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The Garden Scoop 2022


Holly: A native holiday decoration

Hollies are common landscape plants and even more common holiday decorations that belong to the incredibly diverse genus Ilex which contains over 400 species, both evergreen and deciduous, that hail from all corners of the globe.  A locally adapted holly species or cultivar is relatively easy...
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Prairie dropseed is shorter native grass that nicely accentuates the edge of garden beds or walkways.

Native Perennials with Winter Interest

As fall progresses and most plants lose their leaves or retreat to their winter dormancy, portions of the landscape can appear bare and boring for winter.  Evergreens and woody plants are commonly considered the best specimens for winter interested, providing structure throughout the seasons...
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Growing Loofa Gourds

Most gardeners who have planted a summer squash in their vegetable garden can attest to the prolific growth of healthy squash vines.  And in good years, many can also recount the bountiful harvest, with fruits ripening faster than you can pick them at times.  I think we’ve all found those...
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History of Joe-Pye Weed

One of my favorite plants of the late summer is the tall and tasseled titan, Joe-Pye Weed.  This common name refers to several native species which often require an additional descriptive word to identify individuals, although many of us drop the descriptor and simply say “Joe-Pye Weed”....
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Invasive Species and Birds

Nearly every deciduous plant in the Illinois landscape has lost it leaves for the year, except for one standout.  The non-native, invasive shrubs collectively referred to as bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) have not quite lost them yet, which makes it noticeable this time of year....
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What Happened to my Dwarf Spruce Tree?

There are many oddities of the plant world that are hard to pass up without some questions.  Based on the perspective of the beholder, some of these strange phenomena may lead to either wonder or concern.  One plant that has fueled both questions of marvel and worry is the popular...
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Broomcorn Research at University of Illinois

When you consider the common field crops in Illinois, it is no doubt that corn (Zea mays) has heavily influenced on agriculture.  However, broomcorn (Sorghum bicolor) is a lesser-known member of the grass family (Poaceae) with an agricultural history of its own in our...
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assorted cut evergreen trees and wreaths for sale at a market

Christmas tree selection, sustainability and identification

This time of year, many folks have questions while searching for the perfect Christmas tree.  In recent years, I have written several blog posts on this topic, covering various aspects of Christmas tree care, identification, selection, and sustainability. Take a look at our collection of...
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White pine has beautiful color that is expressed in the yellow innermost needles this time of year.

Fall Color from Conifers

The beauty of fall is upon us with splashes of exorbitant color all around the landscape.  In the past week, red maples (Acer rubrum) have nearly reached their peak color for the season, displaying fire-red leaves that scream for attention.  The brilliant yellows of shagbark (...
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Conservation Status of the Monarch Butterfly

Earlier this summer the monarch butterfly was in the news as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) designated the migratory species as “Endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species.  This announcement sparked some misunderstanding as many confused the IUCN Red List...
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Right now, mums are available at local garden centers in a wide variety of colors.

Planting and Maintaining Perennial Mums

Throughout the fall season, garden centers are filled with a beautiful selection of mums (short for chrysanthemums).   In the garden, mums provide a both a spectacular fall display and a late season nectar source for pollinating insects.  It is a wonderful time to plant these...
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Goldenrods and asters provide some of the showiest flowers of fall, but can be aggressive in gardens if not planted appropriately.

Goldenrods and asters are the stars of fall

This past week was the fall equinox which marks the beginning of the fall season. With the cooler weather in recent days, it has really started to feel like the time of changing leaves and brilliant autumn colors. While most of us are thinking of tree color this time of year, there are...
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Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Bee Balm for the Home Landscape

In recent visits to local prairies, I was reminded of a spectacular native plant that is often overshadowed by its more common hybrid cousins.  Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is native plant with a home range that spans our continent.  It frequents a wide range of locations on...
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Sedges for the Landscape

Noteworthy plants in natural areas can be the superstars of landscaping when gardeners learn to harness their natural tendencies and display their most virtuous attributes.  One group of plants that I have often underestimated are sedges (Carex spp.).  These tough native...
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Lunar Influence on Gardening

Our sun has special significance in the gardening world.  It offers sunlight, which plants use to generate energy and directly influences plant lifecycles in a variety of ways.  Have you ever considered the role of the moon in plant growth?  Historically, many agricultural and...
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Lawn Care and Pollinators

Greening spring lawns are a welcome sign to many of us, but they are also a sign of yardwork to come for the rest of the growing season.  The desire to get a jump start on mowing for season, or perhaps to get outside and be active after winter dormancy, spurs a lot of early season grass...
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False Indigo - A Native Shrub for the Home Landscape

Native plants are ever gaining popularity as gardeners seek specimens with high ecological value in support of declining insect pollinator populations.  Among the almost 2,300 plant species known to be native in Illinois, our native shrubs are often overlooked and underappreciated in the...
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Champaign County Master Gardener's Plant Trial Program

Like clockwork, the Champaign County Master Gardeners (CCMG) moved hundreds of plants from the greenhouse out to the Idea Garden on University of Illinois Campus in early May. This annual tradition has been ongoing for over two decades now as part of a plant trial program the gardeners participate...
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poison hemlock flowers

Poison hemlock toxicity risk and control

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) has received a lot of attention lately, with reports of expanding populations statewide and subsequent increased human contact with this toxic plant. However, there is some confusion about the risk this plant poses to humans and animals,...
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