1. Published

    Flowers are a great way to communicate your love and affection. Over the years, flowers have developed meaning and are known as a way to convey a special message.

  2. Published

    This year I am planting a dwarf, determinate tomato in my herb garden. It will take less space and produce as much fruit as I need. And, this makes more room for herbs!

  3. Published

    I enjoy shopping for plants each spring. In addition to our usual local spots, my husband and I like to visit new garden centers each year. This year's garden shopping trek included Jacksonville, Springfield, Champaign, Danville, and Ottawa. At each location, I pay particular attention to new plants and garden trends. This year's trends were obviously fairies, succulents, and butterflies.

  4. Published

    On a recent trip to visit my son Derek in Monterey, California, we hiked among the giant redwood trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It was a rainy day, which enhanced the overall experience. It also brought out a banana slug for us to see. Apparently everything there is giant because this slug was almost 10 inches long and bright yellow.

  5. Published
    Earth Day falls every year on April 22. As you use this day to reflect about our world around us, you might  try to look at a small piece of our world from a completely different viewpoint.
  6. Published

    Arbor Day and Earth Day happen each April. This year Arbor day is April 28 and Earth Day is April 22. Both offer an opportunity for us to step back and enjoy our natural world.

  7. Published
    I love rhubarb! Also known as the pie plant, rhubarb is a very hardy perennial garden vegetable that grows extremely well here. Although considered a vegetable, rhubarb is used as a fruit in pies, tarts, cakes, and sauces.

    Rhubarb is available in either red or green stalk varieties. A popular green stalk one is Victoria. More is available in red including Canada Red with long, thick, extra sweet stalks, Cherry Red with red in and out, Crimson Red that is tall and plump, and MacDonald with tender skin and brilliant red color.

  8. Published

    Our abnormal spring temperatures have many folks antsy to begin gardening, but remember that we could still get freezing temperatures. How early you can plant depends upon the hardiness of the vegetables and the date of our last spring frost. Our average frost-free date is April 22 with the actual frost-free date varies 2 weeks or more in either direction.

  9. Published

    The spring series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production.

    The first session of the series is titled, Growing Vegetables for Beginners. The program is offered twice – on April 18 at 1:30 p.m. and again on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. Produce always taste better when you are enjoying the fruits of your labor. Join Jennifer Fishburn, Horticulture Educator, as she shares tips for successfully growing vegetables in a small space.

  10. Published

    Each year I am more distressed by the number of volunteer ornamental pear trees I see growing in fields, roadsides, and other places where they shouldn't be. This is yet another example of a plant that has escaped cultivation and become invasive. Below is an article written by my colleague Jason Haupt, Extension Educator in Energy and Environmental Stewardship.

  11. Published

    Sandra Mason
    State Master Gardener Coordinator

  12. Published

    We get lots of questions each year about abnormal growths on oak and other trees. These abnormal growths, called galls, can be very disturbing to the people whose plants are affected. Fortunately, most galls affect only the appearance of the trees and are not detrimental to plant health.

  13. Published
    Originally published in No. 2/April 25, 2016 of the University of Illinois Extension's Home, Yard & Garden Pest Newsletter

    It's been a great spring for the color purple. The redbud trees are in full bloom and looking glorious in the central part of the state now. But for several weeks, the ground has been purple as well due to a few cool season weeds that seem to be enjoying the moderate temperatures we've been having.

  14. Published
    I have been enjoying walks through our little woods. Many of the earliest wildflowers are about to perform their annual spectacular show. Woodland wildflowers are beautiful and a welcome sign of spring. Here are some examples of the earliest flowers to bloom in the woods.

    A common woodland wildflower is the spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). This is a low plant with loose clusters of pink or whitish flowers, striped with dark pink. The flowers are ½ - ¾ inch wide with five petals. Leaves are long, linear and grass-like.

  15. Published

    The odd weather patterns over the past few years have played havoc on my lawn. As a result, I now have out-of-control crabgrass in areas of my front yard.

  16. Published

    Analytic data from my ILRiverHort Facebook Page shows significant increases since it began in 2011.

    The number of people following the Page increased steadily, with a slight bump up in 2013. Currently the Page has 636 followers.

  17. Published

    March 19 – 25 is National Horticultural Therapy Week. Its purpose is "to encourage others to help expand and elevate horticultural therapy as a profession."

    People who interact with plants are healthier. Thus, using plants in therapy to help improve a person's body, mind and spirit just make good sense.

  18. Published

    Have you ever seen a garden that just took your breath away? You visit two months later, and the garden is again in full glory, and you wonder how do people do it? How do you design a garden that offers visual interest through the seasons? Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, highlights University of Illinois Extension resources that will help you create your very own eye-stopping flowerbed.

  19. Published

    Several years ago I created a secret shade garden behind my backyard gazebo. What started as a few trees, shrubs, and a bench, has grown to a dense garden of various dry-loving, shade plants. Since I garden in the dry sand of Mason county, typical moisture-loving shade plants like hosta, fern, and azalea don't do well. Instead, here are some plants that work for me.

  20. Published

    Now is a great time to remove invasive bush honeysuckle. Not only are bush honeysuckle invasive to native woodlands, new research shows that they also can increase the spread of tick-borne diseases.

    Bush honeysuckle are upright shrubs that grow 6 to 15 feet tall. Their dense growth habit is a favorite of deer and other small critters that ticks feed on. A University of Wisconsin study found five times more deer in honeysuckle-invaded areas, and 10 times more ticks infected with a human disease bacteria.