Million Bells, by Emma Gossett, via Unsplash

My mom deserves an extra special gift for Mother’s Day. She really helped her kids out during the pandemic, offering child care, shopping, laundry, moral support, therapy—and she’s an overall cool person to hang and watch sci-fi movies with.

Photo by Nick Windsor via Unsplash

For vibrant cut flowers this season, plant summer bulbs like dahlias, gladiolus, and lilies.

These summer-blooming tropical bulbs are called ‘tender bulbs’ because they can be killed by our cold temperatures if left outdoors during the winter, or if they’re planted too early in the spring. They do need well drained soils, but consistent watering. 

cool season blooms - photo by Terrance Raper on Unsplash

As winter slowly fades, every gardener is getting anxious for spring—to dig their hands into the dirt, smell the fresh-cut grass, and fill their containers with annual combinations bursting with color. While it is still a little too early to plant most annual plants, there are a few you can plant now that will tolerate the cooler spring-time temperatures.

assorted cut flowers in a wide mouth jar. credit:

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love in the form of flowers. This holiday excites floral designers because they know every festive flower can generate a positive emotional response.

growing crops in bags

Patio containers will grow food and boast hues of silver and white, and I think we may even see gardeners experimenting with growing sweet potato vine towers.

paperwhite bloom (Narcissus papyraceus)

Bring the garden inside this winter with fun activities and experiments! ‘Forcing’ paperwhite bulbs is a family-friendly activity to add a touch of nature to your home this winter. The technique nurtures a winter bloom indoors by providing bulbs with favorable growing conditions similar to spring.

bulbs, pixabay

As many perennial plants are getting ready to go dormant for the winter, it is time to start thinking about next spring’s floral display and plant spring-flowering bulbs. The best time to plant spring bulbs is late September through October to allow sufficient time for a good root system to develop before winter. Depending on the location, spring bulbs begin blooming in late February (snowdrops) and continue until late June (alliums).

joseph's coat

This is the time of the year to make tough decisions about what will take up residence in the house and what will succumb to the frost. Though frost will inevitably kill off most of the tender plants that I have cared for all summer, some of these plants can be saved for next year.

Houseplants

Are you ready to take your butterfly gardening to the next level and allow some of your beautiful plants to be eaten by caterpillars?

Choose the right plants, give them some care, and voila — caterpillars. The most grown caterpillar food in our gardens are milkweeds for monarchs and parsley for black swallowtails. By adding a few more native shrubs, perennials and annuals, as well as allowing certain weeds to remain, the caterpillar café could be open in no time.

Shrubs

silvery checkerspot by kathy dumler

Are you ready to take your butterfly gardening status to the next level and allow some of your beautiful plants to be eaten by caterpillars?

Choosing the right plants, some care and voila caterpillars. I am not only altering the habitat of my backyard for the greater good, I will have some more willing specimens for my Instagram posts.

LEGO art in the garden. Photo by Kelly Allsup.

Looking back, we may realize this was the year we had a surge in cultivating new gardeners and nature enthusiasts.

While most of my readers already garden and are looking for new tips and interesting information, we likely have brand new gardeners who can do without technical jargon and nuanced garden issues! Back to the basics!

Below are a few tips to be a successful new gardener.

nodding onion

Planting perennials can bring you wonderful surprises and inspiration for future garden design.

University of Illinois Extension Livingston County Master Gardeners would like to welcome spring with an educational workshop entitled “A Day in the Garden Patch” on Saturday, April 4 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon.

A Day in the Garden Patch is all about inspiring, educating and encouraging gardeners, whether they have a balcony and a sunny window or an acre to grow. This educational event is for all who love plants and want to discover new gardening tips while having fun.

brandywine viburnum

Have you ever heard a horticulturists encourage the use of plants having “multiple seasons of interest”? This might be said in response to someone’s complaints about forsythia, for example.

Forsythia blooms in spring, an explosion of lemon-yellow blossoms covering the plant. But the rest of the year, it is drab and unruly. The unruliness causes many gardeners to shear the shrub into boxes (completely unnecessarily) and then when spring comes again the flower display is subpar and sparse—one season of interest is all you will get from forsythia.

Get your gardens buzzing next spring by planting bee-friendly bulbs and spring bloomers this fall.

Bumblebee queens, honey bees, and solitary bees start emerging from their winter homes ready to feast on the landscape as early as March. Feed them from your garden by planting a mix of crocus, snow drops, Siberian squill, grape hyacinth, bluebells with spring flowering hellebores and primroses to ensure many sources of nectar.