Lyn Chimera is a Master Gardener, consultant and lecturer.
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By Lyn Chimera
One of the things I do as a Master Gardener is man the Hotline to answer people’s gardening questions. In the past month we have had many calls about Maple leaves with black spots, maple leaves dropping early and people spotting the Killer Hornet. Here is some information on both issues.
Tar spot on Maples.
Info adapted from the Cornell fact sheet.
WNY is experiencing an increase in tar spot this season. There are actually several different fungi in the genus Rhytisma that infect the leaves of maples and cause raised, black spots to form on upper leaf surfaces. (see photo) The diseases are called "tar spots" because their appearance so closely resemble droplets of tar on leaf surfaces. Tar spot alone is rarely serious enough to threaten the health of trees, but sometimes there can be so many spots that the tree becomes unsightly. Heavy infections can also cause early leaf drop, a condition that causes homeowners to have to rake before autumn officially arrives. Norway maples are not native and brought the fungus with them when they came from Norway. It is a common street tree because it can withstand the stress of growing in less than optimum conditions. Norway maples are not the only trees affected by the fungi in the genus Rhytisma. Tar spot also infects silver, sugar, and red maple as well as their relative, box elder.
For more info on Tar Spot: http://plantclinic.cornell.edu/factsheets/tarspotofmaple.pdf
The best way to control is to rake up and remove all infected leaves. Spraying of fungicide is not
recommended since tar spot doesn’t severely harm trees and the fungal spores travel in the air. You would have to spray the whole neighborhood to make a difference. If you want to plant a tree it’s always best to choose a native that is suited to our area and your site.
Note: If maple leaves crinkle and turn brown in June or July, another common disease of maple may be present. Refer to the Cornell fact sheet on Anthracnose of Trees and Shrubs for more information.
The Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) is another question we’ve been hearing a lot about. The name you’ve heard on the news is Murder Hornet. Just the name makes one worry. The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest hornet at 2 inches long! (see photo). It was initially spotted in British Columbia and Washington state in 2019. The nests found were destroyed. This hornet is problematic because it attacks and destroys honeybee hives and is aggressive toward people. Because the Asian Giant Hornet looks similar to some large hornet and wasp species here, we are getting many calls of sightings of the “murder hornet”. None have been confirmed.
Two of the most common insects people see here that they think are the Asian giant hornet are The German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica) and the European Giant Hornet (Vespa crabro L.)
The yellowjacket is colored in black and yellow and the abdomen typically has a small spade-shaped black mark on the first abdominal segment and a series of black spots down both sides from the second to the fifth segments. The adult European hornet worker is approximately 1 inch in length with yellow and brown coloration.
Sharon Bachman, the Invasive Species person at the Cooperative Extension, explained the visual difference between the Asian giant hornet and others. The yellow and black bands on the AGH are solid stripes while the other large species have irregular stripes with “crown like” protrusions. Bottom line is the Asian giant hornet has not been identified outside the northwest so you don’t have to worry. The Hotline is a free service to those living in Erie County.
If you have a garden related question, need a soil pH test, insect, or disease identification you can call 716-652-2432 ext. 137, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-12. Due to Covid the offices are closed so your call will not be answered directly. Leave a message and a Master Gardener volunteer will get back to you during those hours. Some volunteers are working from home and others are at Cornell Cooperative Extension 21 S. Grove St. on the first floor.
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Now is the best time to plan for improvements &/or changes for next year. Give us a call!
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By: Lyn Chimera
Whether you live in the city, suburbs or in a rural area, lawns are a big part of the landscape. People have treated lawns as a status symbol for centuries. The movement began in Europe where having a manicured lawn was only available to the wealthy who could afford the workforce to keep it looking good.
Unfortunately having that perfectly manicured lawn is still a status symbol for many people. They want their lawn to look like a golf course. Anyone who has tried to have that perfect lawn realizes what a lot of work it is to keep it that way. Not only is it time consuming but costly as well. There’s the lawn mower which needs gas and yearly maintenance, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides which are not only tough on the pocketbook but very hard on the environment
Let’s look at a few facts. Lawns across America use about 9 BILLION gallons of water a DAY! That’s the main reason during the drought out west watering lawns has been banned. The EPA reports that 50% of that water is wasted through evaporation and run off. According to 1971 NASA report lawns take up 3 times as much space as the next irrigated crop, corn. On top of that around 90 million pounds of fertilizers and about 75 million pounds of pesticides are used per year.
Just why do we have all this lawn? What do we actually use it for? Some turf is productive like athletic fields, golf courses and recreational areas. We have to ask ourselves if this is the best use of our landscape space.
There has been much written about habitat loss and the reduction of much needed pollinators, birds and other forms of life. Lawn doesn’t support any of that. Nature needs our help and that’s why so many people are reducing their lawn and developing more sustainable landscaping. This movement has been dubbed “unlawning”. There are many ways to reduce your lawn and have that space contribute to nature.
