Sandra Mason: Steer clear of icebergs

To my palate, iceberg lettuce is as flavorful as a Red Delicious apple. True to its iceberg name, it has a lot of crunch but not a lot of flavor.

Sandra Mason: Early risers

Like a sun-parched desert traveler searching for water, we are all craving the colors of spring and the green of new life in our gardens. Fortunately, some spring flowering bulbs are early risers as our landscapes awaken from a long winter's nap.

Sandra Mason: Spring into action

A few warm, sunny days recharge my batteries and my motivation to move. Rising spring temperatures fuel our desire to do something in the garden. So get out your pen and pruners for your spring to-do list.

Last frost date

Sandra Mason: Learn to love your landscape

Every time I look out the window, I dream of green and then gorge myself on tantalizing images of flowers and fruits in magazines and catalogs. Glorious gardens immersed in the picture-perfect light of dawn shine in garden magazines.

Of course, out of frame is the butterfly bush that was crushed by the basketball as the kids were playing one-on-one.

Sandra Mason: The perfect indoor garden

Temperature downswings and snow upswings mark the perfect time to undertake indoor garden projects. Recently, University of Illinois Extension staff, Master Gardeners and Veterans Affairs workers presented a hands-on workshop for veterans at the VA medical facility in Danville on the perfect indoor garden — a terrarium.

Sandra Mason: Proper pruning

Rolls can be good and bad. Sprinkled with cinnamon — good. Sprinkled with kitty litter — bad. Rolls are fun in a kayak. Not so fun in a car. Rolls over your waistband — bad. Rolls over a tree branch wound — good.

Sandra Mason: A list of love-ly plants

Plant lists can read like a dime store novel: love-in-a-mist, love-in-a-puff, lovage and even love grass. Some names such as heartleaf make sense as they describe attributes of the plant, but other names such as love-lies-bleeding are wrapped in folklore.

In honor of Valentine's Day, here are a few plants for the passionate gardener:

Sandra Mason: Respect the soil

I admit it. I'm a soil snob. I see the sandy soils of Florida or the red clay soils of Georgia, and I think, "Really, you call that soil?" I have the kind of soil snobbery that comes from rich, thick, black Illinois soil born from glaciers and prairies past.

The language of flowers

Ever wonder why red roses are the symbol of Valentine's Day? Why not white or yellow?

The reason lies in the language of flowers. This does not include the language we use after the bunnies have eaten the flowers. It's the delicate, subtle meanings given to flowers in order to elicit emotion in the receiver.

Community garden could be on way in Monticello

MONTICELLO — The city and the University of Illinois Extension are working together to bring a community garden to Monticello.