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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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Serviceberry…Beautiful Trees with Tasty Fruit

Serviceberries are beautiful native trees with tasty edible fruit. Recently I picked several fruits to eat with cereal and freeze for smoothies. Usually, the birds beat me to the fruit, but this year my tree has such a large crop that I was able to share. Serviceberry ( Amelanchier sp.), also called Juneberry, are native here. I often see them growing along streams and rivers. T...

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strawberry

Grow Your Own Strawberries

Have you had fresh strawberries yet this year? They are great when eaten fresh from the garden, and it is easy to grow your own. If you don't grow them yet, consider planting some next spring, which is the best time to plant new strawberries. Strawberries can be grown in the ground or containers. There are three types of strawberries grown in Illinois: June bearing or spring bearing,eve...

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Visit a Public Garden this Summer

Public gardens are a great place to get ideas for your garden. Last month I visited three gardens in Rockford with Bradley University's OLLI program. I am inspired to add more plants to our water garden and create more succulent container gardens. Here are a few ideas of places you might consider visiting this summer. Some of my favorite garden locations are the Chicago Botanic Gardens,...

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Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum Pictum)

Ferns add texture to a shade garden

I love ferns. Ferns make areas greener and provide interesting texture. Let's look at a few that are commonly grown in home shade gardens. Hardy, outdoor ferns are easy to grow and are essential in the woodland garden. Ferns come in all shapes and sizes, but most require similar growing conditions. Nearly all ferns do best in dappled shade. Most ferns require a soil rich in organic matt...

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tomato grown in a container
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Alternative Vegetable Gardens

Most people grow vegetables in traditional gardens in rows. Large gardens can seem overwhelming, especially during the heat of summer or after a vacation. If you don't have space for that or just want to try something different, here are some others options to try. A larger garden is needed for certain crops such as sweet corn. Still, you do not have to plant the garden in a traditional...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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A Tale of Two Honeysuckle Vines

Vines add vertical beauty to a garden. Fast growing honeysuckle vines are easy to grow. Their intoxicatingly wonderful floral fragrance attracts hummingbirds, bees, and hummingbird moths. The story of these two honeysuckle vines is a lesson in using native plants. The Japanese honeysuckle ( Lonicera japonica ) was brought here from East Asia because of its fragrant and beautiful...

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Dutchmans breeches and squirrel corn

Early Spring Wildflowers

I love exploring woods in the spring looking for wildflowers. They bring such joy after such a long winter. Here are a few of my favorite early spring wildflowers. One of the first woodland flowers to bloom is bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis ). Bloodroot has a solitary white flower, with a golden-orange center that grows beside a lobed leaf. Roots and stems have a red-orange j...

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