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Sally Cunningham


This month I've heard too many people say,"Ugh, I've just given up on my garden this year; I'll start over next year." And I say that would be missing something great. Don't give up on the season! We have a fine August/September corridor of opportunity, when we can plan, plant and prepare for next year.Here are some tips to restart your gardening energy:Planting time: In o…

If I could influence our society, I would start with the way so many people today relate to nature -- starting with the smallest creatures.Our culture is generally "entomophobic" -- fearful of insects, or at least knee-jerk hostile to them. Upon seeing a bug, beetle or fly, people commonly respond "Eek! Ich!" or "Kill it!" Even when I tell how the world would quickly starv…

A potpourri of topics during this unusual summer: It's Fair timeCornell Cooperative Extension is deeply involved with the Erie County Fair, which is a reminder of our agricultural roots and the food production upon which we still depend. CCE is present in the 4H youth development projects, many Family and Consumer Science outlets and a lot of the Agriculture information. H…

I must write about some bad plants again, although it is so much more fun to focus on great perennials, spectacular container plants, etc. However, some plants in the wrong places cause big problems, and inertia has weighty consequences.So, one more time . . . Stop purple loosestrifePlease tell your neighbors, too, if they are nurturing these plants. Pass on this column or…

It's a tough year for tomatoes -- or any plants that are heat-loving or particularly vulnerable to fungus diseases. At Cornell Cooperative Extension, where Master Gardener volunteers answer gardening questions, recent calls and samples indicate many such tomato troubles.Many people want a pat solution to failing, drooping, wilting, yellowing tomatoes, but there is no quick…

Invasive or aggressive? Most people have heard about "invasive plants," but the term is used loosely and often defames some fine perennials or ground covers. Let's clarify the terms."Aggressive plants" describes plants that spread vigorously -- which may be great, or way too much. Believe it when you read it, but don't be afraid to use such a plant. A few aggressive but mu…

Before you start off next weekend on the Garden Walk on Buffalo's West Side -- or any of the others coming up -- think about what you want out of it. Your garden's destiny may depend on it. Of course, the experience doesn't require goals; you can just walk along oohing and ahhing at beautiful flowers. That can be inspirational, as in "I'm going for it next year!" Or it can…

The phrase "People Pressure Disease" -- P.P.D. -- was coined by gardeners in New York City when public events at Rockefeller Center routinely destroyed public gardens. It was expected, and there was a budget to replace plants constantly.When it happens in Niagara Square, which is cared for by volunteers, it's another matter. Consider with me the factors -- behavioral, publ…

It's been an American tradition since Victorian times to use blocks of annuals in public gardens, and Buffalo in Bloom and other volunteers and professionals mostly did that too -- until a few years ago. There is a trend -- for which Sharon Webber and other "Bloomers" should take some of the credit locally -- to plant tough, long-blooming perennials and ornamental grasses …

It's all part of gardening fun -- or interesting findings, anyway -- in the early summer, especially when we have had a wet spring: We see slimy yellow stuff creeping across the mulch, discolored leaf spots, leaves falling way too early, white powder on the rose and lilac leaves and mushrooms galore. All of these and more are typical of wet-weather yard and garden ills.The…

We humans make many mistakes as we interface with nature -- the plants, animals and ecosystems around us. Most gardening questions, in fact, go back to basics -- how the plants, insects, diseases work. Once we know the principles, we can figure out many answers ourselves, or we know how to proceed to solve our own problem.In plants alone, remember that over 90 percent of p…

Spring rains are good, but now we have had too much of a good thing -- for many plants. Let's use this opportunity to observe our own terrain and get realistic about the plants in the yard and garden.Make notes. For instance, two days after the rain stopped, which areas of the yard still have puddles and completely saturated soil? (Pick up a handful of soil; if it makes a …

I have some bad news for new gardeners and romantic idealists. There is no such thing as "just a little mint" -- or comfrey, Jerusalem artichoke, loosestrife of any kind, wild strawberries, bishop's weed (aka gout weed) -- or a great many other plants in the garden.Some arrive as surprise volunteers or as gifts, or we may acquire them at a plant exchange or even -- alas --…

May in Western New York is exciting for gardeners -- time to prepare beds, plant and shop.We have been planting between rainstorms, and smart gardeners have waited until the soil is workable -- dry enough to crumble in your hand. If you do work in wet clay soils, you compact it, which takes a long time to repair. So don't rush!It's nearly time to plant tender annuals and w…