One of the fastest growing ways to reduce lawn is to grow vegetables, fruit trees and berries. Many people have vegetable gardens in their back yards, but front yard gardens are gaining in popularity. Often the front or side yard is the only place that has enough sun to support growing food crops. Growing some of your own food not only enables your garden to be productive for nature but provides your family with fresh pesticide free fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables need pollinators so you’re supporting nature.
There are many ways to incorporate food crops; raised beds, in ground garden, containers or interspersed among your perennials. Meanwhile you won’t have so much lawn to take care of.
Another option for unlawning is to transform some of the lawn space to meadow or pollinator gardens. This doesn’t mean you have to have an unkept field in your front yard. A section of lawn could be parceled out to be a pollinator garden/meadow. These sections could be shaped and mowed around to make it look more purposeful. The same effect can happen with wide mowed paths through the area. Organizing like species of plants rather than a general mixture also makes the meadow look more organized and like a garden if that is the look you prefer. Using native plants that support nature are the most effective plants to replace some lawn. They are beautiful and are the easiest way homeowners can help support nature and be sustainable. For ideas on how this might look check out: https://unlawningamerica.societyrne.net/unlawning-strategies.html
I’m not trying to suggest everyone eliminate their lawns. Rather rethink areas that you don’t use that might be more sustainable for your families and nature. If you don’t want to reduce the amount of lawn, at least consider not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Lawns will do just fine without them. Also you don’t have to water the lawn. Grasses naturally go dormant when it’s dry. They will green up with the first rain.
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By: Lyn Chimera
Lessons from Nature
Would you like to have a healthier lawn and help the environment at the same time? The Safe Home for The Gnomes project is for you.
The Erie County Environmental Management Council (EMC) is an advisory board to the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning. Council members advise county government on local environmental concerns; and provide a liaison between the community and county government.
Reducing the overuse and misuse of chemicals in Erie County is a priority concern for the EMC. Launched in 2017, Safe Home for The Gnomes is a campaign to reduce the use of lawn chemicals. Homeowners pledge to maintain a pesticide-free lawn that is safe for children, pets and pollinators and receive a free lawn sign to let their neighbors know that their lawn is healthy and safe.
Garden chemicals when overused or misused can be harmful to humans, pets, wildlife and waterbodies. Collectively, residents control about 900,000 acres of lawn in New York alone - 75% of the managed turf in the state. The good news is there are many ways to care for your lawn that avoid putting family and neighbors at risk.
Ten EMC tips for a healthy pesticide free lawn:
Having a pesticide free lawn will save you time AND money as well as eliminate harmful effects on the environment. For more information about Safe Home for the Gnome and managing a pesticide free landscape please visit the Healthy Lawns page at: ERIE.GOV/HEALTHYLAWNS.
NOTE: Our Native Plant and Perennial Sale will be Saturday, May 22, 9-2. Between Amanda’s Garden and Lessons from Nature we will have the largest selection of native plants in WNY along with a good selection of perennials for sun to shade. A GREAT place to get healthy plants at a reasonable price.
Annual native and perennial plant sale
Saturday, May 22, 9-2
170 Pine Street, E Aurora
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Dear Gardening Friends,
We’ve had a year’s worth of weather during April. We had winter, then spring then summer and back to winter again. As I write this it’s a lovely, sunny fall temperature day. Hopefully spring is here for good now.
If nothing else April has taught us how resilient nature is. Most plants will be just fine. This type of weather is also a good reason to grow native plants. They are used to this changeable weather and will survive. You may notice frost damage on the tips of some plants, trees & shrubs. The leaves or tips of leaves turn black and crunchy. They can be pruned out or just left to drop off if it’s just a leaf or two. It looks like the only plant I have that was severely damaged was a rare hydrangea from Japan. Am hoping the roots will be fine and send up new shoots. Don’t give up on a frost damaged plant. Cut back the damage and hope for the best.
The following are a few tips.
- Patience is still the best approach. The soil is quite cold and it’s way too soon to even think about planting annuals. Many greenhouses have perennials and annuals out for sale. If you by an annual keep it in a sheltered place until it’s time to plant.
- If you leave a footprint on the soil that’s a sign the soil is too wet to work in. It’s easy to compact the soil with every footfall so stay off until things dry out.
- It’s helpful to have paths or steppingstones in gardens so you can navigate without harming the soil. If a path isn’t appropriate a few rocks or steppingstones placed appropriately are practical and attractive.
- If you left the leaves down in the fall lightly rake them away from the crowns of plants so the plants don’t get smothered. The leaves can be left on the ground and will make an excellent mulch as well as weed suppressant and habitat for beneficials.
- Weeding should be a priority. Perennial weeds are up now and will be much easier to remove when small. If removed now you also prevent the weed from developing seeds and spreading even more.
- The soil is still much too cold to plant greenhouse grown perennials, annuals and vegetables. Wait until the soil is above 50 degrees. As an example, tomatoes planted too soon don’t do as well as those planted at the end of May. Remember Patience! The final average frost isn’t until late May so don’t get fooled by a few warm days.
