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Green Speak

Horticulture topics from gardens to lawns and then some.
Trees

Photo of the Week - March 2, 2017

The winter has been unusually warm these past several weeks (even months). While it has been nice to go for walks in short-sleeves and even grill outside, I truly long for winter weather. Winter without snow is terribly bleak. Snow gives residents of the Midwest something visually stimulating in an otherwise dull, dormant landscape. Finally, we're seeing a bit of colder weather as we e...

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Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees

Growing up, a family tradition was going out to the Christmas tree farm to find that perfect tree. As a child it was fun going out to pick our tree, cut it and then watch it hauled to the barn on a sled, shook for all its worth to get the dead needles out, and finally bundled up on our car ready for home. My wife had an altogether different experience growing up. She would help her moth...

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Garden Update – Mid August 2015

What's going on in the garden this week? Here is a snapshot of observations and questions coming into the Extension office. Out in the Garden Here in Illinois the rains stopped early July and have been sparse ever since. Gardens have needed supplemental water. With the abundance and then lack of rain we've lots of soil cracking. With all that rain how could our...

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Flooded high tunnel.
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Garden Update – Mid July 2015

What's going on in the garden this week? Here is a snapshot of observations and questions coming into the Extension office. Out in the Garden The rains have ceased and the lawn and garden beds are drying out. It is almost the end of July and I have yet to water a single plant this season, even containers! Lawns can tolerate a significant amount of standing water...

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Beebalm with prolonged standing water issues.
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Garden Update - Start of July 2015

What's going on in the garden this week? Here is a snapshot of observations and questions coming into the Extension office. Out in the Garden Rot, rot, rot. With all this rain landscapes and gardens have been suffering from saturated root zones. Here's a comparison of beebalm in the same planting area, only one is located where we've seen several days of...

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Several inches of snow rest on the landscape after a January snowfall in 2014.
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The Resilient Landscape, Preparing Your Plants for Weather-Related Disasters Part 3: Winter Storms

Following is a continuation of my exploration on the aftermath and preparation of weather-related disasters on our landscape plants. You can find the articles on wind HERE and drought HERE . Frozen Stuff In the book Weatherproofing Your Landscape, authors S...

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The serpentine feeding galleries created in the plant tissue just beneath the bark. The feeding cuts off movement of water and nutrients, killing the ash tree. (Look closely you can see a little EAB larva in the bottom right)
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Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed for Warren County Illinois

The presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed for Warren County Illinois, with the initial finding coming from Kirkwood. EAB is a devastating exotic pest that attacks one of the most popular landscape trees in America, the ash tree. Unlike most native borers which only target dead or dying trees, EAB preys on healthy ash trees. However, the presence of EAB in Warren County...

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Using Landscape Chemicals Responsibly

This past summer, a homeowner called the local Extension office concerned about cicada killers. I immediately set about my normal talk describing the benefits of cicada killers and how they are not prone to sting humans. The homeowner graciously listened to my pitch and then said they understand, but they do not appreciate how the cicada killer makes their lawn surface so bumpy. I conceded thei...

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The Resilient Landscape, Preparing Your Plants for Weather-Related Disasters Part 2: Drought

Following is a continuation of my exploration on the aftermath and preparation of weather-related disasters on our landscape plants. You can find the first article on winds HERE. Drought In the book Weatherproofing Your Landscape, authors Sandra Dark and Dean Hill classify weather-related disasters as the 'Big Four' – wind, drought...

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This bald cypress tree is sited in a high wind area yet, is able to tolerate the heavy wind loads. You can tell the constant wind has caused the limbs on the downwind side to curl upward in their growth.

The Resilient Landscape, Preparing Your Plants for Weather-Related Disasters Part 1: Winds

Over the past few years it feels like we've earned the ire of Mother Nature. In Illinois we've experienced a severe drought in 2012 followed by another drought in 2013 along with the coldest winter in decades this past 2014. Plus, the tragic tornadoes that ripped through Central Illinois in November of 2013. It is heartbreaking to see the results of natural disasters, when it affects en...

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Another sweetgum tree hit by cold temperatures. This tree has nearly leafed out by the first week of June.
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Only the Hardiest Shall Survive!

What made it through this winter? I know many of us barely did, but now that spring has seemingly sprung into summer my concern turns to the landscape. Here in west central Illinois we live in USDA cold hardiness zone 5b, with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of -10 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this winter we saw temperatures dip below the -20 degree mark, granting us a zone...

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Tackle Your Winter Pruning and Winter Blues by Attending Gardener's Day

Pruning your trees and shrubs can be done almost any time of year, however, it is best to avoid making any pruning cuts while woody plants are preparing for dormancy in early fall. So the old adage to prune 'when the saw is sharp' is mostly true. When asked for the ideal time of year to prune, many Extension services recommend pruning while trees and shrubs are dormant. Dormant pruning is often...

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Extreme Cold and Your Plants

Being a fan of winter, this weather has been an absolute blast, but even I must admit- darn it's cold out there. One question I have been hearing a lot is "What about our plants?" Well, if you religiously adhere to the USDA cold hardiness zones then you should have nothing to fear. More than likely your trees, shrubs and perennials will emerge and leaf out to greet the spring. But who are we ki...

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Finding the Plant You Want Might Be Harder in the Near Future

As the pre-recession housing bubble swelled, landscape nursery production ramped up to meet an over-stimulated market. When that bubble burst, landscaping clients disappeared and nursery owners no longer had buyers for their plants. What ensued thereafter was a massive culling of nursery stock and the eventual loss of hundreds of landscape nursery companies. According to Nancy Buley, director o...

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Winter Dormancy in the Landscape - Gambit or Gamble

By late November, the last of the leaves float down to the ground and the landscape appears stark. All is quiet and nothing is growing as our gardens have been put to bed. Or are they? As I walk outside in the frigid cold, it is obvious my body has yet to adapt to colder temperatures, yet the turf stands green and crisp on a frosty morning. Evergreens brighten up a barren image of my yard. Even...

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DSC 0912
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Enjoying the Last Hurrahs of a Staple Landscape Tree

In mid-October I walked around marveling at the outstanding color of one of our earliest tree to exhibit great fall color, the ash ( Fraxinus spp. ) And I realized, for many homeowners this might be the last time they can enjoy the spectacular fall display of an ash tree. What I am referring to is the loss of our native ash trees to the emerald ash borer (EAB). For some, this pos...

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