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Tales from a Plant Addict

Fun (& a few serious) facts, tips and tricks for every gardener, new and old.

Bulb Forcing

Although fall has barely begun, it's time to start thinking spring, at least where bulbs are concerned. This is the time of year when garden centers are flooded with dozens of varieties of spring blooming bulbs. If you don't have a yard you can plant in, consider planting bulbs in pots for forcing. It's a great way to bring a bit of spring to your balcony, patio, or even your kitchen table....

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Rosemary

I have a love-hate relationship with rosemary. I love its scent, I love its flavor in cooking, but hate that I can't seem to successfully overwinter this shrub consistently, indoors or out. The typical young plants we use in our gardens each year are rather green and succulent, but mature rosemary is a woody shrub-like evergreen plant. Part of the lure of growing rosemary is its wonderf...

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Overwintering Tropical Plants

Tropical plants have grown in popularity for use in outdoor landscaping. Some have been a garden staple for years, like cannas, elephant ears, and dahlias. Others are less familiar, like banana, mandevilla, and bougainvillea. Most will not survive the cold temperatures of an Illinois winter without being moved indoors. Even though the weather is still very summer-like, if you have any i...

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Blue Tomatoes

For the ninth year in a row, Macon County Master Gardeners, Green Thumb community gardeners and I have planted a selection of tomato cultivars for our annual Tomato Taste Panel. This year we will taste tomatoes on Wednesday, September 3 rd at 1 and 6 p.m. During this event, we invite the community to join us in tasting over 20 different heirloom and hybrid tomato cultivars. The goal i...

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Basil

Besides vine-ripened tomatoes, my favorite produce harvested from my garden each summer is fresh basil. The spicy sweet fragrance is no comparison to the faded scent of dried versions. Basil is an ancient herb that has many legends attached to it. Legend links basil to just about any emotion or feeling imaginable—love and hate, pain and pleasure, basil has been associated with all of th...

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Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are one of those plants that both enamor and frustrate gardeners. As much as we love them, when they don't live up to either how they looked when we purchased them, or they don't look like the catalog picture, we wonder what we're doing wrong. I planted my first hydrangea as a new homeowner nine years ago, and for the first two years hoped no one noticed that the local horticulture e...

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Plants and the Weather

The Master Gardener Help Desk at the Extension office is always busy this time of year. Calls come in year round, but spring and summer are always the busiest months. It's not unusual to see the same problem show up again and again depending on the time of year. For example, Japanese Beetle questions typically begin in late June, and Asian Lady Beetle questions usually start in the fall as the...

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