Author Archives: iltvignocchi

Why we do it…50 years and still going

ILT is in our fist week of the season. Each morning we are greeted at 6 am by new and old faces clad in ILT orange, busy preparing for their day.

The parking lot is a calculated maze of trucks and trailers weaving about gathering the materials they will need for the day.

It is a routine that has been taking place for 50 years, and although things have changed I’m still moved by the sight of it.

So many people who are so dedicated to the work.  So many that are ultimately trying to do what most people are striving for…putting away a nest egg, sending children to college, and overall bettering their lives.

I’m fiercely protective of my team because I want to do what my dad has set a standard for before me…respect the hard workers so they can live out their dreams.

Happy Spring Everyone.

Donna Vignocchi Zych

What is Scilla?

What is Scilla?

We have probably all marveled at the beautiful fields of blue that pop up around this time of year.  Customers ask me all the time in wonderment, “What is that?!”

Scilla is a member of the lily family.  Most varieties bloom in spring whereas a few are fall bloomers.  It is coveted for it naturalizing tendencies.  So year after year they will slowly multiply to form that lovely blanket of blue.  I always warn that they aren’t for the faint of heart.  These are a true gardeners plant.  As seen below, if they love their home they can take over.

 

A mass of ScillaThey like full sun locations with well drained soil.  Plant them en masse for the best show.  you can even pair them with a Tete e Tete daffodil, which is a lovely dwarf variety in a creamy yellow.  Once they are done blooming, they are similar to other bulbs and do best if you let the leaves wilt.  Other plants like ferns and hosta can be used to help mask the withering leaves as they come up as the scilla is nearing the end of its season.

See how tiny the Scilla bulbs are?Once the Scilla have put on their show they disappear completely, back into dormancy for their next display the following year.  If you have never noticed this unique plant, take the time to look around…you won’t forget it once you see it.

Corporate Woods, Vernon Hills, IL

Benefits of a Spring Clean Up

A spring clean up for the inside of your home can mean different things to different people.  To some it is as light as cleaning off the patio and the grill and to those Martha Stewart enthusiasts it can be so so much more…washing curtains, emptying cabinets and giving them a thorough wash and possibly even power washing the roof.  Everyone’s need are different.

The same can be said for a landscape but there are some things that absolutely need to be accomplished.  First removing any branches, sticks and leaves from the property.  Doing a good fall clean up can help make this an easier task, but it still needs to be done.

You also want to cut back any Hydrangeas, grasses or perennials that were left in tact for winter interest to make room for new growth.

 

 

At this time we also like to cultivate, edge and fertilize the beds with a product that also contains pre-emergent (to help keep down those nasty weeds).  This function can prove difficult in Spring and sometimes needs to be chipped away it because of Spring’s wet conditions.

Next is turf.  It is important to be gentle with turf in Spring, again those wet conditions can make situations worse by tearing it.  That being said we rake wherever possible to pull up dead grass and snow mold, then topdress with a combination of grass seed and peat moss.

Activating your irrigation system is equally important, making any necessary adjustments.  But we tend to turn systems off when turned on in early Spring.  Running them only aggravates already wet conditions, which can encourage turf fungus and other problems.

Once all of that is complete and all your hardsurface areas are cleaned and tidy, your landscape is ready for the season.

50 Years of Stories – Hooks Nursery

The Uniqueness of Plants

Bill MacReynolds, owner of Hooks Nursery, was pivotal in my career. At the time he was acknowledged as one of the best growers and nurserymen in the business.He was always leery of academics in the field of horticulture and landscape architecture, and me being neither, he guided me through the true ins and outs of plant selection.

One of his greatest joys was informing headstrong idealists who spent hours combing his fields for the perfect specimen that it was already sold.He once told me, “Harry, if you were to remove what you thought was the best tree in this row, logically wouldn’t there be another that would stand out as a specimen?” “Of course,” I replied, not wanting to upset my mentor.

He responded, “Well that’s why I save the best trees for people like you, because you understand the beauty in all plants. Every one is unique and has value.”

I’ve always remembered that, and tried to impart that wisdom on others. Finding beauty in everything has been a philosophy that has served me well.

Harry Vignocchi