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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Cardinal climber on 9-17-12
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Annual Climbing Plants

Climbing plants are gaining in popularity in the garden. In this article, Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, focuses on climbing plants that are annuals – growing only one season in the garden. Ferree says, "Don't be tricked by their short life". "Annual climbers reach great heights in just one summer and usually produce outstanding blossom displ...

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Cool Wave%u222 Violet Wing pansy, April 2013


As I write this column it is spitting snow outside my window and I'm getting ready to help a friend sandbag her home near the Illinois River. Among all this doom and gloom I saw a glimmer of hope this morning as I left for work. One of the pansies I planted last fall is blooming! Last fall I planted two types of pansies along my back entrance walkway. Four plants were f...

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Planting Trees

Arbor Day in Illinois is always celebrated on the last Friday in April – this year being April 26th. If you decide to plant a tree to celebrate Arbor Day, before grabbing the spade and digging a hole, Richard Hentchel, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, provides some tips to assure your tree will live well into the future. Retail Nurseries and Garden Cente...

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New Plants for 2013

I was privileged to give the keynote address at this year's Gardeners' Big Day. It truly was a big day with almost 150 attendees, vendors, speakers, and more. The event gets better every year thanks to the leadership of Julia Pryor, Master Gardener coordinator, and all the wonderful Fulton County Master Gardeners. My keynote address covered the top new plants for 2013....

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Spring brings fresh, new rhubarb stalks perfect for eating. Rhubarb, also known as the pie plant, is a very hardy perennial garden vegetable that grows extremely well here. Although considered a vegetable, rhubarb is used as a fruit in pies, tarts, cakes, and sauces. Rhubarb is available in either red or green stalk varieties. A popular green stalk one is Victor...

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Lilac in bloom
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Spring Cleanup

This week's warmer temperatures have me anxious to do spring garden cleanup activities. This year I hope to do a really thorough spring cleanup in a couple areas of the yard. They look really great and are ready for a great season of growing! Spring cleanup involves many activities including raking, pruning, fertilizing, and more. To prepare for cleanup debris, a good first activity is...

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Organic weed control: Corn meal gluten

Kelly Allsup, a horticulture educator at University of Illinois Extension, said that using organic weed control in lawns may not be as difficult as one might think. Iowa State scientist Nick Christians recently gave a presentation at the 2012 IPM Symposium in Memphis, Tenn., about the use of corn meal gluten (CMG) as an organic weed preventer/nitrogen feeder. Corn meal gluten is an industrial...

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Water Saving Tips for landscapes and lawns

When I teach the Master Gardener turfgrass classes, we discuss lawn watering in detail. If you decide to water your lawn to keep it from going into summer dormancy, be sure to water thoroughly and infrequently. One inch a week will keep grass actively growing. Consider the following points as well when watering grass: Do not mow turf too short: 2-3" Do not supply exces...

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