Upstate NY

by Kathy Purdy · 16 comments

I am one of those happy to be called an upstater and I love living in the rolling hills of the Southern Tier. The links in this section will be of use primarily to fellow upstaters and to those traveling in the area. If anyone else is helped by them that’s great, but I’d be the first to concede this section has a narrow focus. I define upstate New York as all the counties north of the New York-Pennsylvania border (roughly 42 degrees latitude). Since there is no official designation, no one can argue with me about this, but if you are interested in a more thorough treatment of the subject, check out the wikipedia article on the subject.

Watering, though apparently easy, is difficult to do properly. Ensuring the roots are neither drying nor drowning is an underappreciated art.
Jeff Gillman, The Truth About Garden Remedies

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim September 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I don’t call it upstate, I call it western NY. I live in Rochester, north of the city on the edge of Lake Ontario. I have a small corner lot with really big trees. I have grass under dappled shade out front, and dirt under dry shade in back. Very sandy soil. I want to get rid of most of my lawn and plant a whole lot of …ummm, something…out front as a sound break and privacy screen. I do NOT want a berm topped with a row of arborvitaes as a local landscaper suggested! I want natives, with some berries for the birds. But I have absolutely no idea how to begin!! Any suggestions? Books, websites, knowledgeable folks in the area? I like the idea of discussing the process with other people doing the same thing, but haven’t found much online so far. Would love some suggestions!


Joe Helms April 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’ve lived an hour north of Albany my whole life, near the VT border. I’ve kinda always thought of ‘upstate’ as Albany and north, and anything west of Utica as ‘western NY’ but not a part of upstate.

NY is go darn big , and almost all of it is above the city! Makes it hard to define.

I have noticed, though, that those who are proud of the title ‘upstate’ very often get more smug about it the farther north they are, hah!


Kirby's_Mom May 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

I was born on Long Island where “upstate” mean Bear mountain & the Catskills. We moved to Lake Placid when I was 8. THAT is Upstate and yes I agree, Western NY is NOT Upstate. When you are closer to Montreal than you are to Albany, you are Upstate! And yes, I am smug about it! But I am aware there are towns that are even more “Upstate” Than where I grew up.

The thing that really burns my biscuits? The misuse of “Adirondack” . 6 Million acres inside the Blue line and people who are an hour away from the southern most reaches of it feel free to call their business “Adirondack”? REALLY? You are in the middle of Cohoes, Schenectady, Hudson etc and you call yourself “Adirondack”. That bugs me.


Chuck D'Imperio April 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Very intersting blog! I have been an ardent fan of Upstate for years, and even have written several books about it. Always frustrating when you have to describe its boundaries. Purists howl, but I always consider anything up and out of New York City and Long Island to be Upstate. I mean lets face it..the city is another world unto itself! Check out my Upstate blog.


Sandra Ruddy June 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm

We always laugh at people who call anything south of the Adirondacks “Upstate New York.” I live well north of the Adirondacks in the St. Lawrence Valley. The Village that I grew up in (Waddington) is actual on the river, so you can actually see Canada. Growing up, it was not uncommon to have temperatures dip into the 30 to 40 below zero range a few times each winter. On the USDA map, we are a Zone 3b.
It was great to find your site.


Pam S August 25, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I live in Connecticut now, but grew up in what I used to think of as midstate NY (Schenectady) – the Adirondacks are “upstate” to me. I learned later that a large portion of New Yorkers consider anything north of “the city” as upstate.
Winters in CT are so mild compared to NY! We do have an occasional 2-foot snowfall, but far more often 1-3 inches, or freezing rain. I think my location, in a little protected valley, is Zone 6 or 6b, because it really doesn’t get all that cold here. I like the variety of weather; every day is a surprise.


Fred August 28, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Hi Pam,What do you plan on growing? South of Hartford they do grow tobacco and the soil is very red. Need some tios just em me. Fred


Sue September 1, 2008 at 10:18 am

I live in “upper Upstate New York”, often the coldspot of the nation, in the Adirondack Mountains. Am next door to, literally, a sand pit. Does anyone know of a winter-hardy/sand tolerant rose bush that spreads and/or any other flowering ground cover?


Melinda Mayer May 1, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I live in a high altitude where it is windy and alway very cold in upstate ny..I like a ground cover called dead doesn’t have a pretty name however it has very pretty pink flowers and pretty foliage..I actually bought one from the grocery store..


Kathy Purdy May 1, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I am familiar with that plant. For some people it can become too enthusiastic and vigorous and smothers their other plants, so keep your eye on it.


Fred Read February 16, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Dan,Whatever new plants you put in toward fall you might want to spray them with a dissolved mix of blood meal as this tends to repel deer. I’ve used it in my garden during the growing season. The tomato blight can be a bummer,not enough drainage and over watering can cause this along with splashing on the lower leaves of the plant. I always use a 4″ rock base at the bottom of the hole before filling with a sand,peat,soil mix. Indoor Aloe Vera also likes this mix. Hope that I was a help to you. Have a good day, Fed


DAN ODEA February 16, 2008 at 11:36 am



Fred Read September 9, 2007 at 1:03 am

Upstate N.Y.,sounds like western Mass. Making a trip to Howe Caverns soon. For the past 20 years I’v ebeen gardenng in the “Icebox of the USA”,norhtern MN,50 miles fro m Int’l Falls. Quite the experience. I also have a umbrella tree (6′) inmy living room here in Duluth,plus 2 palm trees. In my kitchen I have a sun tracker,2 ivies and a philodendron,all doing very well. I came across this site while looking up Plumeria(Frangipani) as I’m thinking of growing some. I make cosmetics ( as gifts) using Frangapani oil. Well,I’ll have to get on a forum and see if anyone has any seeds or cuttings for sale or trade, Have a nice gardening day, Fred


Kathy Purdy July 12, 2007 at 9:28 am

Hi, Scott–
This page you posted a comment to doesn’t get viewed too often. It’s not part of the blog. It just introduces a section of my website.

The type of proposal you are making should probably be done at a discussion forum such as Garden Web. There are a lot of regional forums there and you will probably find someone who lives pretty local to you.


scott July 12, 2007 at 9:02 am

Hi all new to this blog thing and not really sure how it works. I am curious if anyone would want to swap garden time in kingston ny. I need to do some work but either have not enought ime or energy to do on my own. SO one day in my yard one day in yours.


Martha May 4, 2007 at 4:10 pm

I’ve always known I live in upstate NY and have often wondered just exactly what that was supposed to mean, just never bothered to find out.

PS. I love the rolling hills of the southern tier too, but live near Lake Ontario.


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