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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
cut flower arrangement

Preserving Flowers

As you plan your summer gardens, consider adding flowers you can preserve or use in arrangements. The pleasure of growing flowers in a garden is only a portion of gardening enjoyment. Flowers and foliage that is gathered from the garden and preserved or arranged can reward you in many other ways. Cutting gardens include flowers that cut well and are long-lasting. Sturdy stems and long-l...

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tree planting

Energy Efficiency and Trees by Duane Friend

Energy costs have hit everyone hard! Certainly, there are many tips for conserving energy costs from programmable thermostats to lighting tips. One big influence on home energy costs is the home landscape. External air temperature, solar radiation, wind movement, and humidity influence your home. Proper use and placement of plants and structures can help modify these factors and thus re...

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Preen Natural Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer is made with 100 percent corn gluten.

Organic weed control: Corn meal gluten

Recent social media posts suggest using household cornmeal to control garden weeds. Looks simple enough, but does it work? Cornmeal is simply ground corn that we use in cooking. It is an essential ingredient in cornbread and corn muffins. Although it might add some nutrients when sprinkled on the garden, it likely does not have any effect on weeds. Corn gluten meal (CGM), on the...

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Post Beetles

Winter's Impact on Insects and Plants

Unfortunately, the winter has taken a toll on many plants. Evergreens are especially impacted, many showing significant winter desiccation or even death. The severe cold winter compounded plant stresses already inflicted by recent severe droughts and other weather extremes. Not only did trees likely not have enough internal reserves going into winter, but they were also not able to take up more...

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Citizen scientists observe spring blooms by Alicia Hallal

URBANA, Ill. - Watching for the first blooms of spring has always been one of the most highly anticipated activities for nature and plant lovers. But keeping records of events in nature such as bloom time is a...

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Take a new look at dandelions

Earth Day falls every year on April 22. I find that Earth Day is a great time to reflect on our world around us. You might even try to look at a small piece of our world from a completely different viewpoint. Take dandelions, for example. To many people, the dandelion is a weedy pest that invades our lawns, but other people find many positive attributes in the plant. Kids love d...

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Grapes on 7-13-12

Backyard grapes for Illinois by Bruce Black

URBANA, Ill. – Grape vines are a beautiful feature for your landscape that provide both aesthetic and edible benefits, says a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "Fresh-picked-from-the-vine grapes...

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Garden Calendar 2018 photo

Gardening in April

Spring has sprung, and it is time to get out in the garden. The average last frost date for central Illinois is mid-April. Therefore I wait until about Mother's Day before planting tender plants such as impatiens, basil, tomatoes, and tropicals. Even though I can't plant most of the tender plants yet, there is still a lot to do. GENERAL Measure the rainfall with a rain ga...

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Community Garden Webinar Series New Available

There is a good amount of planning that needs to go into creating a successful community garden. To help people and organizations build and maintain productive community gardens University of Illinois Extension created the Community Garden Webinar Series. This series takes users through a variety of modules discussing the different steps that can be taken to develop a successful community garde...

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Homemade herbicide considerations

URBANA, Ill. – Recipes for homemade weed killers abound on the internet. University of Illinois Extension specialist Michelle Wiesbrook explains why homemade is not always better. "It's important to keep in mind that any...

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Planting black tupelo tree

Purchasing Trees and Shrubs

It's that time of year when trees and shrubs begin popping up at retail sales areas throughout Illinois. Here are some tips to consider as you plan your new woody plant purchases. The most important choice is what type of plant to buy. Consider many factors when making this choice, as it is critical. Consider shade versus sun, soil conditions, insect and disease resistance, seasonal fea...

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Post General

Four Seasons Gardening Program Offers Spring Series

The Spring series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program, which focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production, gets underway this month. The first session of the series is titled A Garden Calendar . Join extension horticulture educator, Ron Wolford, as he discusses month by month tips and tricks for the home gard...

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