The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Enjoying Your Garden

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

I usually talk about all the things happening in the garden such as the periodical cicada egg laying damage showing up now. As Phil Nixon reported in the U of I Home, Yard and Garden Pest newsletter, the damage appears as six to ten leaves on the end of a tree or shrub branch turn brown. The dieback is due to the slits in the twig made by the female cicada as she inserts eggs into the branch. Any tree or shrub may be attacked, but oaks seem to be a preference. On large trees the damage is minor, but on small trees with less than two inch diameter the trees may be killed or deformed.

Unfortunately not much can be done once damage appears. The inserted eggs will hatch within a few weeks and drop to the ground where they will feed on roots until the year 2011 when they will emerge from the soil to become adults. Say goodbye to this brood of cicadas. See you (or hear you) in 13 years.

Here is your garden chore for this week–relax and enjoy your garden. Find that spot of the garden that looks great, even if it's just a square foot plot. For one moment enjoy the delicate arching beauty of foxtail or the bright green leaves of creeping Charlie. You can always disintegrate them later, but for now don't think about the things that should be accomplished.

I think everyone should spend more time sipping tea in their gardens. Garden benches aren't just ornaments. Gardeners never spend enough time just viewing their gardens. Maybe that's why garden walks are so popular. We have permission to look and appreciate other people's gardens and not be burdened by the knowledge of plants that didn't survive, the projects that didn't get finished or the plants the rabbits ate.

Thanks to all the Master Gardeners and garden owners that made the Champaign County Master Gardener's Garden Walk so successful. All the gardens were beautiful and each reflected the gardener's personality. Make your garden yours. If you like hot pink petunias with bright orange marigolds, then go for it.

Citrus Mint Tea Cooler

  • 3 regular size tea bags
  • 4 to 6 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed lemon slices for garnish

Place tea bags and mint in 2-quart pitcher. Add the 2 cups boiling water; cover and steep for five minutes. Discard tea bags and mint. Add cold water, sugar, grapefruit and lemon juice; stir to dissolve sugar. Chill. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slices. Makes 1-1/2 quarts.

Tennessee Fruit Tea
(Especially refreshing after gardening all day)

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons unsweetened instant tea
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 12 ounce can frozen lemonade
  • 1 12 ounce can frozen pineapple orange juice.

Stir together tea, water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then let cool. In a gallon container mix lemonade and pineapple orange juice. Add these to the tea mixture along with enough water to make one gallon. Refrigerate. Serve over ice.

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