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Sally Cunningham


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No matter how long we try to prolong the season, let’s face it: Mostly gardening time is over… except for cleaning up, putting away, and preparing for next year. This is the Top 10 To-Do list for wrapping up the season. 1. Clean up Remove and discard any flower, fruit, or vegetable plants that were diseased or insect-infected. Also discard weeds that have gone to se…

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One of the best thrills for a gardener is seeing the green shoots of bulbs pop up in spring. It always feels miraculous (actually they are) and yet it’s such an easy miracle to make happen. You just have to plant them now. Hint: Do you know any new homeowners or beginning gardeners? Give them a bag of bulbs, with instructions. Not only will they be appreciating you n…

Gardening

The showy flowers and berries of September remind me of ladies at a cotillion in Scarlett O’Hara’s time – the full skirts and puffed sleeve dresses, all ruffles and flounces, adorned with huge hats and jewels. Our gardens are the ballrooms, and nothing is subtle about this end-of-summer dance. Even the plants know it’s their last chance for full-out performances. These …

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It is exciting for seasoned gardeners to help new ones. As baby boomers move over for millennials and those that follow, many of us are happy to share tools, plants, and most of all knowledge. It is also gratifying that you younger folks have strength and energy to haul, dig, and build when it starts to look daunting for us. (Mind you, that’s just some of us, some of the t…

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Outsiders, who have the usual image of wintry Buffalo, often ask, “Isn’t it a very short growing season?” They just don’t know about our comfortable, temperate climate and the extended gardening season we have in early fall. The trouble is: Many people here also act as if gardening is over when it’s time for the Erie County Fair. Let’s not be those people. Let’s not giv…

Gardening

Thousands of people have been looking at other people’s gardens this month. During at least 15 Buffalo Niagara region garden walks, the Open Gardens event, and now all around the big one – Garden Walk Buffalo July 28-29 – we hear the question: “What is that?” Some of the plants are commonly known to gardeners – hostas, daylilies and coneflowers for instance. But not all…

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We recently experienced extremely hot and humid weather, and summer had only just begun. We can expect more days like that – often called “dog days” – so let’s get ready for them. The hottest weather is rough on people and dogs, but it also kills or damages plants. Our flower baskets, vegetable beds, or home landscapes are investments, and precious to us. And we can tak…

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Buffalo is one exuberant gardening city, widely known for Garden Walk Buffalo, America’s largest garden tour, and increasingly for all the other community garden walks and open gardens. But even gardeners who decorate their porches and yards just for themselves and summer gatherings have advantages in Western New York. Our garden centers and nurseries offer fabulous flo…

Gardening

Something is missing in many garden lessons. The instructor or writer addresses “right plant, right place” and goes on about site analysis: Know your sun or shade, soil, wind, and drainage etc. and choose plants that suit that location. What’s missing: how the plant behaves over time, as it grows. Does the plant stay compact? Does it get tall and floppy? Does it form a …

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Spring came late to Western New York and then, whoosh, everything leaped from the soil. Bulbs were glorious, but all too briefly. Sudden warm spells made some of them open too far and finish too soon. Perennials have stretched so quickly that many gardeners didn’t have time to divide or thin the clusters. The grass turned green, sending homeowners to stores looking for …

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo proclaimed May 6 to 12 to be Compost Awareness Week. The proclamation (an edited version here) reads: “Whereas, the Empire State supports environmentally-friendly initiatives … such as composting … through more than 190 regulated facilities in New York State that process more than 700,000 tons of organic material; and “Whereas, organic materials mak…

Gardening

It’s April and usually that means lots of rain. “April showers bring May flowers,” indeed. In an ideal world plant roots absorb water with nutrients that travel through the plant’s vascular system and trigger production of shoots, leaves and buds. Plant roots absorb much of the rain, and the soil – replete with organic matter and microorganisms – holds the rest of the mois…

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Bulbs have been on my mind all week. Last Friday I was in Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, where about 5 million tulips and other bulbs provide breathtaking plantings over a 70-acre park. This year’s theme: The Romance of Flowers. Five indoor pavilions provide education on tulip history and science as well as exciting plant introductions. If you love flowers, this …

Gardening

I have been just two days in the Netherlands, but how suitable that the first excursion from the river boat took us to a tulip farm. This trip on Ama Waterways will take my band of 15 travelers to visit historic villages and the city of Gouda, to learn about building a country half below sea level, and to see windmills and a spring flower show called Floralia. The trip’…

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As I patrolled my yard this week I had the feeling that St. Patrick’s Day must be soon. Yet the calendar says it’s April. In the yard and garden everything is happening slowly, which is not a bad thing. Gradual seasonal changes are ideal. We often lose some flowers and fruit when a premature warm spell causes plants to plump up their buds and then ‑ boom ‑ a deep freeze…