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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Horticulture Events/Programs
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Become a Master Gardener

Master Gardeners are a special group of people who all have a common interest – a love of gardening and nature and the desire to share that knowledge with others. The Master Gardener Volunteer program is a very successful University of Illinois Extension Horticulture program. The program aim is to give intensive horticultural training to individuals who will, in turn, share this training with t...

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Free Summer Gardening Webinars also on YouTube

The summer series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production. The first session of the series is titled, Using Essential Oils Safely. The program is offered twice –on June 27 at 1:30 p.m. and again on June 29 at 6:30 p.m. Essential oils have been growing in popularity, but some p...

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Canton Garden Walk Showcases Five Landscapes

It seems like yesterday that Judy Holloway walked into my office wanting to start a Canton garden club and annual garden walk. As a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener, she did just that, and much more. Since 1999, the Spoon River Garden Club has sponsored garden walks across Fulton County. This year's walk is on Saturday, June 10, between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Featured are...

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Free Spring Gardening Webinars Announced

The spring series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production. The first session of the series is titled, Growing Vegetables for Beginners . The program is offered twice – on April 18 at 1:30 p.m. and again on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. Produce always taste better when you are...

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Horticulture Heals

March 19 – 25 is National Horticultural Therapy Week. Its purpose is "to encourage others to help expand and elevate horticultural therapy as a profession." People who interact with plants are healthier. Thus, using plants in therapy to help improve a person's body, mind and spirit just make good sense. Horticultural Therapy is a growing profession and field of study. Although h...

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Four Seasons social media pic

Perennial Flower Garden Design

Have you ever seen a garden that just took your breath away? You visit two months later, and the garden is again in full glory, and you wonder how do people do it? How do you design a garden that offers visual interest through the seasons? Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, highlights University of Illinois Extension resources that will help you create y...

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Gardeners' BIG Day is April 29, 2017

Once again, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and their partners have rounded up a top-notch Gardeners' BIG Day. The 18 th annual event will be Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 8:00-3:00 at Dickson Mounds Museum. Attendees will hear speakers, visit vendors, and see gardening displays. Partnering sponsors include University of Illinois Extension Fulton and Mason County Ma...

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Garden Day Events in West Central Illinois

Here are some upcoming Garden Day events in West Central Illinois in 2017. March 4  Home and Garden day - Bloomington - SOLD OUT March 11 Gardener's Palette – Quincy March 11...

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Orchids make elegant houseplants

I have a couple orchids at home but have not had great success with them. Sandy Mason, Illinois Master Gardener Coordinator, writes the following about orchids. She also teaches a webinar about moth orchids. I'm hoping that Sandy will show me how to make my orchids grow better. Not all orchids enjoy the temperature and humidity commonly found in homes; therefore, some may require specia...

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Ella Maxwell receives Illinois Outstanding Master Gardener award in 2015.

Date Set for 2017 Gardeners' BIG Day

Get ready, here it comes - the 18th Annual Gardeners' BIG Day! University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners in Fulton and Mason County sponsor this event, which is set for Saturday, April 29th, at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. The days keynote address will be given by Ella Maxwell. Ella is a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, an Illinois Certi...

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How to Have Healthy Houseplants Webinar and YouTube

Having houseplants in our homes make them come alive. In fact, studies indicate that houseplants help keep people happier and healthier. Plants fill an important psychological function, while also cleansing indoor air, and making us more productive. Houseplants add life and beauty to a home. I will provide simple tips to select and care for houseplants in this webinar/video. After viewi...

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Master Gardeners Provide Gardening Tips at Various 2017 Events

In 2016, 169 Master Gardener volunteers contributed 13,920 hours in the Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties. Their volunteer service is valued at $328,000. Master Gardeners have several large events scheduled in our four county Extension Unit. Stop by their informational booth at the Peoria Home Show on February 24-28 in the Peoria Civic Center. They will answer general...

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Free! Four Seasons Gardening Winter Series Webinars Announced

The winter series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program focuses on seeds, houseplants, and orchids. The first session of the series is titled Seed Starting and is offered twice – on January 31 at 1:30 p.m. and again on February 2 at 6:30 p.m. Horticulture Educator Kim Ellson discusses how growing plants from seed is both rewarding and cost effecti...