- Perennials currently coming up in your garden that need to be moved or divided can be moved since they are used to the current soil temperature. However, don’t move them until the soil is “workable” which means the soil will break apart easily after you make a ball of it in your hand. Clumpy soil won’t settle around the roots well and cause air pockets which can dry out the roots.
- If you have problems with deer, rabbits and other critters start your spraying, fencing, caging or whatever you do. I’ve already had damage and quickly put up some caging. Will spray on a non-rainy day. Since the plants are growing fast now I spray susceptible plants every week until they reach full size then cut back to every 3-4 weeks.
RECYCLE pots, treys & blinds here. I can use pots 4 inches and up and flat carrying treys. No 6 packs. Also, if you are discarding any Venetian blinds or see some in the garbage, please save them for me. I use the blinds for price tags for the plant sale and won’t have many left after this year. Just drop them off in front of the garage. The address is below.
NOTE: For those of you in Amherst who are used to dropping things off at 37 N. Union, The property has been sold so please don’t drop pots off there. THANKS!!!!
Now is the time to make changes and improvements in your garden. I can help improve your garden and gardening practices and guarante to save you time and money. Also check out my website for past Garden Tips and articles: lessonsfromnature.biz.
Upcoming Plant Sales & Events: Put them on your calendar now!
Lessons from Nature and Amanda’s Garden Native and Perennial Plant Sale.
Saturday, May 22th, 9:00 – 2:00. 170 Pine St., E Aurora, corner of Pine & Lawrence.
Clients and those of you who get my tips can come at 8:00 and beat the rush. We will have a larger variety of native plants on that one day than anywhere in WNY. All my plants are dug fresh from my garden and those from Amanda’s Garden are started from seed by Ellen. Fultz, the owner. I will also have a selection of hypertufa containers, draped concrete planters and birdbaths. A partial list of what plants is at the end of these tips. Since it’s been so cold and rainy, I’ve only started potting up and some plants haven’t even come up yet. So, in addition to the list there will be more surprises.
Note: all my plants will be potted in soilless potting mix due to the threat of the Asian jumping worm. If you’re not aware of this threat you can get information at: http://ulster.cce.cornell.edu/environment/invasive-pests/jumping-worm
Master Gardener Plant Sale, Friday May 228, 8:30 – 3:00, Saturday May 29, 8:30 – 2:00, First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle, across from Kleinman’s. Perennials for sun and shade, natives, annuals, succulents, hypertufa and draped concrete pots, vegetable starts, herbs, shrubs and garden art. Plants are from MG gardens and donated by local nurseries.
East Aurora Garden Club Perennial Sale, Saturday, May 29th 8:30 – till sold out.
In the Village plaza on Grey Street where Tops is. The sale is located under the roof overhang between TJ Max and Pet Smart. Plants from Garden Club member’s gardens, great selection.
Lessons from Nature
170 Pine St.
E. Aurora, NY 14052
Partial Plant List for Perennial Sale 2021
Some varieties there are only 1 or 2 of, others quite a few. A few items aren’t even up yet so additional plants will be added during the weeks to come. First come first served.
Purple leaf sandcherry Potentilla, Gold Drop
Lynwood Gold Forsythia Hydrangea – Anabelle
Monkshood Siberian iris (white & blue)
Perennial geranium Shasta daisy Sundrops Zig-zag goldenrod
Variety of asters Tansy
Phlox Obedient plant
Filipendula Graceful sedge
Forget-Me-Not Anemone – white, pink, & ruffled
Dwarf Solomon’s seal variegated Candelabra primrose
Ladies Mantle Kirengeshoma
Astilbe (dwarf) Corydalis –Yellow & white
Astilbe – Ostrich Blue lobelia
Astilbe – variety of colors Sundrops
Golden ragwort Bouncing Bet
Dwarf Comfrey Hosta – a few varieties, minis
Toad Lily – 2 varieties Pulmonaria – a few varieties
European Ginger Lenten Rose, white, pink & deep purple
Curley Ginger Native ginger
Epimedium – pink & yellow Primula kisoana – rare variety
Corydalis Astilboides tabularis
Candelabra primrose Soloman’s Seal - 3 varieties
Evening Primrose Tall Meadow Rue
Solomon’s Seal Twinleaf
Ginger Golden Ragwort
Gold Star Amsonia
Viola - purple Big leaf aster
Wood anemone Early Meadow Rue
Jack-in-the-pulpit Ostrich fern
White Wood Aster Wood Poppy
Snakeroot Creeping phlox
Filapendula White violet
Flowering raspberry Lobelia – blue
Northern Sea Oats White wood anemone
Waterleaf Zig-zag goldenrod
Carolina Phlox Field goldenrod
Asters – many varieties Monkshood
Waterleaf Graceful sedge
Shrub – viburnum alnifolium