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Tales from a Plant Addict

Fun (& a few serious) facts, tips and tricks for every gardener, new and old.
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Mistletoe Part 2-- The Legends

There are lots of legends told about mistletoe, but the familiar association with Christmas has its roots in Europe. The ancient Druids used a golden sickle to cut mistletoe from their most-revered tree, the oak as part of ceremonies celebrating fertility that included human sacrifice. Looking to the Druids for a direct link to kissing your sweetie at Christmas seems a bit of a challenge....

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Mistletoe Part 1-- The Parasitic Plant

We may associate mistletoe with kisses during the holiday season, but mistletoe is a bully in the plant world. OK, technically it is a parasite. But practically speaking it is like a schoolyard bully looking for a victim to steal lunch money from. There is a lot more to mistletoe than I ever thought. Honestly, my experience with mistletoe is limited to the artificially-colored preserved...

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Keeping Holiday Plants Healthy

As the Holidays approach, many of us will use a plant or two (or more) to decorate our homes. With a little extra attention, their beauty can last well past the Holidays. When selecting plants for purchase, pay attention to where the plants are displayed in the store. Warm or cold drafts can harm many holiday plants—it's not unusual to find displa...

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"Bonsai" trees appear in all sorts of stores as we near the Holidays. You may find them at a garden center, you may find them at the local big-box store or discount club. I was fascinated by bonsai the first time I saw some for sale at a local nursery in high school. They were as cute as could be—perfect trees in miniature. I surrendered $15 of my hard earned babysitting money and took...

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Sage (Salvia)

The holidays would not be the same without sage. Many people use the herb sage, Salvia officinalis as a seasoning for poultry, a common dish on holiday tables. But there is a lot more to sage than the culinary herb. The name sage encompasses a large group of ornamental and medicinal plants in the mint family. There are three different genera all considered to be types of sages:...

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Black Walnut

Plants have evolved some pretty interesting ways of insuring their own existence in the world. One tactic that fascinates me is allelopathy, which means that one plant harms another with chemicals it produces. A common example, and one that plagues homeowners is the black walnut, Juglans nigra , a tree native to eastern North America, including Illinois. All parts of black walnu...

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