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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Sassafras leaves
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Fall Festival and Drive Scavenger Hunt

Fall weather is perfect for festivals and country drives. They are also a time to focus on fall colors and nature's beauty, says Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension. "During these drives, take the opportunity to embrace what we too often take for granted." To help you do this, take Rhonda's little scavenger hunt and look for the fo...

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Fall Horticulture Programs

Want to learn more about plants? We have several horticultural training sessions scheduled for this fall. The fall series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program, which focuses on environmental stewardship and backyard food production, is underway. The next session titled, Winter Wise Your Landscape: Knowledge to Prevent Costly Mistakes , is offered...

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Why Are Some Trees Changing Color Already?

Have you noticed many plants already starting to turn fall colors? According to Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, early fall color almost always means that trees are exhibiting symptoms of stress. Ferree says this is likely due to last summer's severe drought. "The trees probably had enough reserves to make it this far since we...

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SunPatiens - Impatiens for sunny locations

This year my Dad (Ron Simmons) started some SunPatiens for me in his greenhouse. I was skeptical that an impatiens would really grow in the sun, but to my delight and surprise, they look amazing! Impatiens are the most popular bedding plant for shady locations. There are two main types of impatiens available: balsam and New Guinea. The balsam type ( Impatiens wallerana ) is the b...

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Alert on new pest of fruits – Spotted Wing Drosophila

Everyone growing blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries should be monitoring for spotted wing Drosophila, a new invasive pest that infests thin-skinned fruits as they ripen. University of Illinois Extension Entomology Dr. Rick Weinzierl says, "This invasive insect is known to be present in much of Illinois and will damage these crops severely, making the fruits unmarketable." On June 28...

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Dr. Elizabeth Wahle shows horseradish plant to fellow University of Illinois Extension Agriculture Educators
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Horseradish in the Garden

My Grandpa Simmons always had horseradish growing along a fence row. After his death we moved to his property and my dad continued the horseradish tradition. I really like the taste of horseradish. Horseradish is a true perennial in the garden along with rhubarb and asparagus, but commercial growers produce it as an annual. According to Tony Bratsch, former horticulture educator with Un...

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Poison Ivy
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Leaves of Three, Let It Be

Are your summer outings followed by days of itching discomfort? "Knowing more about poison ivy and how it grows might help you avoid rash problems later," says Rhonda Ferree, extension educator in horticulture. "Remember the old adage, Leaves of Three, Let It Be!" Poison ivy grows in various locations and many different environmental conditions. It is in fencerows, under trees, and in o...

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Protect yourself against mosquito bites and West Nile virus

Several years ago I worked with the Fulton County Health Department to help fight West Nile virus. This summer my son Derek joined me in that fight by interning with the Health Department to do most of the county's mosquito testing work. Happily, to date the virus has not been found in Fulton County this year, but is has been reported in 25 other Illinois counties. No human cases of the virus h...

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There are many wive's tales and misconceptions about chiggers. Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator provides the following facts that might help your itch this summer. Chiggers are microscopic mites. That means that they are very tiny and have eight legs. They are also ectoparasites, which mean that they live on the outside of the host's body. Ch...

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Edible Flowers

Do you want to "spice" up your meals? Sometimes I'll add flowers to a dull looking salad to add color. Or, sometimes I just eat flowers right out in the garden. But one very important thing that you need to remember is that not every flower is edible. In fact, sampling some flowers can make you very, very sick. Make sure you know for sure the identity of the flower before eating it. You...

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