Ryan Pankau

Ryan Pankau

In the Garden | Illinois invaders

In our increasingly globalized society, invasive species have become somewhat of a way of life as we continuously intermix the world's biota. Plants and animals from other continents tend to find their way to our landscapes and often are here for good.

In the Garden | Take a walk in the woods this winter

Winter time is somewhat of a downtime for deciduous trees. After a growing season's worth of beautiful foliage, culminating in the wonderful fall display of color, woody plants enter the long, cold season of dormancy that is part of their annual life.

In the Garden | A super berry

It's hard to imagine a foodscape without blueberries. My family grows them, picks them, eats them fresh and freezes a good supply for the rest of the year.

Throughout winter, we regularly eat them in smoothies, pancakes and other baked goods. The fruits freeze well and keep for months in our deep freeze.

In the Garden | Breathing easier

The last thing any homeowner wants this time of year is a cold draft from the outdoors. We humans have become exceedingly good at sealing up all of our indoor spaces in the interest of trapping heat during the winter or cooled air during the summer.

In the Garden | Climate change and planting, Part III

The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released last fall in two volumes, containing information about how climate change is affecting the physical earth system across the U.S. and a detailed assessment of how those changes now, and in the future, will impact our country.

In the Garden | Climate change and planting, Part II

Last week, I reviewed the history of USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps and their relative change over recent time.

These maps are intended to be a guide for gardeners attempting to predict the potential for winter injury to plants, which is a key factor in establishment and successful cultivation of woody and herbaceous perennial plants.

In the Garden | Climate change and planting, Part I

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are a standard that most gardeners consider when selecting plants suitable for their local climate. These maps show us the mean annual low temperature for a given location, which helps distinguish the relative cold hardiness of plants, insects and other biota.

In the Garden | Nourishing knowledge in winter

If you are a plant lover, wintertime can often be quite a bit of a downtick when it comes to gardening activities. For me, it's a time to focus on my houseplants for a change, a time to plan out my gardening exploits for the coming year, a time to reflect on what did and what didn't work in our garden last year.

In the Garden | Poinsettias: A holiday favorite

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are the most popular holiday plant in U.S. households. It is estimated that more than 30 million are sold each year around the holiday season, accounting for about one quarter of all flowering houseplants sold in the U.S., year-round. That is a staggering statistic, making it the highest-selling potted plant nationwide.

In the Garden | Fresh ideas for Christmas trees

Everyone has their own idea of the perfect Christmas tree. While I am not a person who picks the proverbial "Charlie Brown Tree," I have certainly felt pity for the less-attractive trees on the lot in years past.