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Gardening gratitude yellow sugar maple leaf with heart cut out in middle bare tree branches in background

Gardening Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving During this season of appreciation, it is only right that we take time this week to share a few of our gardening-related gratitudes. Each author of Good Growing took a few minutes to contribute expressions of thanksgiving and those are found below, but first a collective...
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Getting trees and shrubs ready for winter. Trees with red and orange fall foliage with evergreen shrubs behind

Getting trees and shrubs ready for winter

The leaves are dropping off trees, and many of us are putting our gardens to bed for winter. While preparing the garden for winter, spend a little time preparing your trees and shrubs, too. Doing a few simple things this fall can help protect them from damage this winter and get them off to a good...
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Pop the cork tree view up into canopy of cork tree cork and bark has been harvested off trunk

Pop the Cork Tree

As the holiday season approaches, many of us will indulge in an alcoholic beverage or two as a part of the celebration. My preferences vary depending on the season but during the winter, I strongly favor a bottle of red wine. If you are like me and enjoy the vino, let’s explore one of the plants...
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A tree grows everywhere: Tree-of-heaven image of woodlands full of young trees end of summer

A tree grows everywhere: Tree-of-heaven

Two separate serendipitous events occurred recently that brought a plant back to the forefront of my attention. First, a few weeks ago a colleague asked me to confirm the species of a tree growing near a public garden. The garden was struggling to grow, and a cursory identification of the tree...
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a sweetgum tree beginning to change to a red fall color

Early fall color could be a sign of tree stress

As summer transitions to fall, many Illinoisians are looking forward to everything pumpkin-spiced, hoodie weather, and the fall color of our trees. However, even at the tail end of summer heat, there are trees already rewarding us with some fall color. But is it a reward or a call for help? Some...
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Tulips in the treetops: Liriodendron tulipifera text background image of tuliptree blossoms upright on tree branches with leaves

Tulips in the treetops: Liriodendron tulipifera

On a recent family vacation, I was able to revisit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As I return to places I was privileged to visit as a child, I prepare for the trip, in part, by trying to dig deep into my memory bank and recall as much as I can about the place so I can compare. I am...
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Champion Trees: Winning in size and wonder large spreading tree canopy backlit by sun green foliage

Champion Trees: Winning in size and wonder

Illinois Extension is a resource available for all community members. We work hard to help residents find answers to burning questions, and solutions to challenges, and keep current on industry and university research. We provide education and outreach through a variety of outlets- this article is...
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people planting balled and burlap tree using wire clippers to remove wire cage

Balled and burlap trees: Remove the burlap

Balled and burlap trees: Remove the burlap April is arbor month and April 28, 2023, is Arbor Day. This is a day inspired by the multitude of benefits trees provide, the desire to have more trees in our communities, and a call to action to plant trees on this day. I have spent my entire career...
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The weight of winter: snow and ice on trees image of ice on dormant tree branches

The weight of winter: Snow and ice on trees

I write this article as I look out at a snow-covered landscape and give thanks for the warmth of my office. It is during these days that I’m reminded of the awesome adaptability of nature. Trees and animals can survive, even thrive, in a climate where temperatures can easily span one-hundred...
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Urban Forest: Not a contradiction but a critical resource overhead photo of a community with low residential buildings and many trees blue sky with a few white clouds

Urban Forest: Not a contradiction, a critical resource

By definition, a forest is a large area of land covered with trees and understory growth. Traditionally, these parcels of land are often imagined as plant-dense woodlands with a diverse mix of species layered from tall trees down to mosses on the woodland floor. These plants are growing where seeds...
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Bald cypress tree

One tough tree: Bald cypress

Lessons learned: Bald cypress is a tree to know Don’t you wish you knew then what you know now? Speaking from experience, when I first began studying plants, people would ask me lots of gardening or landscaping questions. Did I as a first-year student know the answer? No. Did I pretend to? Yes. It...
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truck hauling firewood

Emerald Ash Borer: Is it okay to move firewood yet?

Many years ago, when emerald ash borer (EAB), had just arrived in northern Illinois, a colleague came across a flatbed trailer loaded with cut ash trees at a gas station. At that time Illinois counties confirmed with EAB had a quarantine that restricted moving ash wood outside of the county. Most...
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a wilted tree branch

How to protect landscape plantings during drought

The summer of 2012 saw my first year as an Extension horticulture educator; it also was one of the driest years on record. Illinois saw massive shortages of rainfall that year- complete with water restrictions, loss of crops, and the demise of many ornamental landscapes. It was a summer that will...
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a stand of trees forming a windbreak

Picking the right tree for your windbreak

Picking a tree for a windbreak is a big decision. A windbreak protects a home from the constant Illinois wind and blowing snow. With this important job, you want the trees that make up your windbreak to be strong and healthy for as long as possible. To help in making that decision here are some...
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A windbreak of evergreens

Tips for a creating a successful windbreak

Hold on to your hats! It is windy here in Illinois. Wind can be destructive to our homes and landscapes, plus it can make being outside miserable. This is why many Illinoisians plant windbreaks around their homes to keep that biting wind from causing a drafty house, prevent drifting snow, and make...
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Add some color to your winter landscape by growing holly. Red holly berries and green holly leaves.

