URBANA, Ill. – Plant enthusiasts should check out tillandsia this holiday season, according to University of Illinois Extension educator Kelly Allsup.

"Even if you describe yourself as a brown thumb and are allergic to soil, you are going to love growing these super easy plants. The strappy tillandsia plants come in different sizes, textures, and colors and you are sure to find one to fit your holiday décor," Allsup says.

It's a Culinary Delight in the Courthouse Garden


University of Illinois Extension Woodford County Master Gardeners celebrate this summer with the sweet aroma and culinary delight of herbs from the garden in a program entitled "It's a Culinary Delight!" Learn how to grow herbs, revel in the "tastes" of the landscape with Master Gardener treats and discover new and inventive ways to use your herbs on Tuesday, September 27 at 5 p.m. on the Woodford County Courthouse lawn in Eureka.

Kitchen Gnats

"The major houseplant migration, along with the bananas that are ripening on my counter have caused fungus gnat chaos in my kitchen," states University of Illinois Horticulture Educator Kelly Allsup. Flying gnats have not only populated my home but they have thrived. Another factor that may have contributed to this pest is compost collecting. Without natural pest predators to take care of the problem, I must consider other options.

Tour Biltmore Estate with the Mclean County Master GardenersBLOOMINGTON, Ill. –
The University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners invite you to accompany them on a trip to the beautiful "Land of the Sky," Asheville, North Carolina, on a six day, five night tour August 21 to 26.We will spend a full day at the Biltmore Estate and Antler Village and Winery.
The Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in the United States and boasts gardens with vistas that will take your breath away.

Seed Starting at Eureka Public Library

Learn to start seeds like a professional with the University of Illinois Extension Woodford County Master Gardeners, and check out your first seeds from the Eureka Public Library's seed library for free at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26. Seating is limited, so make sure to register by calling the Eureka Public Library at (309) 467-2922. The library is located at 202 S. Main St, Eureka. If you need a reasonable accommodation to attend this program, please contact the Woodford County Extension Office at (309)467-3789.

The Bald Eagle has inspired feelings of majesty and strength long before it became the symbol of the United States. This bird looks strong and powerful and awe inspiring when in flight or sitting on a perch. The way that the Bald Eagle looks makes it easy to see how it was chosen as the national emblem of the United States, though long before the birth of this nation, it was a strong spiritual symbol for the Native Americans.

Woodford County Master Gardeners offer gardening help desk
EUREKA, Ill. – Is there a problem with your yard or garden? Are pests and weeds concerning you? The University of Illinois Extension Woodford County Master Gardeners' Help Desk offers the community a unique opportunity to bring in your gardening questions and receive well-researched answers. The next walk-in help desk will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, July 11 at the Eureka Public Library, 202 S.
What is that green stuff growing on my tree, and will it kill it? a homeowner wonders.

They are lichens, and they are not harmful to your tree but an indication that you live in an area with good air quality. It can be common to see lichens growing on trees in Illinois, but they can also grow on rocks, homes and barns.Lichens are a symbiotic combination of algae and a fungus.
Digging and storing cannas
URBANA, Ill. -
Now is the time to devise a plan for digging and storing cannas, says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Nancy Kreith."To successfully overwinter cannas indoors, the bulbs should be dug up after the first light frost has killed the top of the plant," she explains. "Although technically they are not bulbs, but rhizomes, cannas need to be treated as tender bulbs and must be dug up to survive the winter.

Small Garden Pizazz in Gridley

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners start their educational series in Gridley at 2 p.m. on April 23 at the Gridley Public Library with Amy Davis presenting on "Small Garden Pizazz." This program is free to all and no registration is required.

Mitigating Winter Damage to Trees and Woody Shrubs workshop

Please join the University of Illinois Extension Woodford County Master Gardeners for a hands-on workshop titled Mitigating Winter Damage to Trees and Woody Shrubs on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Eureka Public Library. Illinois State University's Patrick Murphy will lead this workshop just in time for you to learn the skills to prune and repair your landscape trees like a professional.

Four Seasons gardening program offers fall series

The fall series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program, which focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production, is underway this month. The first session of the series is titled, Mysterious Modifications: Plants That Grow in Unusual Ways.

URBANA, Ill. – Many Americans only know chestnuts from the famous line, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire," from the 1945 song, "Merry Christmas to You," by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé. Prior to its demise in the first half of the 20th century, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was one of the largest and most important timber- and nut-producing trees in the eastern United States.

URBANA, Ill. – Love it or hate it, broccoli is touted as a superfood, offering an array of health benefits. And it's about to get even more super. University of Illinois researchers have identified candidate genes controlling the accumulation of phenolic compounds in broccoli.

