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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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Gifts for the Gardener

Are you searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family? Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, provides the following some ideas that might prove helpful. Gardeners always love gift plants and flowers. Since gardeners tend to be choosy about the type of plants they grow, get them a gift certificate to their favorite nursery. Or, give...

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Strawberry Slumber

If you grow strawberries, you may be wondering when to cover them for the winter. Recently retired University of Illinois Extension Local Foods and Small Farms Educator Mike Roegge provides the following tips. Straw is traditionally applied to strawberries when they have gone dormant. You don't want to cover them too soon as you can smother the plant. We've had a couple of days of 20-de...

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Sweet potatoes with black plastic mulch

Sweet Potato or Yam?

As the holiday season approaches, it seems appropriate to discuss the issue of sweet potatoes versus yams. Officially a sweet potato is never a yam, but sweet potatoes are often sometimes referred to as yams. Sweet potatoes ( Ipomoea batatas ) are yellow or orange tubers that elongate into ends that taper to a point. There are two types of sweet potatoes, which creates the confus...

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Gardening Tool Gift Ideas

Are you searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family? As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, here are some tools and gadgets that every gardener needs. Gardening is therapeutic, but it can also be hard work. Proper tools help get a garden job done safely, efficiently, and maybe even faster. Always choose the right tool for the job. Shovels are used for digg...

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Paperwhite Narcissus

Paperwhites are routinely sold in stores during holidays. Many bulbs are easy to grow indoors for seasonal display and beauty. Common examples are Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus. Of all the types of narcissus, the paperwhite narcissus is the one most commonly sold for forcing indoors. This is because it doesn't need an extended cold treatment to induce flowers. Boxed bulb ki...

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White tailed deer
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Fall and Winter Deer Damage

Deer hunting season is upon us, and so it seems appropriate to do an article about deer damage to landscape plants. Fall and winter are a time when deer can cause significant damage to landscape plants. Two types of damage can occur: antler rubbing and browsing. Antler rubbing is done by males during the mating season. They do this in the fall to remove the soft velvet covering and to s...

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firewood website

Firewood website helps buyers avoid troubles by the truckload

You see the ads in the newspaper, along roadsides and just about everywhere else at this time of year: FIREWOOD FOR SALE. Knowing where your firewood comes from can keep you from making some costly mistakes, according to Duane Friend, a University of Illinois Extension Educator in environmental and energy stewardship. Friend is the co-author of University of Illinois Extension's new "Fi...

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Beautyberry (Callicarpa sp.)
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The Beautiful Beautyberry

Recently, I've had several people send me pictures asking, "What is this beautiful plant with purple berries?" My answer each time was beautyberry. The beautyberry (Callicarpa sp.) has show-stopping purple fruit in the fall. In fact, the genus name Callicarpa means beautiful fruit in Greek. These deciduous shrubs produce bright, glossy clusters of violet-purple fruit that encirc...

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