March-April 2017

Garden Hose Guards

by cathym on March 28, 2017

by Cathy Monrad

2 foot piece of ½ inch rebar
1 foot length of ½ inch copper pipe
½ inch copper pipe cap
1 cabinet door knob; type with bolt attached

Scrap wood
Drill and bits
Hammer or mallet

1. Place pipe cap upside down on scrap wood and hold in place with pliers. Use small drill bit to create a pilot hole. Increase bit size and redrill hole until knob bolt fits.

1. Place pipe cap upside down on scrap wood and hold in place with pliers. Use small drill bit to create a pilot hole. Increase bit size and redrill hole until knob bolt fits.

2. Insert knob bolt through cap hole and add nut. Use needle-nose pliers to grasp nut inside cap while turning knob to tighten.

2. Insert knob bolt through cap hole and add nut. Use needle-nose pliers to grasp nut inside cap while turning knob to tighten.

3. Place cap on pipe.

3. Place cap on pipe.


4. Pound rebar in the ground with hammer leaving 8 inches visible.


5. Slide finished hose guard over rebar.

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and the self-proclaimed garden crafter for the Upstate Gardners’ Journal.


New York Owls

by cathym on March 25, 2017

by Liz Magnanti

Great horned owl. Photo courtesy Flickr: Nigel

Great horned owl. Photo courtesy Flickr: Nigel

Last winter offered some great opportunities to see many of the owl species we have here in Upstate New York. Owls are birds of prey that are primarily nocturnal. They are characterized by their large, forward facing eyes, circular flat faces, and sharp beaks and talons. Owls’ eyes are so large that they cannot move them in their sockets. In order to see in all directions, owls have specially adapted vertebrae that allow them to rotate their head 270 degrees.

Although owls will swallow their prey whole, they cannot digest the whole animal. The bones and fur of their prey are regurgitated as “pellets” that can often be found under the tree the owl is using as a roost. Owls are mostly nocturnal, solitary hunters. Their feathers are specialized to minimize the noise they make while flying. If you look at the tips of an owl feather, you will see that they are fringed, which cuts down noise when flying. Owls do not build nests, but instead take over nests and nesting cavities of other birds. During the day you are most likely to see an owl perched in a tree overseeing its hunting grounds.

There are eight different owl species that are commonly found in New York State. Some of these species are migratory and are only around seasonally, while others can be found here year round.

The smallest of the owls found in New York is the saw-whet owl. At seven inches in length, they are about the size of a soda can. Although small, these owls are fierce and dine on mice and other small rodents. Saw-whet owls are migratory, and can be found here in the early spring. They are known to roost in conifer trees and will nest in tree and man-made cavities. When searching for owls, look for their signature droppings, or “whitewash” on the trunk of trees. Usually this is easier to spot and the owl won’t be far away.

The eastern screech owl is the most common owl in our area. They can be either gray or brown, but in our area they are most commonly gray. Brown morphs are more common out west where they blend in better with the reddish-colored trees. Screech owls are eight to ten inches in length and will roost during the day in hollow trees or screech owl boxes. You may have head a screech owl and not even known it. Their call sounds like a horse’s whinny, not the traditional “hooo.”

The barred owl has populations that are expanding nationwide. They are large, with a length up to 24 inches and deep brown eyes. Their brownish-gray coloration gives them great camouflage in old growth forests, where they are most common. Their signature “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” call can be heard through forests at night, and sometimes during daylight hours.

Short-eared owls are migratory owls you may find here in the winter. They are most commonly seen in February at dusk flying low over farm fields where they hunt for small mammals. The short-eared owl is one of the most widespread owls you will find and can be found all over the world. Here in New York, however, this bird is endangered due to habitat loss.

Snowy owls have been widespread in our area this winter. Food scarcities bring them south where they hunt for small mammals and birds. These “interruptions,” when animals appear in large numbers outside their normal range, happen sporadically some winters. The best places to look for snowy owls are around the lakeshore, where they stop to rest after crossing Lake Ontario, and airports.

Long-eared owls are very secretive and hard to find. They roost high up in evergreen trees and blend in very well with the trunks. These migratory birds are mostly here seasonally, when they pass through in March and April. They rarely nest here but when they do they tend to take over crow nests.

The barn owl is a species rarely found upstate. They will inhabit and nest in barns, as their name implies, but are a more southern species. They tend to prefer an agricultural setting or field, which makes them prone to nesting in barns. Barn owls have pale feathers, long wings, and dark eyes. They are widespread throughout the world but, just as short-eared owls, they are declining due to habitat loss.

Great horned owls are perhaps the most distinct-looking owl we have. With a length of 25 inches and a wingspan of 55 inches, it’s no wonder how this owl got its name. Their ear tufts, or “horns,” are actually feathers and not ears at all. The call of the great horned owl is five distinct hoots that sound like “You awake? Me too.” This large owl is known to attack prey larger than itself and is one of the only natural predators of the bald eagle.

