The Garden Scoop The Garden Scoop is a collection of reflections about the Master Gardeners in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Vermilion County Master Gardeners Garden Walk Sunday June 11, 2017 Thu, 01 Jun 2017 16:09:00 +0000 Each year, the Master Gardeners highlight different areas of Vermilion County. This year's walk will feature gardens in the North Danville area. The Garden Walk offers the perfect opportunity to slow down and enjoy the beauty of summer as you meander through gardens that are only open to the public on this one day. Bring a friend or family member and find new ideas for your own garden. Vermilion County Master Gardeners will hold their 17th annual Garden Walk on Sunday, June 11, from Noon-5 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 and available for purchase at the Vermilion County Extension Office (Plaza 31, 3164 North Vermilion, Danville across from the Village Mall), Danville Gardens, Berry's Garden Center and Big R in Danville and Tilton.

You may also purchase tickets on the day of the walk, Sunday June 11 Noon-5pm at Sunset Memorial Park 3901 Vermilion in Danville or at Bismarck Elementary School from Master Gardeners who will be stationed at each garden.

The Cunningham Children's Garden, located at Bismarck School, is the first stop on the walk. Come and explore a garden planted by children! Master Gardener Sue Colby has been working with students at Bismarck Elementary for many years to create a space filled with color, texture, butterflies and other garden elements. The Cunningham Children's Garden has a rock garden filled with succulents, school of fish (and boat), perennial bed and art work done by students and teachers over the years.

Forty-four years ago, Master Gardener John Bodensteiner and his artistic wife, Bonnie, moved into their home. At that time, it was a blank canvas without trees or flowering plants other than wildflowers. Over the years, they have used Bonnie's creativity and John's wealth of horticulture knowledge to design a small botanic garden. You will find milkweed growing sporadically in the garden beds to attract monarch butterflies. John's orchard includes apple, pear, plum, cherry, peach and pawpaw trees. For the 2017 Garden Walk, they have worked with their grandchildren to create an Alice in Wonderland theme. As you walk through the garden, you will find several tables depicting the "unbirthday" tea party. Teapots, cups and saucers and several wonderland characters are incorporated within the garden setting. Enjoy the short birthday party skit performed by the Bodensteiner's grandchildren.

Larry and Bonnie Messmore started with a bare lot in 1972. They have always enjoyed spending time outdoors however when they retired they decided to dedicate more time and energy to perfecting their garden. The results are impressive with over 75 skillfully pruned shrubs and trees. This includes an extensive collection of peach, plum, apple and cherry trees. Blueberry bushes have their own raised bed with perfect soil conditions resulting in bushes loaded with fruit. Larry has devised a system with self-watering strawberries and potatoes. There is a large vegetable garden planted vertically to make the most of space, limit diseases and best of all simplify weeding. Larry and Bonnie welcome you to enjoy their garden and look for their salute to our military.

Master Gardener Marjorie Loggins shares her property with her son, Bill Cannon. Their gardens reflect their wide-ranging taste in horticulture. Bill has an appreciation for hydrangeas, hostas and hardy hibiscus. Marjorie is known for her love of trees—magnolia, smoke trees, Hinoke cypress, Mugo pines, oak, walnut, blue spruce, white pines and even crape myrtle can be found in the landscape. Her gardening style includes Japanese and formal English elements; both are very different but are similar in organization. She has designed five flowerbeds to encompass this diversity. There is a large pond in the front yard and two more in the backyard. A pagoda, vegetable garden and variety of fruits including strawberries, peach trees and grapes await visitors.

Simon and Shirley Leung have created an eclectic space with lots of color and texture in their plants. An immaculate koi pond graces their backyard. Simon is always happy to answer questions on how to best maintain a pond! Keeping with the water theme are two fountains. Animal topiaries add a touch of whimsy balanced with statues, arbors and trellises. Reblooming irises, roses, lilies and hydrangeas fill garden beds, along with the less-common shrimp plant. Garden art, like hand-blown glass gazing balls, accent the different areas. The Leung's have added a new garden in the front of their home since they last appeared on the Garden Walk years ago.

The gardens at Sunset Memorial Park began in the 1960's when the Darby family purchased the property. Mature trees, flowering shrubs and perennials like crocosomia, hardy hibiscus, butterfly flower, liatris, amsonia and baptisia frame colorful annuals planted in masses. A swan pond is home to two mute swans and their 2017 babies. It has become a community treasure. The Darbys are honored to be the park's caretakers and invite you to visit. The park's dedicated team of horticulturists includes landscape architect and Master Gardener Mary Stonecipher along with a talented grounds crew who use flowers and plants in the landscape to bring healing and comfort to everyone who visits.

