Illinois Arboretum abuzz with pollinators

My wife and I spent part of the morning hiking around the Illinois Arboretum and were amazed at the number of pollinators buzzing and flitting from flower to flower. Zinnias, Sedum and Caryopteris seemed to be the drinks of choice for the bees and butterflies.

Here are a few that stayed still long enough for me to capture them with my lens.





My wife even did her impression of a pollinator when she spied Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’. Despite our two cups of coffee with breakfast, I think she was hoping the large cup-shaped leaves of this beautiful elephant ear were filled with dark roast instead of rainwater.

Luckily, the espresso machine was in working order when we returned home this afternoon. But I do think we’ll be adding this variety to the garden next spring.

Look closely for nature’s holiday decorations

I took advantage of yesterday’s warming to hike around the University of Illinois Arboretum on a bright, sunny morning. The open fields and woods were still covered in a few inches of snow from last week’s storms, although the increased temperatures has melted the snow from most of the trees and shrubs.

When taking the winter landscape as a whole, we often are subdued by its grey lifeless tones. But if we look close enough, we’ll notice that Mother Nature has her own way of decorating for the winter holidays.

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Window shopping for next year’s fall garden

After my failure to resist the lure of mums this fall, I set out on my lunch hour today to the U of I Arboretum to visit the Miles C. Hartley Selection Gardens and Champaign County Master Gardener Idea Garden. I was particularly interested in finding some annuals and perennials that were still performing well after a hot, droughty summer and a short string of cool autumn nights. If I was going to find some potential mum replacements for my fall garden, these two gardens would be a great place to start.

A great many plants, especially those in the trial gardens, were well past their summer prime. Many of the zinnias and petunias that were amazing in August were shriveled, diseased shadows of their former beauty. A few plants, however, earned themselves a potential spot in next year’s garden.

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A crabapple with pink fall color?

The overcast has rolled into Central Illinois, and the weather forecast promises a full week of grey skies and likely precipitation. But the thermometer at 3:30pm still stands at 64 degrees (F), a sign that our late-arriving Indian summer isn’t quite ready to relinquish us to the hounds of winter.

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