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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Hawthorn Trees

I was recently asked to identify a hawthorn tree growing on the Bradley campus in Peoria. Hawthorns are among the groups of small trees that are noted for their wintertime berries. Washington hawthorn ( Crataegus phaenopyrum ) is a hawthorn for all seasons. The flowers, foliage, winter berries, and dense growth all make it an attention getting tree. The Washington hawtho...

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Just What Is Quinoa?

I have been enjoying trying new foods, especially those I prepare from scratch myself. Recently I made homemade granola and several types of bread. Recipes called for ingredients that I wasn't familiar with: quinoa, flax seed, wheat germ, and wheat bran. That, of course, made my plant geek mind want to know more about the plants that produce them. For the next few weeks I'll share what I learned w...

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Gifts for the Gardener

Every year I try to provide ideas for those of you who are searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family. This year I'm highlighting some new gardening books that I recently read. Entomologist Doug Tallamy has two books that have changed the way I think of gardening and landscapes in general. "Bringing Nature Home" in many ways is a plea for using natives in the landsca...

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African violet
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African Violets

African violets are houseplants that most people recognize. They are very popular and easy-to-grow. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says "African violets add a welcome splash of color indoors throughout the year." African violet ( Saintpaulia ionantha ) is a member of a large, interesting plant family known as Gesneriads. They a...

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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.
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Dried Flower Arrangements

Thanksgiving always makes me think of beautiful fall decorations. In addition to flowers, stems, and leaves that may be dried indoors, there are many materials that can be collected in the fall and used almost directly in arrangements after gathering. These include many seedpods, cones, grain, grasses, and berries found in the garden, as well as in fields and along roadsides. Here are some spe...

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walnut, sweetgum, chestnut, buckeye, hickory, acorn, locust, hedge

Hedge Apples – Facts & Myths

Hedge apples seem to be if great abundance this fall. I've also had some questions about using the hedge apples and the tree's wood for various purposes. This article by retired extension educator Bob Frazee, originally published in 2009, contains answers to these questions and more. According to Bob Frazee, retired University of Illinois Natural Resources Educator, hedge apples are produced b...

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IMG 8039 - Copy  ferreer@illinois edu
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Winterizing Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

Growing plants in containers is very popular. Almost anything can be grown in containers, including trees and shrubs. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that containers provide a feeling of permanence and beauty to an area. "Unfortunately for those of us in central Illinois, containerized plants often experience severe winter injury and ofte...

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