Sally Cunningham, The Buffalo News
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Sally Cunningham

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How interesting it was last weekend to meet hundreds of you at Plantasia, the garden and landscape show of PlantWNY. I began to make notes, collecting questions and looking for trends. Then I asked other landscapers, experts, and “plant people” what questions they were hearing. At risk of sounding overly proud of the Western New York horticultural community, I wi…

The 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show theme was “Holland: Flowering the World.” It was my favorite and one of the best ever according to many. Imagine walking among 30,000 tulips all in bloom, under a floating floral canopy, and passing a 30-foot windmill – with light show and music performed on the hour. My band of travelers had left a blizzard-riddled world the day bef…

Pruning is, in my opinion, the landscape job that more people do badly than any other task. (Watering is a close second.) Many homeowners do it poorly – typically flat-topping shrubs that don’t deserve it – and often at the wrong time of year. Some untrained landscapers might prune poorly as well. The educated landscaper (CNLP) has been trained in correct pruning …

Gardeners are eager for spring, no doubt, but we must restrain our impulses to uncover the plants, pull back the mulch, and walk around the garden. You do not have to tie yourself to the living room chair, however. Some early yard and garden tasks and preparations are best done in March and many people miss the moment. Let’s get going on the early season planning and …

Last week the shorts and tees came out of the dressers. Joggers jogged and dogs ran in the parks. Some people as well as plants became confused. Is it spring already? While the record-warm days of mid-February felt great for most people, it was not a good thing from a horticulture perspective. Wine grape producer Rick Walker commented: "The winter weather certainly has …

Winter is a great time to learn, plan and review, so I am presenting some basic gardening principles and practices this month. Most recently – if you missed a Friday – I covered groundcovers and vegetable gardening, especially the timing for spring planting and what to grow from seeds or seedlings. This week the topic is basic perennials: what everyone should know t…

Sometimes I teach vegetable gardening, as it was my original gardening passion and the topic of my first book writing for Rodale. I have learned to clarify some basic premises to make vegetable gardening easier for new gardeners or the experienced-but-confused. One of the most helpful things to understand is which plants are worth starting from seed, and which ones do best…

The topic of “Groundcovers” sounds mighty dull. Experienced gardeners and landscapers might even skip it, when it appears in a lecture or article. With the help of FLCC (Finger Lakes Community College) instructor Rochelle Smith I hope to provide some surprises and create some enthusiasm for these hardworking little plants – including many that aren’t so little at a…

I expected to be unimpressed when the keynote talk at the huge Tropical Plants Industry Expo (TPIE) was "Where Plants and Lifestyle Trends Connect." OK, I thought, we know this already: The younger set - the millennials — need to be brought into gardening. They are our future. They want everything to be instant, easy and healthy. Then the keynote speaker, Jane Lockhar…

The more I travel the more I’m struck by the commonality within the gardening industry and its people. Our hardiness zones, plant species, soils, seasonal challenges, and the timing of our tasks vary widely but horticultural principles are consistent – as are the passions of gardeners and the commitment of horticulture professionals. I am writing from Florida, where…

Current wisdom is that everything has changed in the world of books: how frequently people read online rather than in print, how people get their information, and what books sell. Some of these changes affect gardeners and naturalists too, but I see differences in this particular community’s relationship to books. Some books will remain on our shelves and have roles in o…

Jan. 1, 2017: I did some gardening today, unexpectedly. The sun had come out, the ice dam on the roof was melting, the deck needed shoveling, and I wanted to get away from the computer. I intended to shovel a little bit, fill the bird feeders, and hang up a large suet-seed cake. How surprising then to find out all the other jobs my garden and landscape called me to do. It …

Take a break from all your last-minute holiday preparations to take this short quiz on holiday plants and Christmas trees. It’s never too late to pick up some pointers and learn a few new things. (Answers at the bottom of this post. No cheating.)  True or false? 1. Today’s custom of the Christmas tree started in Germany in the 15th or 16th century. It was popula…

A national news show carried yet another story about Christmas tree prices rising sharply. That is not the case in Western New York (and certainly many other regions). But the widespread story is out, declaring that drought in many regions and wild fires in others have killed so many trees that there may even be a shortfall. Hearing all this, a family might give up its tra…