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The Joy of Gardening

Whether prairie plant or pansy, native or ornamental, gain insight into all aspects of gardening & wildlife.
Gardening
Bumblebee

How Can I Support Pollinators?

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

What is the current buzz about pollinators? From the plight of the honeybee to the predicament of the Monarch butterfly, pollinators are increasingly in the news due to their drastic decline. The iconic honeybee and Monarch butterfly are however indicators of a far more widespread decline. There are over 4000 species of native bees and 700 species of butterflies in the...

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Top Ten Tips for Poinsettias

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

"It is hard to think of the Holidays and not conjure up images of red Poinsettias and a snowy landscape", said Kim Ellson, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Poinsettias truly have become a symbol of Christmas and it would be very difficult to think them away. "Although reds are certainly the most iconic" said Ellson, "variations of pinks, whites, burgundies and s...

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Why NOT to cut your perennials this fall..

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

Most gardeners will associate the cutting and removal of perennials and raking of leaves as typical autumn chores. Naturally we want to ensure we are left with a garden that looks tidy and presentable, and we can rest assured that come springtime we will not have to tackle these chores in addition to controlling spring weeds. However removing all this plant material can be fatal for next year's...

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Herbicide Damage on Tomato Plants

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

I was carrying out a site visit when I was asked to inspect some tomato plants growing in a high tunnel that were displaying symptoms of distorted growth. The damage looked much like that which could be caused by herbicide drift (probably vapor drift) from some kind of a plant growth regulator such as 2,4-D or Dicamba. These herbicides would first affect the new growth, causing leaf curling, tw...

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Natural Lawn Care

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

"By making the transition from traditional to alternative lawn care, we can move away from a system that relies heavily on the input of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides", said Kim Ellson, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "We all love a luscious green lawn", Ellson said. "Lawns have become an integral part of our landscaping and it is hard to think them away. Preser...

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Forcing Winter Branches

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

URBANA, Ill. – Forcing branches allows us to enjoy a burst of color and brighten up our homes in the middle of winter with materials from our own garden, said Kim Ellson, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "We all keenly await the arrival of spring in those cold and dark winter months, and although we cannot change the seasons, we can enjoy a taste of spring in ou...

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Tips to Keep Your Pumpkin Fresh!

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

Select a healthy pumpkin. Carry out a touch test to ensure the pumpkin is still firm. If possible purchase your pumpkin local to ensure freshness. Look for visible signs of aging, damage or disease. Use clean sharp tools and wash your hands prior to cutting the pumpkin to avoid transmitting bacteria. Remove as much pulp from the inside of th...

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Monarch on Aster

Fall Color with Natives

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

We gardeners all long for one last burst of color to enjoy before winter arrives. Kim Ellson, a horticulture educator with University of Illinois Extension, suggests looking to native plants not only for color but for vital wildlife services. "For fall we tend to reach for those cultivated favorites we have come to know and love: mums, pansies, asters, ornamental kales, cabbages, pepper...

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Grafting Tomatoes & Other Veggies..

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

URBANA, Ill. - Grafting provides a natural method of achieving disease resistance and plant vigor for our favorite vegetable cultivars, said Kim Ellson, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "We all have our favorite vegetable varieties", Ellson said. "Some love Big Boy tomatoes whilst others will insist upon Better Boy. These are specific cultivars that we are famil...

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Time to Start Those Vegetable Seeds!

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

March can be one of those months that is neither here nor there, not quite winter and not yet spring either. Although the promise of spring is on the horizon and we are at times even treated to one of those beautiful sunny days, don't be fooled, winter most certainly still has us in its grip. Any given day can bring a snowstorm. And despite this it is hard not to get infected with that spring f...

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Snowdrops

Snowdrops– The Promise of Spring!

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

All four seasons are enchantingly beautiful, each displaying its uniquely distinct character, to which winter is no exception. Yet as winter draws to an end, or for others perhaps even sooner, many are longing to feast their eyes on the luscious green of spring and to bathe their skin in that warm spring air. This is where snowdrops come into play, for they are one of the very first messengers...

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Shoveling Snow

Use Less Salt This Winter

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

In the present day world we have created, it is virtually impossible to think away the use of salt over the winter months in cold climate areas. Salt is what keeps our roads clear, our transportation system functioning and most importantly our economy going. In this day and age it is an essential requirement to be at work consistently and on time. There is no such thing as conforming to nature;...

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Flocked Christmas Trees, an American Tradition.

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

Flocked Christmas trees, a vague reminder of the past or a current day trend? Numbers seem to reflect an increase in popularity as more and more people seek out these once popular trees. For many of us flocked trees bring back memories of our childhood, warm and fuzzy memories, happy memories. Maybe our parents had one, or our grandparents, and we grew used to seeing th...

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Poinsettias

Keeping Poinsettias Beautiful!

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

I recently gave a friend a beautiful Poinsettia plant and her first response was 'Well, I will probably have this for all of 3 days!'. When I asked her what she meant she replied that she always managed to kill Poinsettia plants in record time. Now granted, 3 days might be a little extreme, but the jest is that Poinsettias do not last. In fact for many just keeping your plant looking good until...

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Mum's the Word

Posted by Kim Ellson - Gardening

Whether they are grown as cut flowers, potted houseplants or as an outdoor fall crop, it would be hard to imagine the horticultural and floral industry without them. Chrysanthemums are in fact a grower's delight, both private and commercial, due to their vast advantageous characteristics; versatility, diversity, multitude and longevity of floral blooms; rapid growth rate and relatively...

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