In the Garden | Getting burned | Gardening

We all have our favorite landscape plants, many of which have made our lists from years of tried-and-true performance in the landscape and a preferred ornamental presence.

It is always disheartening to hear that a favorite plant has problems that may warrant removal from the proverbial list. It’s even worse to learn that one of your go-to plants is now on the list of insidious, nonnative species that have become invasive in Illinois.

For me, burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is one of those plants. It’s now been well over a decade since I came to understand its invasive character, but it was a heartbreaking realization. I even had to see it for myself in the field before I would believe it.

Other than invasiveness, what’s not to love about burning bush? It has spectacular fall color, interesting twig character in winter and provides an entire growing season of medium-textured, green foliage. To top it off, it’s accepting of a wide range of site conditions and tolerates about any pruning regime a person could dream up.

However, this plant’s invasive habits far outweigh the benefits of planting it. It has the ability to invade forested ecosystems and crowd out native plants. In the right location, it can utterly dominate the understory. In the past, I’ve noticed it invading areas across southern Illinois and have seen it spreading in our area as well.

It tends to flourish in the urban-rural interface where there is enough unmowed and maintained area that seed from urban plants can become established. I live in a rural area near Monticello, and this plant is becoming a larger problem in my “neighborhood.” While burning bush cannot boast the overall shade tolerance of an invasive like bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), it is becoming a close second in my neck of the woods.

Recently, a native plant of growing landscape interest has caught my eye as a potential replacement for burning bush, from an ornamental standpoint. Eastern wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) is a native Illinois shrub in the same genus as burning bush.

As you might imagine, it has somewhat similar traits, boasting a nearly equal display of splendid fall color, along with a really interesting and showy fruit capsule. Beyond ornamental appeal, who wouldn’t love it simply for the fun name?

For decades, I have observed this plant in woodlands across Illinois, but never considered it in a landscape setting. In recent years, I have noticed it in several urban plantings and really admired its beauty along with the fond memories of the natural world it harbors. While it remains somewhat rare at nurseries, it is in cultivation and can be sourced at nurseries specializing in native plants.

Wahoo has very similar leaves and fall color to burning bush, but does get larger at maturity. It can reach up to 20 feet in height, so some classify this plant as a small tree rather than a shrub. However, it serves as a good replacement for burning bush in locations that

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Four people injured, three homes burned in Manfield Street, Springfield house fire

Four people were transported to the hospital after the house they lived in was destroyed by fire Saturday afternoon. Several adjacent structures and several vehicles were damaged by the heat of the fire.

Springfield Fire Department spokesperson, Capt. Drew Piemonte said seven people were in the house at 30 Mansfield St. when fire was discovered at about 12:25 p.m. All were able to escape the burning building but not before several were hurt. Four were transported to the Baystate Medical Center with what Piemonte described as “non-life-threatening” injuries.

Firefighters said the house was “fully involved” in flames when the first units arrived and thick, black smoke obscured the scene as firefighters poured water on the burning two-and-a-half-story, single-family home.

The house at 28 Mansfield St. next to the primary fire scene sustained heat damage to the vinyl siding closest to the burning building. Smoke could be seen coming from under the eaves of the house until firefighters were able to get into the attic and take care of any extension.

The family living in that home, along with the occupants of 30 Mansfield and 18-20 Mansfield St. are all being aided by the Red Cross.

As some firefighters continued to spray both houses, others carried a cage apparently containing three guinea pigs from the smoking house. All three of the animals seemed unharmed. However, one dog died in the fire.

On the other side of the primary scene, the home at 18-20 Mansfield St. was checked for fire, but firefighters apparently found none. The owner of the property said all six people in the house were able to get out when fire was discovered next door.

A car parked on the street in front of the destroyed home also burned, apparently set ablaze by the heat of the burning building. Firefighters had to dodge the flames from the burning car as they attacked the structure fire. Several other vehicles were damaged by the heat, Piemonte said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Springfield Arson and Bomb Unit.

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