Add some color to your winter landscape by growing holly

Needled evergreens like pines, firs, and spruces get most of the attention this time of year. However, broadleaf evergreens like holly also make an appearance during holiday festivities. In addition to providing some decoration for the December holidays, they are also great plants in the landscape...
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developing hazelnuts

Hazelnuts: A native plant is a new crop for Illinois

You’ve likely heard of hazelnuts, perhaps even used them in some delightful dessert or savory dishes and garnishes. If you give my children a choice between peanut butter or a chocolaty hazelnut spread, the peanut butter jar remains unopened. About 40 percent of global hazelnut production goes into...
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bareroot tree planting

Three planting tips to increase your tree’s life

A tree is a long-term investment for a home. Truthfully, we often don’t plant trees for us, but for those that come after us. But many trees planted in a developed area don’t live past their eighth year. Here are some tips to help get your new tree past the eight-year hump and keep it going for...
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loppers cutting a tree branch

Proper Pruning of Trees

Trees in the landscape can be easily overlooked for the all the benefits they provide us whether that be casting shade on a warm, summer day, housing our feathered, birds friends, or adding a touch of color to our lawns. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, trees on a property...
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Christmas trees

Christmas Tree Selection

Some of my fondest memories of Christmas growing up was venturing out to get a Christmas tree together as a family. Most of the time we just found a misshapen red cedar tree from our timber; however, when choosing a Christmas tree, ideally you want something that has good shape, color, and branch...
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pots with dormant plants covered in snow clustered together on a porch

Overwintering potted plants

Have you ever gone a little overboard buying plants and run out of room or energy to plant them all in the fall and figured it could wait until spring, only to find out most, or all have died? Or maybe you’ve had a container planter with perennials and excitedly waited for them to resume growth in...
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wound sealer painted on a tree wound

Should we paint tree wounds?

I spend a lot of time asking homeowners to show me their tree butts. Buttress to be specific, but industry lingo shortens it to butt and is described as the dramatic widening of the lower trunk. The buttress of a tree is located beginning at the root flare where the base of the trunk flares out...
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Tree troubles usually start at the base of the trunk

Tree troubles usually start at the base of the trunk

I get lots of pictures of sick trees. Most of the time the first photo sent to me is a declining canopy. Maybe a picture of an ugly leaf. After all, that’s what we tend to notice first as our eyes occasionally gaze upward to the living behemoths that shade our parks, yards, and homes. There is one...
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branches from cherry tree blooming indoors

Bringing Spring Indoors - Forcing Branches

The weather this year has been a bit of a roller coaster. One day it feels like spring, and the next, we are reminded that we’re still in the middle of winter. Despite some of the warmer temperatures we’ve had this year, we still have a way to go before the warm weather sticks around for the long...
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New Year New Yard

New Year, New Yard: Making plans for your landscape in 2020

It is now the year 2020. It seems like everyone agrees, saying year “twenty-twenty”, feels so strange. As if we have arrived in a future we’ve only seen in movies and the Jetsons. As we were preparing for a New Year’s party, my six-year-old asked “Why is New Year’s such a big deal?” I explained,...
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Christmas trees leaning against wooden pallets in a snow covered field

Christmas Trees After the Holidays

All good things must come to an end. Once the Christmas holiday, or in some cases New Year's, is over, the Christmas tree will need to come down. Instead of hauling off this year’s Christmas tree to the dump right away (or having the city pick it up), consider repurposing it in your landscape. One...
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Winter Dormancy

Winter Dormancy in the Landscape

By mid-November, the last of the leaves float down to the ground and the landscape appears stark. All is quiet and nothing is growing as our gardens have been put to bed. Or are they? As I walk outside in the frigid cold, it is obvious my body has yet to adapt to colder temperatures, yet the turf...
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Why do tree leaves change color in autumn?

In the language of folklore, Jack Frost has often been credited with spurring the onset of fall color by pinching leaves with his icy fingers. Obviously today we know that's not the case, but for a long time, scientists thought coloring of fall leaves was caused by the accumulation of waste...
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sunshine through ash tree leaves

Enjoying the final hurrahs of a staple landscape tree

We bought a home! After six years of living in a townhouse on the edge of Macomb, we have started to burst at the seams. In that time, we have accumulated quite a few occupants in our current dwelling. Now with three kids, one dog, a cat, and a couple of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, it was time...
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tree pruning

Winter Tree Pruning

Before we know it, spring will be here. Before getting too busy planting the garden, make sure to take some time to prune your trees (if they need it). While the old adage may say, "prune when your pruners are sharp", most deciduous trees are best pruned while they are in full dormancy. In this...
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What to do When Trees are Damaged in a Wind Storm

Following a series of windy days and storms with high winds in Central Illinois, we have received reports on large sections of trees lost, gashes left in the trunks of trees, and large splits in tree trunks. What do you do when a severe windstorm damages your landscape trees? Obviously, during an...
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