The University of Illinois Extension Logan-Menard-Sangamon Unit is accepting applications for the sixth class of Master Naturalist volunteers. Training will begin in August 31 and go through October 26. Classes are held on Wednesday's. Optional Saturday field trips will be scheduled for hands-on training. Trainees study the ecology of forests and grasslands, streams and wetlands. They get hands-on experience as they learn about plants and insects, frogs, toads and snakes, birds and mammals.

Amish Cockscomb, Celosia cristata, is an annual flower that has beautiful fuzzy red flower heads. This plant is currently growing in the Dean Heirloom Garden at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, 413 South Eighth St., Springfield, Illinois.  At the Dean Heirloom Vegetable Garden, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers educate visitors about gardening in 1860's.

Explore the opportunities that the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist volunteer program has to offer. Master Naturalist summit, for current volunteers and those with an interest in the program, will be held on Saturday, June 4, from 9am to Noon at Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary, Loami, Illinois. The event is free and open to the public. This is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the Master Naturalist program.

This summer, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers will provide programs in the Master Gardener demonstration gardens.

Learn more about how to turn your yard waste into black gold for your garden. University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners volunteers will discuss steps to successful composting on Thursday, June 23, at 5:30 p.m.

Presentations will last approximately 30 minutes followed by a question and answer session.

Raising vegetables in a square foot garden can be a great way to grow produce in a small space. In 2016, master gardener volunteers planted a square foot garden in their Small Fruits and Vegetables Demonstration Garden.

The set-up followed the expertise of Mel Bartholemew set out in his "Square Foot Gardening" books.

These three pictures of the "Square Foot Garden" were taken on October 25, 2016, showing plants still growing because a killing frost has yet to occur.

Harvesting Peppers.

This summer, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers will provide programs in the Master Gardener demonstration gardens. Join Master Gardener volunteers on Thursday, August 25, at 5:30 p.m., for theirthird in a series of pepper programs. Volunteers will discuss the various peppers grown in the Herb Garden and uses for peppers.

Presentations will last approximately 30 minutes followed by a question and answer session.

Worth Waiting For....

There are many annual and perennial sages commonly found in gardens in spring and summer. They are reliable bloomers in reds, blues, and other colors and fill a variety of landscape needs. Several Salvia species are easy to grow, relatively trouble free, and pollinator friendly.

This spring, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers will provide programs in the Master Gardener demonstration gardens.

Thursday, May 19, at 5:30 pm, volunteers will demonstrate "Dividing Perennials." Demonstration will include information on how to divide various perennials including ornamental grasses and mums.

Presentations will last approximately 30 minutes followed by a question and answer session.

This summer, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers will provide programs in the Master Gardener demonstration gardens.

On Thursday, June 9, at 5:30 p.m., Master Gardener volunteers will discuss "How to Grow and Harvest Horseradish." Roots of the horseradish plant are harvested and grated to become a flavorful addition to several food dishes.Presentations will last approximately 30 minutes followed by a question and answer session.

University of Illinois Extension and Dana-Thomas House are partnering to offer a Container Gardening program on Thursday, May 19, from 5:30 to 7 pm. Join local container gardening experts Mark and Lori McWilliams, and Karen Grant at the Dana Thomas House for an opportunity to learn all the tips for success whether in every day containers to the most famous planters in Springfield.

The summer series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program, which focuses on environmental stewardship and backyard food production, gets underway this month.

Quercus Quandaries: Common Oak pests in Illinois will be offered on Tuesday, July 26, at 1:30 p.m. Join Diane Plewa, Diagnostician at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic, as she discusses some of the most common problems seen on oaks across Illinois.

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers in conjunction with the Elijah Iles House Foundation will present a program on "How to plant and care for Roses". This program will be offered on Tuesday, June 21, from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Elijah Iles House, 628 S. 7th Street, Springfield, IL. Master Gardener volunteer, Gary Lazar, will present the program.

Even experienced gardeners express frustration about successfully growing lavender. It can take up to two years to achieve the full rounded look of a beautiful mature plant. Many cultivars are labeled suitable to grow in USDA Zone 5b,but some of them can still be sensitive to the severity of the winter. It can take time to get the right combination of plants and weather to successfully overwinter lavender.

Join University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers for fun children garden activities at Henson Robinson Zoo on Friday, June 17, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Join volunteers at Imagination Station Children's Garden were they will host a fairy house building activity for children and provide information on composting with worms.

Help the Zoo celebrate the City of Springfield's proclamation of Henson Robinson Zoo Day with free admission! The zoo is located at 1100 E Lake Shore Dr, Springfield, IL.

