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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Don't Move Firewood

The emerald ash borer (EAB) continues to move across Illinois, devastating ash trees in its path. Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, says that the most effective way to stop EAB is to not move firewood. "While enjoying campfires and wiener roasts this fall, take a moment to be sure the firewood you use is pest free." Martha Smith, Uni...

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Sage in bloom on 4-30-12

Tea Gardens

I grew up in a tea drinking family. My Grandma Kinsel emigrated here from South Wales, England in 1919. The first words we heard every time we visited her were, "Would you like a cup of tea?" Since I'm a gardener as well as a tea drinker, I put together a program on Tea Gardens this year. This program cover several types of tea gardens and the tea garden design componen...

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Master Naturalist Trainees Explore Smartphone Apps

Our Extension Unit launched the Master Naturalist program this fall by training 20 new volunteers. Training began on August 31st with a session on the Natural Division of Illinois and another on Understand the Natural World. Since then they've explored an arboretum, prairie, and Wildlife Prairie Park. They've learned about snakes and reptiles, mammals and prairies in an up close and personal way....

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Red maple fall colors

Early Fall Color

Have you noticed many plants already starting to turn fall colors? Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that it is still a bit early for most fall coloring. Ferree suspects that early fall color is often a sign that a plant is under stress. "Stress is defined as exposure to unfavorable conditions". "One sign of plant stress we...

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Tree Insects Increase Likely After Drought

Insect borers and some scale insects are likely to be more numerous than normal on trees for the next several years", says Phil Nixon, University of Illinois Extension Entomologist. "During extended dry conditions, trees lose root mass, resulting in a reduction of sap flow and dieback of branches". "The reduced sap flow provides opportunities for borer attack that would...

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herb garden on 9-17-12
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My Garden in Late September

Fall colors are making an appearance in my garden. Plants soaked up the rains of hurricane Isaac and many were able to burst into their full fall splendor. Here are some  highlights for me. White impatiens glisten in the rain Berries turn bright red on cotoneaster shrubs Tropical hibiscus looks like orange sherbet Autumn Joy Sedum start fall colorin...

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Musk thistle
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Good and Bad Thistles

Yesterday while at Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria for Master Naturalist training I saw a really beautiful bull thistle plant. There are many different types of thistle. Two that you'll commonly see growing in central Illinois are the bull and musk thistle. They are also both quite pretty. They have large 1-2" seed head with bright purple tufts of petals. The plants are both quite pri...

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2012 Master Gardener Award Winners!

Master Gardener program coordinator Julia Pryor attended a  banquet at the Illinois MG Conference on September 7th in Crystal Lake, IL where state Master Gardener (MG) Award winners were recognized. Julia provides this summary of the twelve winners from the University of Illinois Extension Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit (FMPT). Good things are growing in central Illinois, and the ha...

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