• Kelly Allsup

Are you ready for a break from the garden? Breaking some old habits in your usual fall garden clean-up could make a huge difference to butterflies, moths, bees, and other beneficial insects that overwinter in the Illinois landscape, and be a more environmentally sound practice.

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Winter is a difficult season for roses. Rapid temperature changes, sometimes as much as 20 to 30 degrees in 24 hours, are very hard on plants. Unseasonably warm temperatures in January and February, along with repeated freezing and thawing of the soil, can do a lot of damage. What can you do this fall to help your roses make it through winter with less damage and grow well next year? Here are some simple steps.

  • Kelly Allsup

Forget itty-bitty succulents tucked into a small shallow dish. Succulent cacti are the new trend! They are just as interesting and easy to care for, but make a much larger impact on your plant-scaping efforts.

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Garden professionals often talk about sanitation as a way to manage insect and disease problems in a garden or landscape. But what exactly is garden sanitation and how does it help with pest problems?

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Every summer an unusual type of insect makes an appearance in many landscapes. Actually, there is a small group of insects, called twig girdlers or twig pruners, that cause similar damage in a variety of trees.

  • Kelly Allsup

In Illinois, we plant hardy spring-flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils in the month of October. For the most part, these can be easy ways for gardeners to add color, and non-gardeners to be successful in growing flowers because they really need little care aside from a few tips.

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Fertilization is a critical step in maintaining a healthy, vigorous turf. Applying nitrogen fertilizer in fall promotes turf recovery, but the type of fertilizer used -- quick release vs. slow release -- should change based on when your applications are made.

  • Kelly Allsup

Daffodils, tulips, crocus and hyacinth bulbs seem to materialize from snow on the saturated ground, provoking gardeners to celebrate the coming spring. However, gardeners are not planting these hardy bulbs in the spring soil, but the previous fall to over-winter in their garden beds.

  • Kelly Allsup

It was stippling on the oak leaves (a visible insect feeding pattern) that caused me to stop and take a closer look. I thought it might be spider mites. Frass (insect excrement) on the underside of the leaf told me this was a phloem feeder. Then the culprits moved when I poked at them. They were oak lace bugs (Corythucha arcuata).

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Late summer can be a ho-hum time of year for landscape perennials. Colorful flowers of the early spring and summer bloomers are long-gone and mid-summer bloomers are looking ragged after the tough months of July and August. Fall bloomers like asters and chrysanthemums haven’t started blooming yet.

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Gooseberries are one of those unusual fruits not grown by many home gardeners. But they certainly are worth consideration for home fruit production, especially if you’re creating an edible landscape and need plants with good ornamental appearance as well as food production.

  • Kelly Allsup

In July, the Community Cancer Center released over 450 monarch butterflies to commemorate the memory of loved ones and rejoice in the flight of the butterfly, symbolizing freedom and happiness. Butterflies are a wonderment for most and gardeners for the past few decades have amped up their floral resources so that they may have just a minute to see these winged beauties. With about 150 species of butterflies, they have to stay still so that I may identify them. However, they speak the language of nectar and fail to do as I ask. The following is a list of some butterflies you are seeing in your garden and how you can keep them visiting year after year:

  • Juanita Sherwood Coles County Master Gardeners

A few years back, we decided to put some early spring bulbs in our small mailbox garden. It is trapezoid shaped and close to the curb. Besides the neighbors, anyone driving by could easily see it. So, it was necessary to have something eye-catching.

  • Kelly Allsup

The summer nights of Illinois stir the senses with the illuminating performance of the lightning bug and the concerts of the cicada. The annual cicadas have begun to sing their song, and are imperative in the life cycle of the cicada killer wasp. 

  • SARAH BROWNING For the Lincoln Journal Star

Have you ever thought about saving seeds from your own vegetable garden to grow next year? It can certainly be done and isn’t as hard as you might think. However, before you get started there are a few important things to keep in mind when selecting plants from which to save seeds.

  • Kelly Allsup

They’re sweet, they’re tart, some say they’re spicy. “They are uniquely enjoyable,” says University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator Jenna Smith. And they are ready for the harvest at the Refuge Food Forest in Normal.

  • Kathy Hummel Coles County Master Gardeners

Mowing has a major impact on lawn appearance and health yet is often overlooked in terms of importance. If you maintain your own yard, or hire someone to do it, here are a few simple guidelines to assure lawns are being mowed properly.

  • KEN JOHNSON

Japanese beetles are one of the most destructive ornamental pests we have in Illinois. They were first discovered in the United States in 1916 in New Jersey and have been making their way across the U.S. since then.

  • Juanita Sherwood Coles County Master Gardeners

If you are interested in something new for your fruit crop production, you might want to check into pluots. Never heard of them? Check the produce section of a supermarket for one or two to try. You should be able to find them this time of year.

  • Kelly Allsup

Hover flies (aka syrphid flies or flower flies) are covering any nectar-producing flower in the garden this spring. These flies, commonly mistaken for bees, are one of our most prolific pollinators and aphid eaters in the Illinois garden but care must be taken to protect them when spraying pesticides.