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    I typically write about landscape improvements, however, Illinois Extension has been getting a number of calls regarding vegetable gardening in straw bales. So, I decide to write a special edition on the basics of straw bale gardening.

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    Spring has sprung and I am back! I was on leave for quite some time but, I am happy to be back and blogging again.

    Looks like it is time to prune my roses. In my area of northeastern Illinois the forsythia are in bloom so, it must be time to prune the roses. Many gardeners use this as a sign to remind them to prune roses. Late winter early spring is generally a great time to prune roses and many other woody plants. It is warm enough to avoid winter injury yet still cool enough to minimize the spread of insects and disease.

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    Please stay tuned.  I will be on parental leave until further notice.  Please look for more post this winter.
    Thank you for your patience,
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    There are a number of plants to be cautious of while working in your landscape. Learn more from the South Town Star article in which I was quoted by clicking here.

    Click here for a more extensive list of plants that cause skin irritations.

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    Late spring to early summer is a good time to incorporate perennials into the garden. As you contemplate plant selection, why not consider butterfly weed, named the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year™ by the Perennial Plant Association. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a well-behaved, easy-care plant native to Illinois. It is common in most regions of the state, except in some western areas. It also goes by the name of butterfly milkweed, but people tend to call it butterfly weed because it lacks the white sap of other milkweed species.

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    Spring will be arriving soon, and with the new season comes brand new foliage followed by a burst of flowers. Gardeners poking around the yard may discover plants emerging here and there.

    Some of the earliest of these plants are native spring ephemerals. Ephemerals, or short-lived plants, are often misunderstood and I refer to them as the mystery plants of the Eastern U.S. deciduous forest. That is because they seem to emerge suddenly and vanish almost as quickly as they came.

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    West Cook Wild Ones Presents:

    The Naturally Beautiful Garden Conference 2017

    Saturday, February 11, 2017 from 12:00 PM – 5:30 PM

    Triton College Performing Arts Center, River Grove, IL. 60171.

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    Extension is hosting an upcoming workshop that may interest you. First Detector workshops bring awareness to pests and diseases that are invading our region. Space is limited, so be sure to register soon. If the south suburban (Orland Park) session is full, please contact me to learn about other regional workshops. The details are posted below.

    First Detector Workshop

    February 15, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Orland Park Cultural Arts Center, 14760 Park Lane, Orland Park, IL 60462 in the Exhibit Hall.

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    As your plants may be looking a little sad or dwindling down as temperatures cool, some of you may be wondering if you should fertilize these plants. When it comes to fertilizing trees and shrubs at this time, the answer is NO. Fertilizing woody plants (trees and shrubs) while they are still actively growing in late summer will result in a flush of growth that may not have time to harden off before the winter hits.

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    The garden season has been keeping me busy and I apologize for the lack of recent posts. I wanted to maintain contact with my readers, so, I am sharing a few links regarding rose care.

    Now is a good time to deadhead or remove those spent flowers on your roses. Deadheading basically tricks the plant into producing more flowers so the plant can ultimately produce fruit and seed. If you are unsure about how to prune or where to cut please refer to the link below.

    Deadheading Roses

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    One current garden trend is using colorful structures as backdrops, frames, or focal points. A structure can be as simple as a trellis or painted ladder or may be more complex, like a vertical garden.

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    Spring has sprung and the time for gardening preparation is here. If you are looking for an inexpensive and easy way to begin a new garden bed start saving your cardboard!

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    Proper pruning is a must when it comes to trees and shrubs. Not only will it improve aesthetics, it will improve the structure and longevity of your woody landscape plants. Now is the time to prune.

    Here are some steps to follow when pruning deciduous shrubs and trees:

    Reasons for pruning:

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    When the weather outside is frightful, I like to research new plant varieties that I can introduce to my garden in the spring or summer. While I was exploring, I discovered that 2016 marks the Year of the Begonia. Begonias are a favorite of mine and with good reason.

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    By now you may be getting tired of looking at your remaining spent plants or bare container gardens. Why not spruce them up for the winter with some greenery, twigs and other holiday decorations?

    When designing my home landscape, I considered planting evergreens and shrubs that I could cut for use in my winter container garden designs. Not only do these types of plants provide interesting winter landscape characteristics, they also help me save money when it comes to incorporating greenery and twigs into my winter designs.

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    Now is the time to dig and store your tropical bulbs and bulb-like structures. Today I will be focusing on cannas (Photo 1), which has a rhizome structure. Although this is termed differently, these tropical plants should be treated as tender bulbs and should be dug up before the first killing frost.

    The Weather Channel is predicting freezing temperatures this Friday night. Be sure to get outside while the weather is decent if you would like to save these tropical plants from the frigid temperatures that lie ahead.

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    I almost missed the window to overwinter my ornamental sweet potato vines. Luckily, so far in the Chicago region the temperature only hit a low of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can see in Photo 1, the vines were only slightly damaged by this minor frost. In case you are curious as to the definition of a frost, the Illinois State Water Survey State Climatologist uses a temperature threshold of 32° for frost and 28° for a hard freeze.

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    If you read my last post I was going to write about cutting and preserving herbs, but since the weather is still cooperating I wish to complete a different landscape task. The landscape improvement I decided to focus on this week is dividing peonies. If you are looking to divide your peonies, this should be done in the next week. September is typically a better time to divide peonies, but time just got away from me this season. Since it is very early in October and the weather is still quite warm, I went ahead and divided my peonies last weekend.

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    Hello all!

  20. Published

    Welcome to my new blog! Thank you for showing interest.

    I will be writing and posting photos about my seasonal landscape improvements here. Please contact me if you would like me to post on certain topics.