Julie and Bob Colby's property has grown and transformed from a weedy half acre in 2002 to a full acre of native plants, trees and flowering shrubs. Julie has been a Master Gardener for 8 years and has taken Master Naturalist classes as well. Her garden reflects how she has evolved as a gardener. Julie and Bob coexist with nature, working to make their property friendly to hummingbirds, pollinators, bats, birds, deer and more. While many have issues with deer in urban areas, Julie and Bob have learned that with the right native plants, deer tend to stay away from prized perennials. Special features in the garden include garden art and memorials to people and pets the couple has lost over the years.

Each year, the University of Illinois sponsors the Vermilion County Garden Walk through its Master Gardener program.  Homeowners have spent months preparing for this year's event, which will showcase special and unique gardens that are private the other 364 days of the year.

Proceeds from the Garden Walk fund Master Gardener involvement and educational programs in community gardens. In addition to spreading knowledge and beauty in our communities, Vermilion County Master Gardeners work with children and veterans as well as provide fresh vegetables through the Plant-a-Row and Garden Share programs. The Master Gardeners wish to extend a thank you to their sponsors: Berry's Garden Center, Big R, Country Arbors in Urbana, Danville Gardens, Georgetown Pallet and Schuren Nursery.

Planting Milkweed for Monarchs Mon, 15 May 2017 17:03:00 +0000 Consider this- the monarch is the only butterfly known to migrate like a bird. They can fly 100 miles in a day and travel up to 3000 miles to reach their winter habitat in Mexico. Upon arrival, they will join tens of thousands of fellow monarchs and spend the winter gathered in fir trees. As spring approaches, they will breed, lay eggs and a new generation will start the cycle all over flying north in search of milkweed.

That's where we can help. Monarchs will look for milkweed plants when they are ready to lay their eggs. Newly hatched caterpillars only eat milkweed. The toxins in milkweed which are poisonous to so many animals keep predators away from the yellow striped caterpillars. Even humans find the milky sap to be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. It is also a skin irritant.

As many people know, schools, gardeners and naturalists have been working to re-build the monarch population by restoring milkweed to our landscape. Native butterfly weed, swamp milkweed and common milkweed are all excellent choices for a monarch way station. These plants will survive in your garden for many years.

Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed is a native milkweed and is the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year. It forms a small shrub-like plant but will die down to the ground completely over the winter. The plant has bright orange flowers that are attractive to many pollinators and is fairly easy to grow.

I have also had great success with annual milkweed. Tropical milkweed or blood flower is very appealing to both hummingbirds and butterflies and is pictured in the photo. With its showy red and yellow blossoms, Asclepias curassavica is a showstopper in the garden and a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. It is only a perennial in zones 8a-11 so seeding is not an issue. This annual blooms until the first frost and is deer and rabbit resistant.

No matter what type of milkweed you choose-and there are many types-try to make room in your garden for at least one or two plants. The monarch butterfly needs your support.



Vermilion County Master Gardener Annual May Plant Sale in Danville Thu, 11 May 2017 09:18:00 +0000 Everyone likes a sale and gardeners are no exception. The Vermilion County Master Gardeners will hold their annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 13 at The First Presbyterian Church, 100 North Franklin St. Danville from 7am - 2pm.

The event will take place inside the First Presbyterian Gymnasium. As always there will be a wide selection of annuals, perennials, heirloom tomatoes, herbs and even some house plants to choose from. Having the opportunity to talk with the gardener who grew the plant you wish to purchase is a unique experience.

There will be a special section for pollinator-friendly plants. Many people are interested in attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Master Gardeners will be on hand to suggest plants that will help you create a habitat to draw in nature.

Arrive early for the best selection as this is a popular community event. Doors open at 7am. Volunteers will be available to help load plants into your car. Admission and parking are free.

Proceeds fund Master Gardener involvement and educational programs at community gardens including projects with children and veterans. In 2017, Vermilion County Master Gardeners volunteered over 7,500 hours in Vermilion County. They grew and donated about 1,500 pounds of fresh produce to the local food pantry through the Plant a Row and Garden Share program last summer.

Call the Vermilion County Extension office 217-442-8615 for more information.

University of Illinois*U.S. Dept. of Agriculture* Local Extension Councils Cooperating University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodations to participate call 217-442-8615.

Celebrate Spring with Garden Day Workshop-Keynote Speaker Doug Tallamy Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:23:00 +0000 The landscape is drab and we impatiently await the first tulip. But hang in there, because the University of Illinois Extension Garden Day Workshop and Spring Festival is right around the corner! For over a decade, local gardeners have celebrated the arrival of spring by attending this yearly event. Garden Day features everything plant lovers enjoy: speakers who entertain and educate, a wide variety of vendors to shop, a delicious made-from-scratch lunch, a silent auction, door prizes and a raffle room. It is a great way to shake off the winter doldrums and get inspiration for this year's garden.

