Post-solstice meander


IMG_2171This post is the first of several looking back/moving forward surveys—a process I always enjoy at this time of year. Although it’s been unusually mild—so much so that I think I may finally get to clearing out some weedy areas behind the house—it’s therapeutic to look back on the colors and scenes of summer when the view outside is mainly brown, green, and gray.

This year, I reconfirmed that I like short, intense spurts of gardening once in a while, followed by days in which I mainly just sit outside reading or otherwise hanging out.

I continue to replace standard garden favorites like hostas (because of my shade, I have depended on these too much), common groundcovers, and, in some cases, roses with vigorous natives for shade and sun (top). I still will always have a lot of nonnatives and hybrids, but I’m always thinking of where natives might work.

IMG_2130Despite our plethora of free garden tours here in Western New York, I  prefer to explore parks and preserves, particularly the ones we’ve just created, like the lakefront Wilkeson Point, shown here.

IMG_1855I appreciate non-turfgrass choices for public landscaping and interesting streetside container plantings wherever I go—and I’m seeing more of these wherever I go.

IMG_1928I’m always going to love the crazy front garden of my friend Ellie Dorritie and I always visit it at least once a year.

IMG_1927More and more, I am noting wildlife I’d never thought I’d see in our densely built urban area. This rabbit is doing us a favor, eating some flagstone weeds I’d have gotten rid of (eventually) anyway.

IMG_2434Here’s a project that could convert me to seeds: Jenny Kendler’s ReWilding New York wildflower seed distribution project.

IMG_2829I learned a lot about poinsettias in the course of doing this segment for our local radio station and I leave you with this bit of advice—poinsettias die from sitting in water more quickly than a lot of other plants. Don’t leave them in the foil, or, if you do, cut holes in it and empty their saucers regularly.

Happy holidays!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. What are the tall yellow flowers in top picture? My grandmother had those growing in her backyard when I was a child. Now that I have my own home/garden, I’ve never been able to find them in the Buffalo-Niagara area.

  2. Those are rudbeckia lacianata hortensia ‘Golden Glow,’ so I guess they’re kind of a nativar. They are a heritage plant and were used in the nineteenth century to shield outhouses. I like them, though they don’t get a ton of respect.

    I ordered mine as seedlings from Select Seeds. They are available nowhere locally, but once you have them, they spread like crazy via runners.

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