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Thursday, June 30, 2005 12:11 am

gardening 6-30-05

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If you’re like most gardeners, you’ve been toiling away in the yard for a few months now and are seeing the results of your hard work. You’re also ready for a well-deserved break.

 The University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit Master Gardeners have the perfect answer: a summer garden walk. Join us on Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for a tour of unique gardens at five lakeside homes in Springfield.

This event is a great opportunity for gardeners and nongardeners alike to see some beautiful properties, learn about individual plants, and obtain advice from master gardeners about your home garden. Author Guy Sternberg will be available until noon at one of the sites to autograph his books, co-authored with Jim Wilson: Native Trees for North American Landscapes and Landscaping with Native Trees.

Homeowners at the these properties have graciously allowed their gardens to be open for the tour: Dave and Teri Neff (master gardener), 33 Oak Lane; Claudette and Tom Hiler (master gardener), 5 Oak Lane; Natalie and Sid Marder, 8 Bay Ridge; Bob and Wini Biehl, 12 Bay Ridge; Jim and Carol Dove, 7 East Shore Lane. All properties are located off East Lake Shore Drive, near Exit 88 of I-55. A pleasant seven-minute walk on a woodland path takes you between the Oak Lane gardens, and the Bay Ridge gardens are next-door neighbors.

The five landscaped properties include trees (one site boasts 56 mature white oaks), shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, and Japanese gardens. You’ll see sunny, colorful mixed beds; shady woodland areas with hostas, astilbe, and ferns; and homemade hypertufa containers. The gardens on the walk also feature vegetable beds, small fruits, fruit trees, ivy ground cover, daylily beds, compost bins, and roses.

Plants will be labeled, and master gardeners will be available to answer questions specific to each garden. Master gardeners will be on hand at the Hiler residence to answer your home-gardening questions. Cold drinks and cookies will be available at the Neff garden, served by the Smartseeds, the junior master gardeners of Ball Charter School.

Tickets, which cost $8 in advance, may be purchased at Ace Hardware stores in Springfield and Chatham. Tickets are also available at the Sangamon-Menard Extension offices, located in Building 30 on the Illinois State Fairgrounds and in Petersburg at 420 S. Seventh St. Tickets may be purchased for $10 the day of the garden walk at any of the garden sites. The money raised by this event will help support University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Master Gardener and horticulture programs. There are no refunds, and the walk will take place rain or shine.

For more information, call 217-782-4617 or visit www.extension.uiuc.edu/sangamonmenard/gardenwalk/index.html.

Beetlemania returns!

The summer invasion of the leaf-devouring half-inch-long eating machines known as Japanese beetles has begun.

Adult beetles feed on more than 300 species of plants, including such favorites as roses, lindens, grapes, birch, willow, apple, peaches, and raspberries. The beetles chew the leaf tissue between the veins, leaving a skeletonized leaf.

Adult Japanese beetles are a colorful metallic green with coppery brown wing covers. Adults most actively feed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on warm, sunny days.

The adults are attracted to other beetles and damaged leaves. Therefore, reducing feeding damage now can result in less damage later.

There are several options for controlling adult beetles.

• Try handpicking adult beetles in the early morning. Hold a bucket containing soapy water or rubbing alcohol below the infested leaves. Shake the plant or poke the beetles, and they will drop into the buckets.

• Heavily attacked ornamental plants can be sprayed with carbaryl (sold as Sevin), cyfluthrin (sold as Tempo, Bayer Advanced Garden Insect Killer), or other pyrethroid. Always read and follow label directions for safe use of pesticides.

Although beetle-infested plants may look devastated, the beetles rarely kill woody plants.

To learn more about Japanese beetles, view a photo or learn about control strategies for grubs, visit University of Wisconsin Extension, Japanese Beetle factsheet, at www.uwex.edu/ces/wihort/gardenfacts/X1062.pdf

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