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Virginia creeper has leaflets of 3-7, while poison ivy has leaflets of 3.
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How Plants Climb

As a plant geek I am often fascinated by how plants work. Take vining and climbing plants and the methods that they use to grow vertically. In broad terms, climbing plants are either clinging or non-clinging. As the name implies, clinging vines attached themselves to a surface using special features, such as suction cups or aerial roots. Virginia creeper ( Parthenocissus quin...

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Backyard Greenhouses Extend the Garden Season

Every year my Dad (Ron Simmons) starts many annual plants for our family in his backyard greenhouse. I get most of my flowering annuals, vegetables, and herbs from dad's greenhouse. His plants are amazingly healthy and grow better than any other plants in my gardens. I see more and more hobby greenhouses and hoop-houses popping up in homeowner's backyards. What's the difference? They are both...

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Plastic pot recyclying display GBD 2009
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Master Gardeners Provide Gardening Tips at Various Events

In 2015, 163 Master Gardener volunteers contributed 12,863 hours in the Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties. Their volunteer service is valued at $296,749 (using an estimated dollar value of volunteer time of $23.07 per hour as calculated by Independent Sector). Master Gardeners have several large events scheduled in our four county Extension Unit. Stop by their informa...

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ICC Master Gardener Demonstration Garden
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ICC Master Gardener Demo Garden Provides Educational Seminars

The ICC Summer Gardening Educational Series provides gardening information to the general public. The educational series is part of the ICC Tri-County Extension Master Gardener Demo Garden located at Illinois Central College's Land Laboratory in East Peoria. Master Gardeners from Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford also plan and maintain a Demonstration Garden for the public at this location....

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Tranquil Garden Mini-Series at Spoon River College in Havana

Spoon River College and University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Rhonda Ferree are teaming up to offer a Gardening Mini-Series in April at the Havana campus. In the Tranquil Landscape Series, Rhonda Ferree shared tips for creating tranquil outdoor gardens that are easy to maintain. On Monday, April 13 from 3-5 p.m. Rhonda will present her "Words of Weed Wisdom" that teach...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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The Good, the Bad and the Lovely Plants: Free Webinar Series

University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educators addresses Garden Biodiversity with a free webinar series called "The Good, the Bad and the Lovely Plants." Illinois horticulturists and gardeners revel in interesting plant characteristics but do not want to cultivate plants that disrupt the biodiversity of our natural Illinois landscape. Cultivating the biodiversity of plants in the Illi...

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Garden Day Events Abound!

Learn more about gardening by attending a garden day event this spring. "Garden day events are sponsored by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and are held all over the state," says Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension educator in horticulture. "You can find a garden event to attend on almost every Saturday between late February and early April...

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JP CDL 3-13-10 Sharon Spangler and Grandson Ryan Spangler visit a vendor booth at 2010 Gardeners   Big Day   Both are interested in horticulture
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Learn Something New in 2015

I'm really excited about all the great gardening programs we have available here at University of Illinois Extension in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. Here are just a few examples. Our Master Gardener program provides the most comprehensive educational opportunity for gardeners. "Those who complete Master Gardener training will provide 60 hours of volunteer service in a two year...

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Four Seasons Gardening Programs Available on YouTube

The University of Illinois Extension Four Seasons Gardening Series is available for home viewing at go.illinois.edu/4seasons_webinars. The Four Seasons Gardening Series is a seasonal series of gardening topics offered virtually throughout the state of Illinois. Members of the University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Team collab...

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Garden Day Events

Learn more about gardening by attending a garden day event this spring. Garden day events are sponsored by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and are held all over the state. You can find a garden event to attend on almost every Saturday between late February and early April. I am scheduled to speak at three garden day events this year. My garden day circuit begins March...

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Learn Something New in 2014

My grandma Simmons used to tell me that we should learn something new every day. I still think that is a great idea and have decided to make that my New Year's resolution this year. If you want to join me, University of Illinois Extension can help. We cover many topics, including gardening. Our Master Gardener program provides the most comprehensive educational opportunity for gardeners...

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Fall Horticulture Programs

Want to learn more about plants? We have several horticultural training sessions scheduled for this fall. The fall series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program, which focuses on environmental stewardship and backyard food production, is underway. The next session titled, Winter Wise Your Landscape: Knowledge to Prevent Costly Mistakes , is offered...

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