1. Published

    Amid all the pollinator conservation efforts in recent years, many gardeners have transitioned areas of lawn and other uses to vibrant pollinator gardens.  As homeowners search for new spaces to install pollinator habitat, many have questions about how and where to place these important oases of floral resources in the landscape.

  2. Published

    The root collar of a tree can be defined as an area of the lower trunk that transitions from trunk tissue to root tissue.  It is typically associated with the basal flare, or the trunk flare of the tree, which is the wider portion of trunk that insects the ground.  In recent years, arborists have spent considerable focus on the root collar, identifying a number of common disorders that can lead to declines in tree health or mortality.

  3. Published

    Last month, the US Forest Service released a technical report titled, “Climate Adaptation Actions for Urban Forests and Human Health.”   The report includes a summation of the current research related to urban trees and climate change, looking at how trees benefit human health, how climate change is impacting urban trees and how we can help our urban forests adapt.

  4. Published

    Many gardeners are starting to integrate more and more milkweed into their landscaping in support of monarch butterflies.  Plants in the milkweed genius (Asclepius) are the exclusive food source for monarch caterpillars, making them incredibly important in the race to sustain imperiled monarch populations across our continent. 

  5. Published

    In the heat of July, it seems out of place to consider fall frost, but it is an important detail for vegetable gardeners planning a fall garden.  There are a variety of garden crops that can be planted in July and August for fall production, many of which are cool-season crops that actually perform better as temperatures drop in the late growing season.  However, planning now is required to ensure plants have adequate time to reach maturity prior to the season-ending frosts that are inevitable. 

  6. Published

    Landscaping is typically designed to provide functional beauty to our yards and community spaces by brightening up the build environment with plant life.  While beauty can lie in the form of interesting foliage, brilliant fall color, or unique growth habit, flowers are always the showstoppers of the growing season.  In fact, many gardeners plan their entire landscape based on flowering displays. 

  7. Published

    Although rainfall has been significant so far this summer, newly planted trees and shrubs need watering as daily high temperatures creep up and rain dwindles during the drier part of our summer. 

    The next few months can be critical for woody plants struggling to become established in their new planting location and the water we provide can really make the difference.

  8. Published

    It is always interesting to observe plant diseases and try to unravel the mystery of how a particular plant became infected and to look toward solutions.  So many of these ailments have an incredibly fascinating path to infection, often including multiple species when you consider the pathogen, host and potential vector species. 

  9. Published

    This week, June 21-27, 2021, is National Pollinator’s Week, which is a time set aside by congress to honor and appreciate the amazing process of pollination. Governors in all 50 states have also acknowledged this special week by making their own proclamations to recognize pollinators in their respective states.

  10. Published

    The plant world is filled with amazing feats of both helpful and harmful attributes when you consider all the ways that humans interact with our floral friends. Everything from disease treatments or cures, to irritating rashes and seasonal allergies, or even highly toxic compounds all come from plants. 

  11. Published

    The ornamental value of landscape trees can be weighed by a variety of attributes, from interesting bark in the wintertime or colorful blooms in spring to the character of leaves that persists during the growing season.  However, the foliage that embellishes branches to create a summertime canopy of beauty is often lost in the sea of green chlorophyll that fills the plant world during the growing season.  I have always been interested in landscape trees with unique or interesting foliage that can provide a different splash of foliar color in summer.

  12. Published

    Soil microorganisms are an integral part of all ecosystems worldwide, but they often go unnoticed.  These tiny pillars of the soil environment perform a variety of incredibly important ecosystem functions, such as carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling.  In addition, they also help to build more resilient soils, remove soil contaminants and can help to regulate some disease and pest populations.

  13. Published

    This past Saturday, we celebrated 15 new graduates of our Master Naturalist Training.  The graduation day festivities included group presentations to showcase outreach projects they worked together to develop over the past few months. There were some very well-developed projects presented, and all did a great job of relating science and nature to their target audience.

  14. Published

    Herbs are a wonderful garden addition that provide easily accessible, fresh herbs for culinary use. However, I find that herbs are too often overlooked in most garden plans and can really provide a ton of ornamental and ecological benefits as well. 

  15. Published

    Over the next few weeks, some of central Illinois will experience a rare phenomenon that only occurs every other decade.  As soil temperatures warm, millions of insects will emerge from the ground in forests, city parks, yards and gardens.  They will carefully navigate the terrain and scale a close by, large object (such as a tree trunk) to shed their nymphal skin and enter the world as adult cicadas. 

  16. Published

    Spring is a time of abundant blooms as well as one of the best times of year to establish new woody plants in your landscape.  This year, consider adding one, or all, of my favorite Illinois native spring-flowering trees to your landscape, and you’ll enjoy spring floral displays for years to come.  My top four spring flowering trees are all relatively small in size, making them an easy fit for most planting locations, and all provide unparalleled spring flowers while supporting native insect populations.

  17. Published

    The ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea has been a mainstay of the ornamental shrub world since its release in the 1960’s.  This showy shrub is filled with beautiful snowball-like flowers that adorn its spindly branches each summer.  The blooms begin as pretty green puffs that turn white at maturity, often lasting 6-8 weeks throughout June and July, and gradually changing to a tan color to provide interest throughout fall and winter.   

  18. Published

    Every spring, the awakening plant world has those hard-to-miss harbingers which alert us that winter is over and help to welcome spring.  In native plant communities, I think of spring ephemeral wildflowers as the primary signal and watch intently for their blooms each year.  However, in the built environment, there are other, nonnative plants that signal spring with their unmistakable displays.  While tulips and daffodils are probably a few of the most recognized ornamental plants in the early spring landscape, there is one shrub that has always been the beacon o

  19. Published
  20. Published

    Hydrangeas are one of the most popular landscape shrubs in the US.  They are known for their exquisite flowering display, with many offering a season of beautiful blooms that remain attractive into winter.  Beyond flowers, these amazing shrubs offer additional ornamental beauty from neat and interesting leaves to ornate, peeling bark, making them quite versatile in the landscape.

    Each year, we receive quite a few questions about hydrangea care, with the most common question being, “Why isn’t my hydrangea flowering?”