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Connecting to Our Food Web

Dedicated to educational resources towards building and sustaining viable food webs and ecosystems
Landscapes (Trees, Shrubs and Flowers)
Great Blue Lobelia - Lobelia siphilitica
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Welcome to My Jungle -- September, 2018

Late summer flowering perennials may be less common but they are still an important addition to any garden, both for adding color in an otherwise drab time of year, and possibly as valuable pollen/nectar sources for visiting insects and birds. Great Blue Lobelia ( Lobelia siphilitica ) is native throughout much of Illinois and is happiest in a uniformly moist soi...

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 Pounds  Pecan
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Welcome to My Jungle - August 2018

It is amazing how just putting the emphasis on a different syllable can almost turn a normal common word to you into a foreign language…just try saying "em-PHAS-is on a different sill-LAB-ill" to see what I mean. Case in point, I just attended a fruit and nut conference that had attendees from across North America. In a setting like this, you quickly realize that some fun can be had just learni...

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My Jungle Early Spring
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Welcome to My Jungle - July 2018

What a difference the heat of late spring and early summer has on my jungle. I like a changing garden. Gone are all remnants of spring flowering plants; replaced with summer blooms, the likes of shasta daisy, bottlebrush buckeye, monarda, skullcap, oakleaf hydrangea and daylily. Everything has filled in and the entire garden has taken on the feel of secret, enclosed spaces. Gardens like...

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Douro Valley
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Welcome to My Jungle - June, 2018

Portugal is a beautiful country and I wish everyone the opportunity to visit as I did just recently. Portugal is famous for many products but probably port wine come to mind first. Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is hard to grasp the human effort over the eons that have gone into building rock walled ter...

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Welcome to My Jungle - May, 2018

With some plants gardeners are quite happy to see spread around in the garden, while others not so much. Maybe the "not so much" plants aren't as coveted, not as showy or maybe they spread a bit more than considered polite. But are the negatives overshadowing the potential benefits for some of these plants? Take our native violets for example. Many gardeners view our state flower as an aggressi...

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2018 MOBOT Wattle Fence
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Welcome to My Jungle - April 2018

Wattle is not only beautiful but also a great use of repurposed pruning materials. Even if you are unfamiliar with the term "wattle," you most likely have seen examples of fences and other structures made by weaving thin branches ("weavers") between upright stakes ("sales") to form a woven lattice. Check out the Kemper Center vegetable garden at Missouri Botanical Garden where staff are buildin...

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Transplants Lactuca sativa cv Tropicana - Standard Heat-tolerant Green Leaf Lettuce IMG 3168

Welcome to My Jungle - March 2018

Signs of spring are everywhere, but the "peep, peep, peep" of the spring peepers ( Pseudacris crucifer ) is what truly heralds its coming. These quarter-sized frogs are members in the Anura order of amphibians comprising the frogs, toads, and tree frogs, all of which lack a tail in the adult stage and have long hind limbs often suited to leaping and swimming. Spring peepers come...

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Welcome to My Jungle - January 2018

You know, one of the inherent problems with hanging out with other plant fanatics is that they tend to suck you further into your own fascination with and addiction to plants. Case in point, I was recently enjoying a night out with colleagues when one fellow plant enthusiast mentioned she was planning a workshop on marimo moss balls ( Aegagropila linnaei ). My ears perked right up. Marim...

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Dec17 WTMJ
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Welcome to My Jungle - December 2017

The medlar ( Mespilus germanica ) project was a success. I had enough bletted (very ripe but not rotted) fruit from one tree to make a small batch of jelly and try a new dessert bar recipe featuring medlars and walnuts. Having never tasted medlars before, I was worried I would hate the taste and had wasted my time, but I really enjoyed the unique, stewed-apple-like flavor created in both...

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21Aug2017 Eclipse Clifftop IMG 8771
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Welcome to My Jungle - September 2017

A personal thank you to the staff and volunteers of Clifftop. I could not have asked for a more beautiful site to view the solar eclipse with my family and friends on Monday, August 21 st . A 360° sunset is a site I will never forget. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into making this such a special day for so many. As quoted on Clifftop's Facebook page "It was a long, hot...

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Penstemon tubaeflorus - Tube Beardtongue IMG 5570

Welcome to My Jungle - June 2017

June begins the season of green, when the trees and shrubs are fully leaved and spring blooms have faded. My Jungle is primarily an iris garden, but it would be boring right now if made up of only green swords of foliage. Not to worry though, numerous late spring and early-summer blooming plants pick up the color standard so the Jungle does not suffer summer blahs. One of my favorites is trumpe...

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Welcome to My Jungle - May 2017

Birds are arriving from their winter home to add their beauty and song to my landscape. I hope that I have created a suitable environment for them to complete a successful breeding season. A ruby throated hummingbird alerted me to his presence very recently, so I dropped everything to put out feeders. He seemed rather pleased. I have also sighted two pairs of rose-breasted grosbeak, indigo bunt...

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Welcome to My Jungle - April 2017

Sticker shock, but definitely worth it! Some plants like lady slippers, a.k.a. hardy terrestrial orchids, can be relatively pricy in the world of herbaceous perennials (think ITOH and herbaceous yellow peony prices), and when combined with some very exacting growing conditions, most gardeners aren't willing to risk the added investment. This is definitely a species to research thoroughly before ca...

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Cherry Rootstocks Gisela5 Mahalab Seedling

Welcome To My Jungle - March 2017

Dwarfing rootstocks have always fascinated me, and the sweet cherry trees in my jungle really demonstrate their useful versatility. I have three sweet cherry trees and they are all similar in age, but they are all on different rootstocks, making them extremely different in size. My largest sweet cherry tree grew from a cherry pit a friend of mine had chucked into his garden, resulting in a stan...

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065 Pieris japonica cv Shojo - Japanese Pieris

Welcome to My Jungle-February 2017

Winter is still with us but a number of winter interest plants are already brightening an otherwise sleeping garden. Winter blooming plants like witch hazel ( Hamamelis ), hellebore ( Helleborus ), mahonia ( Mahonia ), Japanese pieris ( Pieris ), and paperbush ( Edgeworthia ) are especially good at harking the coming of spring. If you are unfamiliar wi...

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BB lesions 03 watermark
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Boxwood blight confirmed in Illinois

URBANA, Ill. - Boxwood blight, a serious fungal disease, has been confirmed in Illinois. According to a University Diagnostic Outreach Extension Specialist, two boxwood samples were submitted to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic in late 2016. The samples came from Lake and Cook Counties in northeastern Illinois. Both were from recent landscape additions. "Although the characterist...

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Helleborus - Hellebore P1010117

Welcome to My Jungle - December, 2015

Growing giant vegetables usually takes some extra effort, but sometimes Mother Nature provides just the right conditions for some crops to exceed normal growth expectations. Take turnips for example. Normally, turnip are harvested as they reach the size of a tennis ball or slightly larger up until soil freezing. This ensures reaching peak flavor and maintaining a smooth internal texture. Like m...

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