning tree in winter

Winter is good time to prune trees

Do you have a tree that needs pruning? Winter is a great time to make any necessary cuts, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It’s easier to see the branches and assess a tree during winter when it doesn’t have its leaves. In addition, pruning when insects aren’t active helps lower the risk of a fungus or disease (such as oak wilt) entering the pruning wound. Learn more about pruning trees here: See the article…

sowing seeds on snow in Western New York

Sow seeds right on top of snow in WNY!

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’ve talked about winter sowing before, and here’s another method for planting seeds outside during winter. I got this great tip from Linda Blyth of the Town of Tonawanda. “This is what we do with poppies, cleome, datura, bells of Ireland and a few others: sprinkle these seeds on top of the snow,” Blyth said. “Why? Because they all need a period of cold in order to germinate! Have you ever tried planting seeds in the spring…

mini-greenhouse made from recycled plastic milk jug in Buffalo NY

Reminder: you can plant seeds outside now using winter sowing

by Connie Oswald Stofko Yes, I know there’s snow on the ground and temperatures have been in the single digits here in Western New York. But here’s a gardening task you can do outside now: plant seeds. It’s called winter sowing. You do it by making a mini-greenhouse and using seeds that take cold temperatures. Plant the seeds in your mini-greenhouse, set it in a sheltered area (such as against a fence) and wait for spring. When the temperatures get…

harvesting sage in early winter

Don’t desert your garden yet! Tasks for early winter weather in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko I wasn’t sure whether to use “early winter” or “late autumn” in the headline. Technically, winter doesn’t start until Dec. 21. Yet we have already gotten snow and more is in the forecast, so I went with winter. Then again, the snow keeps melting, and many of us still have leaves on the trees. Maybe we should call this season “wintumn.” Whatever you call it, there are still tasks you can do in your garden. Harvest…

canna lily in Amherst NY

What plants do you overwinter in Western New York?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Canna lilies are tall, impressive plants that I’ve long admired in Western New York gardens. So when I visited the Master Gardener plant sale in Buffalo this spring and saw a whole area with cannas, I toyed with the idea of actually buying one. When a helpful Master Gardener explained the different varieties, I admitted I was hesitant to buy a canna lily because I’m a lazy gardener. I know you have to bring in the…

lettuce and kale plants

Reminder: Plant now for fall, winter crops

by Connie Oswald Stofko You can plant a second crop of cool weather vegetables now in Western New York. As the name implies, cool weather vegetables actually like cooler temperatures. Cool weather vegetables include basil, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, peas, radishes and spinach. Here are some reasons why you should try planting cool weather vegetables now: Plants such as lettuce won’t bolt in the autumn like they do when temperatures get warm in spring. Basil likes warm night temperatures…