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…

autumn trees at sunset South Park in Buffalo

Is your garden ready for winter? Last-minute checklist for WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko I saw a few snowflakes fluttering in the air yesterday evening, but you may live in an area of Western New York that got some snow accumulation. And all of us gardeners have experienced cold temperatures. A lot of us were caught off guard by overnight lows in the teens and brisk daytime temperatures. Just last week we could putter in the garden without a jacket! While we may see some milder temperatures this week, winter…

orange gladiolus

Gladiolus: How to get it through the winter in Western New York

Here’s a question from a reader: Is it necessary  or advised to cut gladiolus  down before winter? Thank you. I enjoy reading your tips. Diane  Wacker Town of Tonawanda I was surprised by this question. It never occurred to me that you might cut off the foliage; I thought you were supposed to bring in your gladiolus bulbs for the winter. Since I’m not a gardening expert, I asked my friend David Clark, who is a nationally known garden educator,…

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…

'Star of Holland' amaryllis at Buffalo Botanical Gardens by Stofko

Amaryllis reminder: Don’t cut off the leaves

by Connie Oswald Stofko Many of you may have received an amaryllis bulb or plant over the holidays, and you’d like to get it to rebloom indoors next year. It’s not hard to do. However, I’ve heard from a couple people that they were told to cut back the plant after it has finished blooming. Don’t do that! You need to keep the leaves on the plant. Through photosynthesis, the leaves will work to recharge the bulb. The plant needs…

savor the beauty poster copyright Stofko

Thought for the day: savor the beauty

by Connie Oswald Stofko Well, it’s official. This was the coldest February on record in Western New York. It’s been a tough winter. Some of us got seven feet of snow in November alone. Even areas of Western New York that don’t normally get much snow have two feet or more on the ground. People are tired of shoveling, of trying to walk on snowy sidewalks, of driving through snow. Then there’s the cold. Day after day of below zero…

Start seeds outside now using milk jug, other containers in ‘winter sowing’

by Connie Oswald Stofko This is actually an update of a tip from David Clark, the nationally known horticulture speaker who teaches at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. Winter sowing is great because it gives us gardeners in Western New York something to do when it’s cold and snowy out. You plant hardy seeds in old milk jugs or other containers and set the containers outside now. The seeds will know when they should sprout in the spring….

dandelion late November 2014 in Amherst NY

For the record, it’s not winter yet in Western New York; let’s make the best of our weather

by Connie Oswald Stofko It sure felt wintry in Western New York before Thanksgiving. When people ask me how much snow I got, I say: “Just 10 inches.” I emphasize the word “just.” In other years, 10 inches of snow before Thanksgiving might feel like a lot, but compared to the seven feet that other people got, it’s hardly worth mentioning. Yet after Thanksgiving, the weather got so warm it felt like the calendar was going backwards. It seemed as…