Sally Cunningham, The Buffalo News
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Sally Cunningham

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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…

Every year I am amazed to witness the speed of changes in the garden in spring. Especially this season, on the rare days when cold and rain turn to warm and sunny, the plants appear to be producing leaves and shoots at record rates. We may spot a few failures – plants that could not tolerate soggy conditions – but most plants should look lush and green as the rains …

Mother’s Day calls for flowers, and your choices are many: the old classic orchid corsage, a bouquet of cut flowers, or the popular spring baskets of violas, fragrant Lobularias or myriad other container plants. For something more lasting for Mother’s garden, thousands of you are likely to choose a rose. No flower elicits nostalgia and tender memories quite like a r…

After a rainy period weeds come out easily, and there’s no better time than now to get ahead of the problem. The old adage – “One year’s seeds, seven year’s weeds” (English proverb) – quite like Ben Franklin’s “A stitch in time saves nine,” is relevant. Weeding now will prevent mass reproduction and save you from future back strain and aching hands. …

Like most gardeners last Sunday, I imagine, I was outside for as many sunny hours as I could manage, doing spring yard and garden tasks. Most of us don’t need lists: We just go out there. Even without a plan, what-to-do leads us forward. It was a joy to clean up the deck, patrol the yard for branches, and to make a small start in flower, fruit and vegetable beds. As a…

Piles of brush, leaves and sticks are mounting at curbsides all over Western New York (and in many other regions). I understand people’s urge to clean up after winter leaves its debris behind – fallen leaves, dead branches, and trees knocked down after windstorms. But it is disturbing to me, at an elemental level, to see so much organic matter pushed to the curb whe…

Learning directly from impassioned teachers is still better than all that Google and websites can offer. At least that is my experience from attending seminars and conferences in the gardening and landscaping world. It was obviously true for the 50-some attendees who came to hear Roxanne McCoy teach "Creating a Cutting Garden" at Lockwood’s Greenhouses last Saturday. …

When it comes to kids, I think that very few of us – gardeners or simply grown-ups – are really experts on how to share our love of gardening or nature. We’re lucky we have elementary school teachers who know how to engage children in science topics, and what material is suitable at what age. We’re lucky to have our Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens with…

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…