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Tales from a Plant Addict

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

Iris

Growing up I thought that all iris were purple with yellow fuzzy "beards". I also knew that my mom hated them. I spent a lot of time alongside my mom as a girl helping her dig up the persistent rhizomes. When she and my dad bought their house, the flower bed on the south side of the house plus a few oddball places around the yard were overflowing with the exceedingly tall purple bearded iris. W...

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Hummingbirds

Each summer we look forward to seeing hummingbirds buzzing around our backyard. Hummingbirds are uniquely "American"; they are found only in the Western Hemisphere, in North and South America. There are between 325 and 340 species of hummingbirds in the world, depending on how the birds are classified. Most of these nearly 340 species live in the tropics. Seventeen species regularly nes...

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Calla Lilies

Most of us are familiar with calla lilies as cut flowers, but did you know they are a great summer bulb to plant in your garden or even in a container? What is a summer bulb? Summer bulbs are summer-blooming plants that have some type of underground storage structure. Though called 'bulbs', they may or may not be a true bulb. In central Illinois, most summer bulbs are not cold hardy and...

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Oriental Poppies

In search of orange-flowered perennials for my orange and blue Illini garden, Oriental Poppies ( Papaver orientale ) were a natural choice. The plants I used in my Illini garden were divided off a large clump that I planted years ago at my parents' home. I don't know the name of the cultivar, but their glowing orange petals are striking this time of year. As the name suggests, Or...

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Slow Gardening

Modern life shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. If anything, modern conveniences allow us to pack more activity into each day, usually in the form of "multitasking". Science tells us that the brain can only perform one task at a time effectively, but still our modern sensibilities tell us we are not productive citizens unless we are doing five things at once! If we're not carefu...

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Wild Violets

As a young girl I had a different sense of what constituted a "weed". I would make gardens by transplanting various volunteer plants I found sprouting up in the garden or the yard. This got me into plenty of trouble! Most of the time what I cultivated was a carefully manicured garden of weeds, or occasionally flowers grown from seed. One of the plants I routinely transplanted from our y...

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Edible Container Gardens

Growing vegetables in containers is nothing new; there are entire books dedicated to this topic. I have a lot of experience in growing vegetables in traditional in-ground gardens or raised beds, and have grown a few different vegetables in various containers. Successfully growing vegetables in containers largely hinges on having sufficient amounts of soil to support the plants, and bein...

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