Ryan Pankau

Ryan Pankau

In the Garden | Idea Garden at UI getting picked over

Since its beginnings in 1997, the Idea Garden has been maintained by the Champaign County Master Gardeners and ever-improved throughout the years. This beautiful yet educational community garden has grown to occupy more than 15,000 square feet of the University of Illinois Arboretum, near the corner of Lincoln and Florida avenues in Urbana.

In the Garden | Identifying a common outdoor enemy

Among the plants that grow in the Illinois landscape, poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is perhaps the most notorious. This plant is certainly well known by name among most gardeners, naturegoers and outdoor folks, but many are unable to identify it correctly in the field.

In the Garden | Natural approach to lawn care in spotlight

During the growing season, questions about lawn or turf care are quite common at the Champaign County Extension office. Among the many questions we receive, there is growing interest in natural or more sustainable lawn-care practices.

In the Garden | Douglas Discovery Garden is Danville's gem

The Douglas Discovery Garden is an outstanding gem of Vermilion County and the Danville area. It offers a wide variety of gardening applications for area residents to observe and learn from, so they can apply these practices in their own gardens.

The beautiful space also has an interesting history of learning behind it, or some may say underneath it.

In the Garden | Aggravating black walnuts have redeeming qualities

Anyone with a mature black walnut (Juglans nigra) tree on their property is likely aware that fruits are ripe now, and the baseball-sized green bombs are beginning to fall with each slight gust of wind or, at times, seemingly at random.

In the Garden | Vegetable-garden harvesting do's and don'ts

Harvesting vegetables from your garden can sometimes be tricky. Each individual crop has specific considerations for harvesting the best-tasting and most long-lasting produce.

In the Garden | Landscaping with blueberries

Landscaping with edible plants is my second-favorite gardening theme, next to "going native." Today, there are a wide variety of plants available that will not only provide your family food but also offer many other desirable attributes. In addition, it reduces your footprint by growing some of your own local food.

In the Garden | Try going native

Native plants offer a whole suite of ecosystems services that are often taken for granted.

In the Garden | Shedding light on bark loss

Our native sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) is known for its extraordinary exfoliating bark that peels off to expose the beautiful creamy white and greenish colors beneath, creating a camouflage-like appearance.

This summer, many area sycamores are shedding bark at alarming rates, which has prompted folks to question the health of their trees.

In the Garden | Supporting the monarchs

The iconic monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has become somewhat of a poster child for the plight that many pollinators face, and for good reason. Monarch populations have experienced drastic declines in recent years for a variety of reasons, some of which researchers are still trying to explain.