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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
herbs drying

Dry herbs for winter use

I recently harvested herbs from my garden. They are drying in my kitchen so that I will remember to use them regularly. I add them to my evening tea or as added flavor to our meals. Here are some of my favorites. Lemon balm is true to its name. This plant has a very strong lemon scent and provides a nice subtle lemon flavor. My plant grew about two foot tall this year. Since this is a tender p...

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Holiday Cactus
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Prepare Now for Christmas Blooms

Although Christmas is still a couple of months away, it is time to begin preparing some of them to flower during the holiday season. This typically involves changing their environment in some way to force them into bloom. Poinsettias initiate flowers through a process called photoperiodism, which is the plant response to light levels. The colorful part we see are actually modified leave...

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Fall Bulb Planting

Start next year's flower display this fall. Now is the time to set out the spring flowering bulbs. It seems like a lot of work now, but after the long winter, you will enjoy those blooms. In addition to the standards such as tulips and daffodils, try some of the other small flowering bulbs. For example, anemones, snowdrops, and winter aconite all bloom very early and have extraordinarily beauti...

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Banana tree with Cardinal climber on 7-13-12

Go Tropical with Ornamental Bananas

For many years I've been growing banana plants around my pool to give it a tropical feel in the summer. By autumn they have large stems with four- to five-foot-long leaves that sour to heights over ten feet tall. Bananas are grown here for their ornamental value. Although some might bloom, we don't have a long enough growing season for fruit to develop and ripen. Ornamental bananas come...

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Arrangement made with fresh, dried, and recycled decorations.  Both are examples of quick and easy arrangements made at the coming Design on a Pine workshop.

Fall decorations from the garden by Martha Smith

Many of the plants in the autumn garden can be used to make decorations, said Martha Smith, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Making them can be fun for the whole family. "Autumn brings its own personality," she said. "Plant colors change in response to shorter days and cooler temperatures." "Flowers can be collected and dried or preserved. Seed pods...

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Sorghum field in Delaware. Photo by Dot Abott-Donnelly, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Sorghum Syrup and More

I remember going on the Spoon River Drive each fall with my Grandma and Grandpa Simmons. I loved visiting the old school house in London Mills and eating ham-n-beans scooped from a large cast-iron pot. Each year my Grandpa purchased his annual supply of sorghum syrup. Sorghum is a group of plants in the grass family that includes crops, ornamentals, and weeds. As a crop, sorghum ( So...

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Ornamental gourds drying

Ornamental Gourds

It's fall festival time again. Time for spiced apples, beautiful fall colors, arts and crafts, and locally grown produce. I've never been to a fall festival when those items didn't include gourds either for sale individually or crafted into exquisite creations. Gourds have been cultivated for thousands of years by many cultures worldwide. Found in Egyptian tombs were 4,000-year-old gour...

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