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Tales from a Plant Addict

Fun (& a few serious) facts, tips and tricks for every gardener, new and old.

Ptilotus exaltatus 'Joey'

A big part of my job description with University of Illinois Extension is answering homeowner questions and giving advice about home gardens. One of the big plusses about advice from U of I Extension is that we are not trying to sell you anything-- we are just trying to give you the best research-based answer to your question. Lots of people call with questions on landscape design. We...

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Fanfare Spreading Impatiens

My husband jokes about our yard being a "horticultural experiment station". He's correct to some extent. A Master Gardener shared with me a piece of advice that sums up why my yard is a big horticulture experiment-- to really know a plant, you have to grow it. When shopping for garden plants each year, there are always a few new plants that catch my eye because either they...

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Paperbark Maple-- Acer griseum

Plant lovers will not think it strange when I say that when I first saw a paperbark maple, it was love at first sight. My first encounter with the paperbark maple was in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Like some cheesy romance novel, I saw this particular tree near Bevier Hall a f...

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Ben Franklin Tree-- Franklinia alatamaha

Last year my husband was watching a gardening show on TV, and saw a tree that he immediately wanted for our yard-- Franklinia alatamaha , the Ben Franklin Tree. It has become a bit of an obsession for my husband this spring, trying to find a source for a tree bigger than a seedling. We asked about the tree at a local nursery recently, and their staff agreed it was a great tree,...

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Heuchera-- Coral Bells

With some plants in my garden, I am content to have one or two cultivars. But for some plants, I have to fight the urge to collect every different cultivar I can find. This only seems to happen with plants that are small enough that I can fit several into my landscape without attracting too much attention from my husband, who likes to moan, "More plants?? Why?" I discovered...

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