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Sally Cunningham


Gusto

At last it’s time to spread the winter mulch, if you have some to spread. In an ideal end-of-season sequence, gardeners often gather mulch materials, stash the bags nearby, wait until the soil freezes, and then spread it over the dormant perennials or the woody plants’ root zones. Unfortunately, neither professionals nor homeowners usually have the luxury of such timing…

Gusto

The Dutch call it “bulb lasagne” – a catchy name for combining and layering bulbs to create stunning displays with long-lasting color. The largest example of layered and massed flower bulb designs is in the Netherlands at Keukenhof, called the largest flower garden in the world. A tour there is breathtaking, showcasing the Netherlands’ centuries-old mastery of bulb cult…

Gardening

We finally get the memo: Our protracted summer is passing and we have jobs to do. It’s time to bring some plants inside and store others. It’s time to cut back some perennials and improve the vegetable and flower gardens. You can still improve your lawn. And there is lots of time to prepare the landscape for winter. First things first 1. Tender plants: Take inside now …

Gusto

The end is near! The sky is falling! It’s over! This is a typical reaction around Western New York in August. Why do we think this? Is it the Erie County Fair with its agricultural messaging about haying and harvest time? Is it the first cool night when we close the windows? Is it the sight of the corn and red tomatoes at the farm stands? Or maybe it’s just the back-to-…

Gusto

I did not see all 430-plus Garden Walk Buffalo gardens last weekend – nobody could – nor every garden on the Open Gardens weekday tours or the weekend tours across the Buffalo Niagara region this summer. But, like about 100,000 garden tourists, I saw lots of gardens and heard questions from locals and out-of-town visitors. “What did the people ask you?” I asked the gard…

Gardening

It’s the worry of many a third-grader turning in a project, as well as gardeners who have visitors on the way. Or bus tours. Or photographers. And the answer is: Neatness counts – sometimes, sort of, and depending. What’s your garden style? I know people who can’t stand to see plants touching each other. That sounds extreme, and possibly I’m rolling my eyes a little.…

Gusto

Pollinators – bees, butterflies, wasps, some flies and other insects – need us to grow certain plants. Growing them should be no burden for gardeners. Most are pretty and serve us many ways. Deciding which ones to choose, and finding them, isn’t always easy. Let’s try. Why bother? The reason to make an effort is bigger than our personal pleasure in watching the dance of…

Gusto

June is for perennials. It’s a promotional slogan for the plant industry, but it also makes sense: Now you can see your own perennials have emerged and you still have time to divide, thin and move them around. Now you can find most perennials out on the tables in garden centers, and many are flowering. And now our gardens have dried out – mostly – and we can finish prep…

Gusto

The White Rabbit ran frantically around Wonderland saying, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” Gardeners are acting just like that. The weather was cold, our yards were wet, and we couldn’t do much in the garden in the first three weeks of May. Many yards still have saturated soil, so our lawn and gardening projects are pushed back even later. How can we ca…

Gusto

Picture a gardening day: A warm sun is shining on your bare arms. Your sharpened shovel lifts soft soil as you plant the first tomatoes into a weed-free bed. Flowering flats of marigolds and begonias sit nearby, awaiting your tasteful placement. The birds are chirping ... It’s May, at last! Here is the darker picture: The month of May isn’t all merry. There are hard …

Gusto

People want to see flowers now – as many and as soon as possible. So we go to garden centers and look, perhaps to buy. This region’s garden centers are exhilarating after winter – tropical houseplants, early flowering annuals and perennials, spring-flowering shrubs. But what are you seeing and when can you put them outside? What is ‘cold-hardy’? In professional ga…

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Do you remember when recycling entered our collective conscience? Did you first think about The Three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – in the 1960s or 1970s? In popular culture the 3-R mentality has certainly had highs and lows along the way, but now commitment to environmentally responsible consumerism is reaching a new high. That’s thanks in part to a caring younger g…

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The recent Philadelphia Flower Show reminded gardeners of what we know deep in our hearts: Flowers make us happy! The 190-year-old award-winning show, produced by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, is the country’s largest and oldest flower show. It’s always fabulous. This year’s theme was “Flower Power,” and the happiness factor was contagious: We danced. We bo…

Local News

The wind hit hard as February waned, damaging structures, vehicles and, most of all, trees. Late winter is the right time for most pruning anyway – a surprise to many – but now the task at hand is “corrective pruning.” What can you do, and how should you do it, to salvage or improve your beloved shrubs and trees? Storm-damaged trees Decision No. 1: What is worth t…

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The extreme weather that slammed us early this month caused suffering and endangered many people and animals. It was dramatic and easy to remember. In the plant world, damage usually shows up more slowly, but that kind of weather is equally destructive. High winds, record freezing temperatures, and drastic temperature changes wreak havoc on plants. You may not notice it…