Greetings Friends,

Happy Autumn! Welcome to fall harvest at Johnson's Nursery. Many homeowners are harvesting their gardens and preparing their lawns and landscapes for winter. Here at Johnson's Nursery we are preparing to harvest hundreds of acres of trees. We invite you to look at take at our harvest schedule.

Many people slow down work in the landscape as fall arrives, but fall is a terrific time to plant. Perennials may be safely planted through October with plenty of time to root in before the frost, and deciduous trees may be safely planted until the ground freezes. Watch our video below. The cooler temperatures of autumn make outdoor exercise tolerable. And pro tip - chop up leaves with your lawn mower and scatter them over your lawn, landscape beds, and gardens. It's free compost, and leaves are abundant in autumn!
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by Carrie Hennessy, Landscape Designer
There is more going on with autumn leaves besides the color changes of yellow, orange, and red. September is when fungal spotting has reached its peak, causing many of your favorite plants to defoliate or go dormant early.

See, in spring, fungal spores are everywhere, dancing and flying around, looking for an unsuspecting host to land on. This is why it's so important to prune your trees late in the season or when they are dormant. Fresh cuts on a tree are like blabbing the password to a private party and the fungi can easily enter and start trashing the place. This year, I've noticed that fungal issues are particularly bad. A cool, wet, prolonged spring, followed by a mild, humid summer is the perfect invitation for fungi.

Photo Credit: University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Common fungal victims are crabapple trees, which are prone to apple scab (see above). Some of the most susceptible varieties are the ones with bright magenta flowers in spring, like Profusion and Prairifire. They put on a gorgeous display of blooms, leaf out nicely with purplish-green leaves, then by mid-August, the leaves start to yellow and drop, until they are nearly bare when September rolls around. Then the cycle repeats itself next year. Generally, white-flowering crabapples like Firebird and Adirondak, tend to have more resistance (though not always- fruitless Spring Snow is one of the worst options). If you want something a little showier, Royal Raindrops is a superior alternative with purple leaves and magenta flowers.

Photo Credit: Morton Arboretum
Rust is another fungus to watch out for, which can affect anything in the Malus genus as well as Hawthorns (Crataegus). Trees first show the effects of rust with yellow spots on the leaves in spring. As the disease matures, the spots turn orange and create visible elongated lesions on the leaves, fruit, and stems. Rust is actually a very interesting disease. It needs a date at the party, Red Cedar (Juniperus virgiana or J. scopulorum), to complete the life cycle. You will notice chocolate-colored "galls" that sit dormant on the evergreen host until conditions are just right in spring. Then the galls burst with what looks like fingers of orange Jell-O (actually called telial horns) which propel billions of fungal spores into the air, looking for a tree to infect. By September, you will have lost most of the leaves and, if you were trying to grow edible apples, your crop will most likely be deformed. I always suggest staying away from native juniper trees if you want to grow apples, crabapples, or hawthorns without doing fungicide applications. We say trees, because the shrub forms don't harbor the disease - Juniperus communis and J. horizontalis are ok. Or you can plant Asian Juniper species, Juniperus chinensis, which don't have the same co-dependent, dysfunctional relationship with those ornamental trees.

Photo Credit: University of Minnesota Extension
Perennials and shrubs aren't immune to fungal problems either. Leaves of Goldsturm Rudbeckia and Red Twig Dogwoods can end up mostly black with spots by the end of summer. Tall Garden Phlox and Ninebarks will often be covered with powdery mildew (especially if they are not in a full sun location). By the time you notice the black spots or the leaves covered in white, you can't get rid of the disease, but spraying fungicides can keep it from getting worse. As with any fungal problem, spring prevention works best. If spring is a wild party, then fungicides are the bouncer that keeps the party crasher, "Fun Gus" (who isn't such a "fun guy", Ha Ha) from getting in the door. If you don't pay attention, fungi will take over and give your plants a wicked hangover in the fall.

Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Little Goldstar' PP22,397

When Black-eyed Susans (aka Rudbeckias) are in full bloom across Wisconsin in yards, prairies, and fields, we know that kids will be heading back to school. While teachers and students are stocking up on supplies, pollinator insects are visiting Black-eyed Susans to get stocked up on nectar.