Square Foot Gardening

Companion Planting Workshop

Please join University of Illinois Extension Horticulture program in Livingston, McLean and Woodford Counties for a series of workshops designed to teach the community how to grow. The workshops teach both novice and avid gardener's skills to grow flowers and vegetables fruitfully. Please visit the local Extension website for a full schedule of topics, dates and locations of upcoming classes – web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw.

Welcome Beneficial Guests to an Insect Hotel

by Kelly Allsup

Did you know that with minimal investment, you can open a hotel? Insect hotels offer places for beneficial insects and pollinators to survive winter's chill and to nest in spring and summer. You can use them to employ garden warriors in any flower bed, vegetable garden, or fruit orchard.

The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate Livingston County Master Gardener, Cathy Montgomery, for being recognized as a 2016 Outstanding Illinois Master Gardener. Retired school teacher turned Master Gardener volunteer; she has continued her life's work of making a difference in the community and touching the lives of our area youth through horticulture education.
In her short tenure as a Master Gardener, her volunteer services and contributions to the Master Gardener program have more than exceeded expectations for this award.

Start your gardening endeavors this fall by using plant materials (organic matter) that you would normally put on the curb for pick-up. Whether you use the trench, keyhole, mound (also known as Hugelkultur) gardening methods, you will be creating a growing environment that requires no fertilizer, little irrigation and ideal for root growth.

Large numbers of syrphid, or flower, flies are being seen. They are small flies, usually 1/4 inch or shorter, with yellow and black or brown bands on the abdomen. They hover around your arms when you have been perspiring and land to lap up the sweat. This hovering also gives them the name of hover flies. They are called flower flies because they are commonly found on flowers, pollinating as they move from flower to flower. They are called syrphid flies because they are in the fly family Syrphidae.

Spring Sweetness: Strawberries

Strawberry Facts

1. It takes 15-60 visits from pollinators for one plump strawberries. Adding pollinators to the garden can increase yield by over 500%.

2. Strawberry plants decline in quality and production after a few years so are typically replanted.

3. Strawberries are picked with part of the stem still attached.

4. Seventy per cent of a strawberry's roots are located in the top three inches of soil.

5. On average, there are 200 seeds in a strawberry.

One of the most prolific birds of prey seen in Illinois is the Red -tailed Hawk. They are frequently seen along roadsides perched in trees, on light poles, and fence poles. When you see a hawk, you are most likely seeing a Red -tailed Hawk.

Woolly aphids typically feed on two hosts during a 1-year period, with most species apparently having to switch hosts. This host-switching occurs in various species from late June to late July, and fuzzy adult females that look like flying lint seemingly drifting on the wind are their means of getting to the other host.

Top Tree Diseases & Insects Workshop

EUREKA, Ill. – Please join University of Illinois Extension Woodford County Master Gardeners at the Eureka Public Library on September 12 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Whether you want to sit and talk about gardening or ask about a specific issue that you would like them to research, please visit the Woodford County Master Gardeners at their monthly help desk.
Join the McLean County Master Gardeners to celebrate the 2016 Herb of the Year BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –
And the 2016 Herb of the Year is – peppers! The University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners are ready to celebrate! Join them 9:30 a.m.

One thing I constantly get asked when assisting with the Master Gardener help desks, is "How do I grow grass under a tree?" The answer usually is, "You don't grow grass under trees."

It can be very difficult to create a nice-looking stand because most grasses need sun to grow and the roots of trees (especially if they are shallow) will steal the water and nutrients.

Kokedama String Ball Garden Workshop

Few people like 90+ degree temperatures. Plants aren't far behind. On hot days, plants can lose water faster than roots absorb it, even if sufficient soil moisture is available. In these conditions, you can watch the plants wilt, leaves droop, and stems seem to flop. If the soil is moist, the plants start to recover as the sun sets. By morning, they look turgid, only to begin the cycle again when the sun shines hard. This is what we are currently seeing in Illinois.

Two gardening tasks for autumn BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –
University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Kelly Allsup recommends two essential gardening tasks to do this fall: fertilize your trees and refrain from cleaning up your perennial garden.
Fall is a great time to fertilize trees; roots remain active in absorbing nutrients and water despite the leaves falling off of the tree. Fertilizing trees is a great way to reduce the environmental stresses of the growing season.
Peas, leafy greens, potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoes and numerous herbs have thus far been harvested from my straw bale garden this year, states University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. The bales are lined up in pairs standing just east of her driveway, close to a water source. Every now and then, Allsup spies a 4-year-old grazing on onion greens and Swiss chard.

