Sally Cunningham, The Buffalo News
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Sally Cunningham


It’s “triage time,” the toughest time of year for me and many other gardeners. What plants can I take inside, store outside or in the basement, or plant now? And which plants must I let go – turn them into the soil or compost pile? Outside plants Perennials, shrubs and trees still in pots require a decision now. They are the plants you were so excited to find. …

Storms are on our minds this week, as we have watched the people, animals, buildings and shorelines of Florida assaulted by Hurricane Irma. We don’t worry much about hurricanes here: A recent report listed Buffalo as the fourth-safest city in terms of natural disasters, even if we experience some much-publicized snowstorms. What we do and should worry about: wind and …

Certain plants take center stage as summer wanes, no matter where you live and what you define as summer. Whether you garden in a temperate climate with cold winters (most of Western New York) or in milder maritime zones (much of Ireland or England for instance), the late summer gardens have certain characteristics. Flowering perennials are generally taller than spring …

Last week a band of Americans flew to Ireland with me to visit gardens and historical sites. Some also wanted to experience the country from which many of our ancestors emigrated. Many of the group — from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, New York City and Florida — had specific expectations: Perhaps we would see small, pretty gardens (that might not achieve the standards …

Some of the plants that showed off for our garden-peeping tourists and guests during July and early August are still going strong: tall Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’, daisies and perennial geraniums that were cut back, reblooming roses, and late daylilies. But then what? I recommend a late summer driving tour to the garden centers of Western New York to see what else co…

Thousands of people visited the gardens of Western New York in July and early August, many from distant states and countries. This week 344 of the visitors were garden writers (or bloggers, photographers, teachers) coming from as far away as Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico, California, Florida and Iowa. They cast their eyes upon the gardens, met the gardeners, dined and …

This weekend you may see six large motor coaches driving to the Southtowns, roaming the gardening neighborhoods of Buffalo, and visiting our parks and public gardens. The giant buses are filled with tourists we very much want: guests who will write about us, take pictures, post, blog and publish. It’s the garden writers from across the United States and Canada, who ha…

Astoundingly, many people in our region have not yet experienced Garden Walk Buffalo although it’s the largest garden tourism event in the country. An estimated 70,000 people walk The Walk every year. (It’s an elusive number, almost uncountable, but it’s a guess based on the number of maps picked up.) I have guidance for new walkers and endorse the event with unfe…

Last weekend I had only limited time to visit gardens during the Buzz Around Hamburg Garden Walk. Still, the experience in just three gardens reminded me of the value of the whole regional phenomena. (Western New York offers five weeks of walks, tours and Open Gardens that comprise about 1,000 private gardens that you can visit.) No matter where you go, gardens will sur…

Change happens fast in our yards and gardens during June and July. Wonderful plants dazzle us with their growth and some soar through their peaks of performance. Problems also show up quickly: weeds, a few troublesome insects, and several weather-related diseases. Let’s take a walk around our collective gardens, share some observations, and see if I can answer some…

On a hot and muggy Saturday afternoon this week I had just about the most fun a gardener could have. On Friday I’d received a surprise crate of summer flowering bulbs from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and it was my time to play. It was Christmas. It was my birthday. Someone watching might think the project looked like a lot of work, but gardeners know: This is the kind of …

My daughter bought a house. It’s an exciting moment for a parent, but even more so for this parent because the place has no garden or landscape. It’s a blank slate, and she wants my help. Even when it’s not in the family, it is good when a landscape professional can help a new homeowner – before mistakes are made. The right adviser can save you, young buyer or d…

As a newcomer to gardening in the 1980s I learned to identify and grow all kinds of perennials and vegetables. Yet while driving the roads of Western New York I did not know what I was seeing: “What are those flowering trees and shrubs in people’s yards and on village streets? What are the wildflowers stretching across the fields?” Later as a certified nursery and…

Thousands of people are flowing through checkout lines in garden centers this month. They have chosen their plants. The cashiers scan the plant tags, and often ask, “Do you have the compost (or mulch or potting mix) you’ll need?” Those questions are more than add-on sales techniques. Sales staff or cashiers ask them because the customer probably does need some pro…

When is it time to take the houseplants outside? It’s not about the calendar. It’s about the weather, especially nighttime outdoor temperatures. Most houseplants are comfortable when night temperatures remain above 55 degrees. Many survive lower temperatures, but some plants do not. Each genus has its own limits of tolerance. Timing is also about you – how warm…