At any time of year you may be lucky enough to have an encounter with one of these amazing birds. The great horned owl nests early in the year and will already have nestlings at this time. Other species do not nest until April or May. As the weather gets warmer, listen for their calls late into the night as they search for mates.


Liz Magnanti is manager of The Bird House in Brighton.



 March 23–March 26, the Fairgrounds Event Center in Hamburg

All seminars to take place in the large seminar room unless otherwise noted.
Large seminar room is located to the left of the concession stand.
Small seminar room is located to the right of the concession stand.

11 am: Don’t Just Gawk—Learn on Garden Walks – Connie Oswald Stofko, Publisher of

Noon: Pruning 101 – Steve Sypniewski, CNLP, ISA Certified Arborist; Buffalo State College

1 pm: How to Care for Your Lawn – Walt Nelson, Cooperative Extension Monroe County

1 pm: (small seminar room) How to Safely Use a Chain Saw – Nate Buckley, For the Love of Trees Company

2 pm: Container Gardening – Lyn Chimera, Lessons from Nature

2 pm: (small seminar room) Demonstration: How to Make a Terrarium – Kristy Schmitt, Erie County Botanical Gardens

3 pm: Ornamental Grass – Sharon Webber, CNLP; Horticulture Instructor, Niagara County Community College; Earthlines

4 pm: Helping the Honeybees – Erin Masterson, Masterson’s Garden Center, Inc. & Aquatic Nursery

5 pm: Drought: The Killer of Trees – Brian Sayers, Tree Doctor

6 pm: Making Your Landscape Come Alive with a Splash of Color – Dan Robillard – Horticulture Instructor, McKinley High School


FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017
11 am: Shade Gardening with Tips, Tricks and Suggestions of What to Use – Tim Zimmerman, CNLP, Robert Baker Company

Noon: Garden for the Caterpillars – Dave O’Donnell, Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm

1 pm: Perennials for WNY Gardens, Best Choices & Best Care – Sally Cunningham, CNLP, Author; Lockwood’s Greenhouses

2 pm: Design Your Own Landscape – Richard Tedeschi, Jacrist Gardening Services, Inc.

3 pm: Ken Brown Hour—Horticulture Questions Answered

4 pm: Picture Tour of the “Drave’s Arboretum” – Tom Draves, Draves Tree & Landscape

5 pm: How to Identify Emerald Ash Borer and What You Should Do – Tandy Lewis, U.S. Department of Agriculture – APHIS Division

6 pm: Victorian Language of Flowers – Kristy Schmitt, Erie County Botanical Gardens


11 am: Succulents: Small and Mighty – Jackie Albarella, Albarella Media, Channel 2

Noon: Gardening Through the Ages – Dawn Hummel, BeeDazzled Media

Noon: (small seminar room) A Moment in Time Floral Designs – Dorothy Julius, Along Gardens Path

1 pm: The Useful and the Beautiful in the Landscape – Nellie Gardener, Flower Fields; Darwin Martin House

2 pm: The Ancient Art of Moss Ball Gardening – David Clark, Instructor, Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens

3 pm: Your Yard (and the Birds and the Bees) Needs Native Plants: How to Choose and Use Them – Sally Cunningham, CNLP, Author; Lockwood’s Greenhouse

4 pm: Edible Wild Plants – Ken Parker, CNLP

5 pm: Manipulate Your Landscape to Attract Wildlife – Russ Lis, Aquatic Ecology Instructor, McKinley High School

6 pm: How to Design a Japanese Garden – Matt Smith, CNLP


SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2017
10 am: Which Hostas Where – Hostas in the Landscape – Mike Shadrack, Smug Creek Gardens

11 am: Feng Shui Your Garden – Applying Ancient Formulas & Symbols to Modern Gardens – David Clark, Instructor, Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens

Noon: Making More Plants (Propagation for the Home Gardener) – Carol Harlos, Master Gardener

Noon: (small seminar room) Demonstration—Insects, Diseases & Weeds, Oh My! Household Products Used for Home Remedies – Michael Klepp, CNLP, The Plant Man

1 pm: What’s that Bug? In Your Garden and in Your House – Tom Mitchell, Horticulture Instructor, Niagara County Community College; Mitchell Landscaping

2 pm: Container Gardening—Beyond Thriller, Filler, & Spiller – Carolyn Stanko, CNLP, Horticulture Instructor, Niagara County Community College

3 pm: New Shrubs and Perennials for 2017 – Tim Zimmerman, CNLP, Robert Baker Company

All seminars to take place in the large seminar room unless otherwise noted.
Large seminar room is located to the left of the concession stand.
Small seminar room is located to the right of the concession stand.