Four Seasons Gardening Program Offers Spring Series

Ella Maxwell of Hoerr Nursery to Present at 'A Day in the Garden Patch'

Staghorn Fern: A Growing Work of Art

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Do you have an empty spot on your wall that is just screaming for a touch of green? "Create a unique art installment this winter in the form of a beautifully mounted Staghorn Fern," states University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup.

Kokedama String Ball Garden Workshop Livingston County Master Gardeners would like to invite you to an exceptional make and take workshop entitled "Kokedama String Ball Gardening." The class is on Saturday, October 22 at the Livingston County Extension Office. A small registration fee of $15 is required to hear local Master Gardener, Dawn Baker, instruct attendees about her experiences with this new and trendy topic in the horticulture world.

These dangerous carrots cause photo-dermatitis. Cow parsnip, wild parsnip, and giant hogweed contain an allergen that is activated by sunlight to cause rash, blisters, or other skin irritations in susceptible people.

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) is a native plant that can reach eight feet tall. Like the hemlocks, its flowers are white, but cow parsnip flowers are larger, growing to 10 inches across. The large flowers were obvious as we rode past them on the motorcycle.

Woodford County Master Gardeners accept new members

University of Illinois Extension Woodford Master Gardener program welcomes nine new interns to the county. The interns participated in the first Master Gardener training conducted here in Woodford County. They join a group of 15 active Master Gardeners. After completing 11 sessions in all subjects' horticulture, the interns have already started sharing their garden knowledge in the community.
The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate McLean County Master Gardeners Diane Boeck, Lenore Clark, Tom Creswell, Pat Epsicokhan, Lucy Kelly and Sharon O'Neall for being recognized with the 2016 Outstanding State Master Gardener award. The Outstanding State Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois State Master Gardeners win this award annually. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.
Late-blooming beauties
URBANA, Ill. -
Just as most flowers are frying or fading, late-blooming perennials take off and steal the show, says Sandra Mason, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.Mason shares a few late-blooming beauties to create a fantastic fall flower garden.
Fall anemones, which include an array of species (Anemone hupehensis,A. x hybrida, A. tomentosa,andA. vitifolia) are reliable late bloomers, according to Mason. Some start blooming in July and continue to bloom into November.

Brussels Sprouts

"Brussels sprouts were the high point of numerous meals over my holiday season. I must admit I have never grown this delectable vegetable because it is known to be a slow-growing vegetable, but now have aspirations to make it part of my fall harvest this year," states University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup.

Hostas are among some of the most cherished perennials of all time, creating a lush pallet of bright greens, muted greens, chartreuse greens, variegated greens and creams, and blue greens.

They come in miniature versions to lofting leaves as tall as a small child. Hostas are commonly described as ''fabulous foliage plants" by the industry but some of their blooms can be exceedingly showy, exceptionally fragrant and especially attractive to hummingbirds and bees.

CELEBRATE HERBS AT WESTVIEW PARKGRIDLEY, Ill.
Interested in getting an herb garden started or expanding your knowledge on how to use the herbs you grow? Join the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners at 6:30 p.m. on June 14 at Westview Park for their free program, "A Dozen Culinary Herbs and How to Grow Them."
Westview Park is located at 405 W. Seventh St.

Please join Ginny Hodgson and the University of Illinois Extension Woodford County Master Gardeners at the "Gardeners' Gathering" from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 16 at the Great Oaks Community Church, located at 515 Rt. IL-116 in Germantown Hills. Past participants have said this is the best gardening event in Woodford County, so registration will fill up quickly. A $20 registration fee will include morning refreshments, two stellar presentations, one hands-on workshop where you will make your very own container of unique succulents.

Adult Japanese beetles have been reported in southern, central, and northern Illinois. Early control reduces damage through the six weeks that they are actively feeding as beetles are attracted to previous feeding damage.

She's unassuming. She's loud. She's somewhat inappropriate -- that is, if you were thinking you were going to get gardening advice from your grandma. She describes herself as a grade below Martha Stewart and uses common sense to distill her gardening woes.

Join the University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners for the third herb class of the summer at their Herb Garden located in Illinois State University Horticulture Center on Raab Road in Normal. On August 17 at 10 a.m., a program entitled "What to do with your fragrant herbs" will be presented to all who want to learn how to do more with their herbs.

Planting a fall vegetable garden
URBANA, Ill. -
Planting a vegetable garden doesn't just happen in the spring. "Many of the vegetables that we grow in the spring can be planted in late summer or early fall," says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Ken Johnson."By the time summer rolls around many of our cool-season plants that were planted in the spring are past their prime," says Johnson.

