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Sally Cunningham


Gardening

Winter doldrums, the time of wishing and waiting – that’s February for most gardeners. It’s a fine time for planning and reading, but there are some practical things to do as well, both outdoors and in. First, go outside when the sun is shining. You can go do these things outside when it’s cloudy too, but a February warm-up is the time you’re most likely to put on the w…

Gardening

It may seem early for you to think or read about your lawn – or turf, as it is called in the lawn and landscape business. February is indeed too early for us to do anything about the lawn, but it’s necessary to talk about it this soon for one reason: The lawn care ads begin this month. They glamorize perfect lawns and press you to commit to product lines that are allegedly…

Gardening

Last week I attended the Tropical Plants Industry Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It isn’t just for Southern gardeners. The vendors and exhibitors are mostly wholesalers (just a few retailers) including 6,000 attendees from 45 states and 34 countries. They influence and sell to stores all over the United States where most people buy plants and plant-related products. I lu…

Gardening

How quickly we forget. Only two weeks ago, there were 2 feet of snow on many of our driveways and porches. My house had a 2-by-2-foot ice dam column, roof to deck. Cars and sidewalks were buried, and people – many who shouldn’t be shoveling – put hours into uncovering them. Then it melted and typically everybody moved on and forgot the stresses (until the next time). …

Gusto

Gardeners and homeowners are asking about the effect of this deep freeze, especially if they invested in new trees and shrubs recently. I spoke with a Spectrum customer service rep in North Carolina this week (who solved my problem very well by the way) and even she was worried about her plants – just different ones. Which plants will be damaged depends upon the spec…

Gardening

We’re in the depth of winter. Extreme cold challenges people and animals. Discarded holiday trees are collecting on the roadsides. The piles of snow make pickup difficult for road crews but most towns have programs to collect the trees and turn them into mulch. If you live in a house and have a yard you have an alternative to putting the tree on the curb, and you can pr…

Gusto

A man walks into a garden center. It’s Dec. 24. He asks the sales person, “What should I get for my … ?” Here the story can go several ways. The gift could be for (a) his wife because he is late (again), (b) a dinner party, (c) his mother in the senior residence, (d) his tennis partner who gardens, or (e) his niece the new chef. He doesn’t know anything about plants, and h…

Gardening

The next two weekends are good times to buy a cut Christmas tree, preferably fresh from local farms. The Western New York Christmas Tree Farmers Association lists 17 member growers in Erie County and seven in Niagara County and surely there are others who aren’t yet members. You might consider hurrying out to a farm this year a little sooner than in the past. While a snowf…

Gusto

For at least one day colorful gourds have a prominent place at the table. They are associated with harvest. Maybe they spill from cornucopias at the Thanksgiving table or harvest dinner, or they hang on autumn wreaths on the door. These plants have history and many uses, well beyond the decorative crafts you’ll find on Pinterest. They’re all worth growing for next season, …

Gardening

This week kindly offered one more day of sunshine. I needed the sun to motivate myself to go out there – I confess to getting the blues from gray November days. So outside I went to plant the last bulbs and get on with winter mulching. Last bulb planting I will never tell anyone to do as I do. I told you (and myself) to plant the bulbs in September or early October b…

Gardening

During a rare patch of mild weather this week, I spent a few hours in my barn. This barn, built about 1827, was the centerpiece of this farm – one of the first in this area south of East Aurora. Long before my arrival in the 1980s, it was probably a cow barn and later housed horses, including some that were part of my family for many years. For about 15 years we loaded …

Gardening

Thousands of people visit other people’s gardens every year (more in our region than in most places) and drive or walk away saying “Wow!” Or maybe they just say “Hmmm ... not so sure about that one.” Sometimes they take pictures and write down plant names and ideas about furnishings and art. Quite often it just stops there. Why is there so often a gap between viewing…

Gardening

Monday felt like the last good day to work outside in comfort. The bright sunshine and warm breezes did not hint at late October but I knew there wouldn’t be many more days like this in 2017 – maybe none. Never mind writing deadlines, piled-up emails, looming laundry, and errands in town. I claimed the time for me and the garden. What to do first? My deck and garden sti…

Gusto

The autumn leaves call for choices. Raking them can be a chore for tired homeowners who would rather do something else on the weekend. Raking leaves can be fun with children: As proof I have pictures of little Alice with cousin Elizabeth jumping in the piles. Raked leaves can be collected at the curb, at a cost to your city or village. (Only some towns compost them). Raked…

Gusto

If there were ever an autumn that begs us to plant bulbs, this is it. We’ve had lots of time. I’m imagining the garden center shelves are emptied. You all have new beds that will bursting with daffodils and crocuses next spring – right? But maybe not: I also know that new homeowners and gardeners start from scratch every year without much gardening knowledge, time, or m…