Rudbeckias are a long time favorite of landscape designers, but the most common variety 'Goldsturm' isn't very well-behaved and deserves a detention. By the end of summer, the large leaves of Goldsturm are barely green anymore, covered in black fungal spots spot and the plants often get greedy and take over your beds within a few years. Luckily, there is an improved variety available, 'Little Goldstar'. Little Goldstar is loved by butterflies and birds, just like the other kinds of Rudbeckia, but is also very disease-resistant, petite, and doesn't flop over. It's a cheerful, hardworking plant that deserves a spot in the head of the class (also known as the front of your garden beds), where they can soak up sun for a least half the day.

Photo Credit: Ball Seed

Rudbeckias are in the same family as Sunflowers, but this particular genus is unique to North America. There are many different species and subspecies ( hirta, fulgida, lacinata, nitida, subtomentosa) that have a range throughout the United States and Canada. The dark-eyed beauties with cheerful yellow collars must have been quite the surprise for the early colonists, especially the more puritanical settlers. It was the English who gave these flowers the moniker "Susan", though why that particular name won out is unclear.

An Old English poet, John Gay (1685-1732) wrote the ballad "Sweet William's Farewell to Black-eyed Susan" in the early 18th century. The first stanza goes:

"All in the Downs the fleet was moored,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard;
Oh, where shall I my true love find!
Tell me, jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William sails among the crew"

So this girl with dark eyes, named, Susan, is looking for her sailor, Sweet William. The poem continues for several more stanza, with William rushing to her side with kisses and assurances of his faithfulness and love, that she shouldn't believe the stories of sailors with mistresses in every port.

"Though battle call me from thy arms,
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms,
William shall to his dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye."

One could also explain the poem in this way: Sweet William is a common English garden plant. Black-eyed Susan is part of the new world. Planted together, they bloom at the same time in the garden, and though Sweet William plants may not survive the winter, they seeds will sprout and join Susan again the following summer. 

"Master at the Prairie" Wisconsin Master Gardener
Association State Conference 2017

Come to the 2017 WIMGA State Conference and see Carrie Hennessy of Johnson's Nursery & Zannah Crowe of Johnson's Gardens. The event is hosted locally this year in West Bend, WI! The conference will begin on Friday night October 13, and there will be a full day presentations (including Carrie's & Zannah's) on Saturday, October 14. This is a must do for any Milwaukee-area gardener!

Deer 'Resistant' Landscapes
with Carrie Hennessy
Gardening for Pollinators
with Zannah Crowe

from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 0:52

Is it too late to plant?  The answer? Not at all.  But it is a good idea to get perennials and evergreens in the ground by mid-October....Learn more
from The Dirt with Carrie Hennessy
Duration 4:20

Autumn in Wisconsin is a special time. Roadsides are painted in orange, red, and yellow. The air smells crisp and it's time to get out the sweaters... Learn more
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 0:51

To commemorate your joyous occasion, we would like to offer your family a discount. The plant
will grow alongside your little one and, like your child, has been raised locally.... Learn more
from The Dirt with Carrie Hennessy
Duration 3:17

Spring is a great time to install fresh bark mulch in your landscape beds, before the perennials emerge. Johnson's Nursery carries several options of premium bark mulch... Learn more
from The Dirt with Carrie Hennessy
Duration 4:54

Did you know the phrase "the bee's knees" originally described something tiny and insignificant?  Since then it has evolved to mean something outstanding... Learn more
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Do You Like To DIY?
We Plan-You Plant offers the guidance of our experts, who will use information gathered from you to create a professional landscape design--at no cost--when you purchase your plants at Johnson's Nursery.

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Recycle Your Plant Pots/Trays
If you throw certain landscape plastics (i.e #2, #5, #6) in the trash, they will sit in the landfill and will not get recycled. You can return them to us--for free--all year long. Act locally, think globally. Recycle.

Expanding Your Family Tree?
Have you had a baby recently? Let us extend congratulations by offering you a 25% discount on any plant of your choosing. Like your child, our plants are raised locally and will grow strong.

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Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
W180 N6275 Marcy Road. Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 ( map)
p. 262.252.4988