Praying Mantis have been stalking our gardens and startling our young but are a good sign of a healthy ecosystem. Praying Mantis get their name from a Greek word meaning "prophet," "seer" or "diviner." How they stand when they are in position to catch their prey underwrites their name. Two things contribute to high numbers of praying mantis. They are larger later in the season and therefore more noticeable by an unsuspecting passerby, and warm temperatures cause populations to grow faster.

It was the second week in September, and he saw the robust sweet potatoes sticking their spuds out of the soil. He had planned on harvesting the sweet potatoes later just before the first frost. However, like many vegetable growers, Reid Young, changed his harvest plan and freed the sweet potatoes from the soil early. Reid Young is a program coordinator in Local Foods for the University of Illinois Extension and grower at the community garden for Unity Community Center.
Learn plant propagation techniques at Sarah's Garden BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –
Propagating plants can be one of the most exciting tasks a gardener can do. The University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners invite you to learn about propagation techniques at the historic Sarah's Garden. Join them at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 30 at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington.
If you would love to be able to populate your own garden with 140-year-old horticultural treasures, don't miss out on this unique opportunity to take home cuttings from Sarah's Garden!

BLOOMINGTON, IL. — The Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference (ISCAOC) will be held January 11-13, 2017, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The conference, which features nearly 100 speakers and 60 trade show exhibitors, will again host four concurrent preconference workshops, general sessions and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations.

Fertilize your spring flowering bulbs with a slower-releasing granular of one to two pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet when shoots first appear in spring and ideally four to six weeks before bloom. Adding fertilizer in spring produces healthy and robust foliage which consequently allows bulb's to increase stored carbohydrates that will produce a larger bloom the next year. Work in granular fertilizer shallowly around the bulbs. Repeat this application in the early fall when newly growing roots start spreading.

Woodford Master Gardeners win state awardsEUREKA, Ill. – The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate Woodford County Master Gardeners, Barry Ankney, Karel Kaufman and Karen Kaufman-Dixon for their 2016 Outstanding State Master Gardener awards. The Outstanding State Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois Master Gardeners win this award. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.

The popular tree pruning workshop is back, and this year will be led by Illinois State University's own Patrick Murphy. Patrick is a horticulturist and curator of the Fell Arboretum that boasts thousands of trees, including 154 different species. Patrick will demonstrate the correct pruning techniques during this hands-on workshop.

Would you like to try growing something new in your vegetable garden this year? "These unusual but elegant vegetables are sure to give you restaurant-quality meals throughout the summertime," claims University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup.

Haricot vertsare long, graceful and lean beans that grow between 4 to 6 inches long. One plant of these sweet green beans will yield a half pound of produce. 'Finaud,' 'Tavera' and 'Nickel' are the most tender because of their small seeds.

Manage pests on your favorite trees
URBANA, Ill. –
University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Kelly Allsup cautions to watch out for insect pests on favorite landscape trees this late summer and fall.

Pollinator gardens are on trend whether you are novice or a professional. University of Illinois Extension has developed a program called Pollinator Pockets giving homeowners resources to start their own pocket gardens. They have created designs that are easy to replicate. All you have to do is find the plants and build your pollinator oasis. They utilize a mix of native perennials, non-native cultivars like Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and annuals that most pollinators love.

Add A Fresh Evergreen Centerpiece to Your Holiday Table

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Simplify the holidays by purchasing an evergreen centerpiece created by University of Illinois Extension-Livingston County Master Gardeners. Master Gardeners are celebrating the holidays with rich, textural, aromatic evergreens, colorful ribbons, and earthy pine cones all tucked into a 6" decorative container that are ready for the holiday table or as the perfect gift. The cost is $25 and all proceeds from the centerpiece sale go back into their programs and community projects.

The University of Illinois Extension Livingston County Master Gardeners and the Yost House Museum are partnering for a program about herbs on Saturday, August 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. on the grounds of the Yost House. The house will also be open for tours from 1 to 5 p.m. on that day.

Sign up today for the Master Gardener training and volunteer program BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –
Would you like to learn about growing vegetables, landscaping, trees, insects or turf grass from the University of Illinois Extension?

A new invasive species, jumping worm (Amynthasspp.), was identified in Illinois in 2015. By the end of the year these worms had been confirmed in three northern counties: Cook, DuPage, and McHenry. A worm from far southern Illinois in Williamson County was examined at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic and confirmed as a jumping worm, drastically increasing the range of this worm in Illinois.

With damaged lawns in the news lately, I thought I would share tips on renovating lawns this spring from fellow University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Chris Enroth.

Spring is a time when we must go into landscape rehab mode. Mother Nature has shown her friendly side with the warmer winter temperatures and a handful of good rain and snow events. With the soil moisture up and temperatures warming, it is time to think about overseeding your lawn.