Perhaps you've noticed the bright orange pops of color in fields and along roadsides? Butterfly weed is currently in bloom throughout Illinois.

What's new with the Small Fruits and Vegetable Gardens located at the University of Illinois Extension office located at 700 S. Airport Drive in Springfield?

The asparagus has been harvested for several weeks.  Soon it will be time to let the plants rest for the season.  For more information on growing and harvesting Asparagus, https://extension.illinois.edu/veggies/asparagus.cfm .

Salsa

Salsa is one of America's favorite condiments. While there are many types of salsa available commercially, this summer consider making garden fresh tomato salsa. Grow your own plants or purchase fresh produce from a local farmer's market. A basic tomato salsa recipe includes tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro and tomatillos. These plants can flourish with a little care in a full sun location.

You will notice something new at the University of Illinois Extension office located at 700 S. Airport Drive in Springfield, Illinois.

On May 18th, 2016, while working the Master Gardener Help Desk, which researches and helps the public with their gardening questions, a lot of activity was going on outside.

What was it you ask?

As Fall advances, coneflowers, milkweed and other favorites of butterflies and beesare producing fewer blooms and concentrating on seed production for next year. There are plenty of plantsthat continue to brighten container andlandscape plantings andserve asnectar sources.There are alsosome native perennials that continue to be very attractive blooming plants right up to the first frost.

When considering native plants to add to your garden, don't overlook Lead Plant, Amorpha canescens. It is an herbaceous, multi-stemmed perennial that grows 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. If this is a little tall for your garden location, the size is easily managed by pruning. Lead Plant has a deep branching root system good for erosion control and is easy to grow in any sunny well-drained site. As with many native plants, lead plant is drought tolerant.

Lincoln Memorial Gardens and Nature Center ecology camps are officially underway this summer for youth. Ecology camps offer children ages 4-15 the chance to explore the varied ecosystems of Illinois including the prairie, woodlands, wetlands and savanna. The camps are held during the dayfrom 8:30-3:30 p.m. Students can participate in either half day or full day sessions.

 

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers will offer "Evening in the Garden" on Thursday, July 21, from 5:30 – 7 pm. This event will showcase Master Gardener demonstration garden projects including Small Fruits, Perennial, Herb, Idea and Compost. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions on the wide variety of annuals, herbs, perennials, and fruits in their 5,000 square foot garden.

Volunteering is a great way to share your talents. University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program provides an opportunity for participants to learn more about gardening, develop new friendships and share information with others on good gardening practices.

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers of Sangamon and Menard Counties are sponsoring a Garden Garage Sale. The event will be Friday, June 10, from 9am to 1pm, at the U of I Extension Building, 700 S. Airport Drive, Springfield. Driving directions can be found at U of I Extension website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lms/ .

Bluebirds Face Predators While Nesting

This is the time of year when some varieties of basil like large leaf, purple and red varieties start to look straggly and weak. Leaves may start to discolor and drop, leaving a blank spot in the garden and few leaves for late season pesto. There are some varieties, however, that stay attractive throughout the season right up to the first frost.

More than 30 individuals gathered on June 4th at the Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary in Loami for the 2016 University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Summit. Attendees learned about wetlands including grasses, plants and wildlife that live around this habitat. Speakers included: Joe Bartletti, Prairie Engineers of Illinois, and Mary Lou Lael, U of I Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. After the session concluded attendees took a tour of the wetland property that is part of the sanctuary grounds.

University of Illinois Extension and Dana-Thomas House are partnering to offer Butterflies, Moths and Bees program on Thursday, June 16, at 5 pm. Join Master Gardener volunteers and local experts for a program on the importance of these insects and how to attract them to the garden. Program will be held at Dana-Thomas House, 301 E. Lawrence Ave., Springfield.

The hour-long presentation begins at 5 p.m. A brief garden tour and refreshments will follow in the courtyard and cottage area.

The Imagination Station Children's Garden at Henson Robinson Zoo recently welcomed some new garden helpers…WORMS! University of Illinois Extension Logan-Menard-Sangamon Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers added the worm bin to the garden on June 10.

The worm bin houses red wigglers. These worms are known as surface feeders and live in depths from 6 to 18 inches which is why they survive and even thrive in confined spaces such as a worm bin.

This summer, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers will provide programs in the Master Gardener demonstration gardens.

Keeping rose bushes healthy and blooming all summer takes a summer maintenance plan. Join Master Gardeners volunteers as they discuss "Maintaining Roses During the Summer," on Thursday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. Demonstration will include information on summer pruning, watering, fertilizing, insect and disease control of roses. Presentations will last approximately 30 minutes followed by a question and answer session.