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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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Nature Journaling Reduces Stress

I've mentioned many times that I love to journal, and I usually write surrounded by plants and nature. I use nature journaling as a creative form of self-expression, but I find that it also promotes relaxation and calmness. Many people journal. In its most basic form, journaling is a daily record of news and events that happen in a person's life. Writing down our day-to-day happenings s...

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goldenrod
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Spoon River Drive Scavenger Hunt

The Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive is about to begin! I challenge you to ignore the crowds and traffic jams and to focus on our beautiful Spoon River Country. As a former guidebook stated, "The Spoon River Valley is filled with woodlands and fertile farmlands that provide both a natural beauty and rich cultural heritage." During these two weekends, take the opportunity...

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Watering bags work well for new trees.
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Reduce Tree Stress to Keep Them Healthy

The most common questions we get in our Extension offices are about trees. Unfortunately, most people do not notice their trees until they show major dieback or leaf drop. Often by the time we get the call, the tree has irreversible damage, and I have no magic formula to save it. The odd weather patterns the last past few years have left many trees stressed. Stressed trees are less able...

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Emerald ash borer hole and adult beetle
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Plan For Your Ash Tree's Future

The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) continues to cause havoc across Illinois, and beyond. As I drive around Peoria and Tazewell counties, I see dead and dying ash trees everywhere. Although it looks like the insect is killing the trees quickly, it is likely that the borer has been there for a few years. Of the four counties that I cover as a Horticulture Educator with University of Illi...

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Hosta garden
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How do Plant's Decide What Color to Wear?

Most plants have a very strict dress code, donning the same colors and style every year. When colors vary, the plant is simply named something else, or it indicates that there is a problem. Botanically, plant colors are fascinating to me. We all learn in science class that plants get their green color from chlorophyll in the leaves, and the plant uses the chlorophyll to photosynthesize...

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Venus fly trap
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Plants That Move

No plants do not have legs, but they do move. Although I don't see it happen, each week my African violet leaves lean toward the light requiring me to straighten them with a quarter turn. I also don't see the prayer plants fold their leaves each night and reopen them each morning. Usually, plant movement is very subtle. Yet, there are a few plants that will move right before your eyes....

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Plant Garlic This Fall

Do you use a lot of garlic in your cooking? If so you might try growing your own. Fall is the best time to plant garlic in your garden. Garlic is a hardy bulb, and thus is best planted in the fall when other bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, are planted. October is the ideal time in this part of Illinois. With garlic, new plants are grown from the individual sections of the bulb know...

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swallowtail butterfly
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Butterflies Spread Cheer

I am seeing more butterflies this summer than I have in recent years. As I walk my property, I see monarchs, swallowtails, buckeyes, hackberry, painted ladies, cabbage whites, and more. This year I even saw a viceroy while mowing! Although there are many reasons for the increase in butterflies this year, I'd like to think that my choice of plants has helped. Adult butterflies suck necta...

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