Vermilion County Master Gardeners will hold this year's event on Saturday, March 11, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., at DACC in Danville, IL. The doors open at 8 a.m. and the public is welcome to start shopping at the multitude of vendors and visit the raffle room. If you wish to listen to the speakers, enjoy the tasty lunch prepared by the DACC Culinary Arts School and receive a bag filled with garden information and goodies, the price is $25. It should be noted that this event has sold out the last several years with no room for walk-ins.

The first program will be 'Garden Trends' with DACC Horticulture Educator, Amanda Krabbe. Scatter gardens for the lazy gardener; underused edibles like immature sweet corn, carrot tops, radish pods and squash blossoms;and micro greens—What do all these things have in common? They are current garden trends that will be discussed in Amanda Krabbe's thought-provoking presentation. There will be micro greens to taste after her presentation.

The second program, '8 months of Color in the Garden,' will have you dreaming of beautiful blooms with Vermilion County Master Gardener Pat Sollars. Sollars has been gardening since she was a child. She has been featured on numerous Garden Walks, holds her own annual plant sale and heads the Master Gardener speaker's bureau. Pat also collects perennials with over 300 different types in her Danville garden. She will share how to achieve long-lasting color in the garden by using shrubs, trees, annuals, bulbs and of course perennials, providing you with gorgeous blooms from early spring through late autumn.

The Keynote speaker is the popular author Doug Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware-Newark. Tallamy has been called the 'guru of the habitat gardening movement'.

Tallamy has said, "We can no longer view plants only as ornaments but must consider all of their roles when selecting them for our landscapes." Many homeowners are concerned that natives are prone to insect damage, messy, unattractive and cannot be used formally. Tallamy will dispel these misconceptions and suggest ways to make your property a showpiece without losing its ecological function in the local ecosystem.

Think, as Tallamy does, about having something blooming every week from early spring through late autumn so birds and pollinators have a steady diet. This will create a living space that works with nature providing a healthy and therapeutic environment for both homeowner and wildlife.

Doug has said planting a garden is not merely outdoor decorating. "Plants do so many things, and if we only look at what they look like—if we only look at their decorative value—then we're ignoring all those wonderful things they do, and we actually pay a heavy price for that."

To reserve your spot in this annual event, stop by the Vermilion County Extension office at 3164 N Vermilion in Danville to pay by cash or check. You may wait and pay $30 at the door, but space is limited and in recent years Garden Day sold out before the big day with no room for walk-ins.

To pay by credit card, visit the website We can only accept credit card payments online.

Profits are used to fund and maintain Master Gardener educational programs and community projects in Vermilion County. If you have questions, call the University of Illinois Extension office at 217.442.8615 and ask for Jenney Hanrahan.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodations to participate call 217.442.8615.


University of Illinois * U.S. Dept. of Agriculture * Local Extension Councils Cooperating

Why I Force Bulbs Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:55:00 +0000 Winter in Illinois is long for gardeners and by late February I start looking outside -desperate for any sign of plant life. Tired of waiting for the first crocus to appear, I have become somewhat addicted to forcing bulbs. It's not difficult and you can enjoy hyacinths, tulips and daffodils from late January thru March. It makes those months significantly less dreary and you will enjoy every petal of your indoor garden.

The best time to start the process is in October however it is not too late to have tulips indoors before the first daffodil blooms outdoors. The key will be giving the bulbs enough of a cooling period. Basically that means the bulb requires about twelve to fourteen weeks of cool (35-50 degrees) but not freezing temperatures. A garage, cellar or cold dark basement will all suffice. Refrigeration also works however it is important the bulbs are not stored with fruit like apples which produce a gas that can cause premature growth and no flower.

Containers with chilled bulbs may be brought indoors after about 12 weeks, some require closer to 14 weeks. The length of time depends on the individual variety. The bulbs should flower about three to four weeks after you bring them indoors. If you start early enough you can have a steady succession of blooms by staggering when you bring your containers inside. Some bulbs like Paperwhites and Amaryllis don't need a cold treatment because they developed in an area of the world that does not have cold winters.

Feel free to get creative with your containers. Last year, I used a small copper teapot I found at a thrift store. A word of warning-if there is not a drainage hole at the bottom of the container water carefully- otherwise the bulbs will rot. Most plants require good drainage and this rule is mandatory for almost all bulbs.

Hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips are the most popular choices because they are easy to find in our area and are reliable when forced. Buy firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size. Small, paper dry, moldy or mushy bulbs are not worth your time or money.

Use a potting mix that drains well-never garden soil which is too heavy and may contain insect eggs or plant diseases. The planting mix does not require organic material because nature has already stored all the energy it needs to flower. Plant the bulbs just below the surface reserving as much space as possible for the roots to develop. Outdoors bulbs are planted much deeper to insulate them from cold temperatures and protect from hungry rodents. Hyacinths and narcissus can be forced in water using special glass vases or dishes with stones. Make sure the water only touches the base of the bulb –again you want to avoid having the bulbs rot.

In containers the bulbs will flower for just one season so you can maximize their effect by planting closely together -almost touching with their tips slightly above the surface. Place tulip bulbs flat side out so the largest leaves hang over the edge of the pot. Water the bulbs after planting. The soil-less mix should not be saturated but also not be allowed to dry out completely.

Gardeners often toss these bulbs after they are done flowering. However many people will plant them outdoors adding a few scoops of compost to the hole. The bulbs may not flower the next year -needing time to absorb nutrients and store energy but will often re-bloom. Nature is resilient.


Why Become A Master Gardener? Tue, 01 Nov 2016 16:08:00 +0000 When I am in the company of Master Gardeners I never cease to be humbled by their versatility and the sheer amount of knowledge and talent they possess. They come from all walks of life and are passionate about all aspects of gardening. Their interests cover everything from flowers and vegetables to herbs, gourds and beekeeping. There are novice and experienced gardeners in the program and all are there to learn. Perhaps, the biggest benefit to being a Master Gardener is having the opportunity to constantly discover more about a subject one can never know everything about.

Master Gardener interns attend one class a week for ten weeks beginning in late January. It is the perfect time of year to be planning next summer's garden. Each class covers a different garden related topic like flowers, soil, composting, insects, vegetables etc. University of Illinois educators teach the classes from a manual developed for people gardening in the state of Illinois. The State of Illinois has over 3,000 Master Gardeners!

Master Gardener can be found at numerous community gardens. They work with veterans, children and senior citizens. In Vermilion County they hold an annual Garden Day Workshop/ Spring Festival each March, Plant Sale in May and Garden Walk each June. They host a radio program on Wednesdays, monthly garden classes on topics like raised beds, herbs, tomatoes, garden design and invasive plants that are open to the public. They raise over 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables for the local food pantry each year. Funds generated by Master Gardeners go back into their community projects; educating the public, and raising an interest in gardening.

Gardeners are always excited to find new and unusual plants. We can never resist adding one more perennial to our garden. It is this variety of plants that adds color, texture and beauty to the landscape. A garden with just one or two flowers would be oh so boring. It is the constant change and diversity that we enjoy because a garden is above all else a living entity. Interns represent new plants in the garden and we welcome them with anticipation and delight.



Making Fermented Beverages at Home Thu, 13 Oct 2016 13:45:00 +0000 One of the more recent trends in gardening is fermentation gardens. The practice of fermenting food and drinks is nothing new. Archeologists tell us humans have been making beer and wine for thousands of years. My Italian grandfather made zinfandel wine every autumn. His wine press sits in my basement. When he was alive I was too young to appreciate his talent. Some day I hope to try and recreate the LaVecchia vintage.

There has been a resurgence of people growing hops for home brewing and assorted fruits for home-made wine. Some people enjoy the creative aspect of home brewing while others appreciate the science. The farm to table movement has more and more people interested in growing their own food and that interest has extended to making their own beverages.

University of Illinois Extension Vermilion County Master Gardeners have invited Doug Gucker to speak on the topic of home fermentation on Tuesday, October 18, at 6 p.m. at the Danville Public Library, located at 319 N. Vermilion. Gucker is a Local Food Systems and Small Farms educator with University of Illinois Extension. If you are interested in making your own beverages at home, there is no better source than a local expert!

Gucker makes ginger ale at home and says it is far easier than people realize. He also says that "Once you have the homemade version you will never purchase store bought ginger ale again!"

Gucker is also experienced with making mead. Mead is thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverage and is made from fermenting honey with yeast. Although one of the primary ingredients of mead is honey, this beverage is not necessarily sweet and can be dry like wine. Gucker's program will go through the steps of mead making.

Recipes will be available so people who attend this class can make ginger ale and mead at home.

Gucker will also cover the basics of making wine and beer at home and several handouts will be available for attendees.

The cost for this program is $5.00 per person. For more information or to register, contact the University of Illinois Extension office in Vermilion County at 217.442.8615 or visit the office at 3164 N. Vermilion in Danville. You can also register online at Walk-ins are welcome.