Greetings Friends,

Thank you for returning to Johnson's Nursery for another year of the Leaf in Brief. Welcome to 2017!

Per tradition, the Color of the Year is the feature article for January. This year is a nice tribute to "Greenery", a color that rarely gets the attention it deserves. The Plant of the Month is Ironwood. And, in the spirit of Greenery, the Leaf Lore investigates Greensleeves.  

Our Plant Reference Guide has been updated with brand new plants, introductions, and content! Widely used by plant professionals, this guide serves as a road map to our locally grown plants. It is currently available in digital format. See the guides section.
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I think we can all agree that 2016 was a hell of a year. An unprecedented presidential election. Syria. Brangelina Split. Zika Virus. Brexit. Prince died. Russia. McDonalds now serves all day breakfast. RIP Princess Leia. 2016 was pretty tumultuous for me on a personal level, too. My husband and I bought a house (Yay!), we had to put down my aged cat (Heart Broken!), and we welcomed a son (Big Surprise!). We are hoping that 2017 will contain less upheaval as we adjust to these changes. I need something to keep me energized and up for the challenge of juggling a demanding career with motherhood (besides bourbon).

When I saw that Greenery was selected by Pantone Color Institute as the color for 2017, I thought it was perfect. I've been incorporating that shade into my life for a long time. It's in the kitchen clock I received for Christmas. It's in the beads of a favorite necklace. It's in the branch of Norway Maple I brought inside to enjoy the forced buds with chartreuse flowers. Pantone describes Greenery as "a refreshing and revitalizing shade...symbolic of new beginnings." It's the color of spring, the bright yellow-green that wakes us up from the winter doldrums. Greenery is life, energy, and vitality.

In an interview with FORBES magazine, Pantone Color Institute's vice president, Laura Pressman said, " There's a growing desire to reconnect with Nature and what is real, and find ways to disconnect from technology. We need a break. We need to stop and breathe... (Greenery) is about unity and community-connecting to oneself and others and a higher purpose, Nature. Nature is free, and the color isn't meant to be partisan ". I love that sentiment. I'm surrounded by plants and nature, but tethered to my phone and email, forgetting the reasons why I chose this industry for my career. If there isn't a rose nearby to smell, there is a myriad of trees, shrubs, and flowers to make me pause. I need to pause more. Especially with a baby, because he is changing and growing every day.

Alas, shades of green are often overlooked in the landscape. Green and white are the neutral colors that tie everything together, yet rarely get to stand out on their own merits. When I'm meeting with a client about a landscape design, one of my standard questions is, what colors do they prefer? Rarely does someone respond with green. Greenery is everywhere but often overlooked. It is the canvas that allows the other plants to shine. If there was no green, the landscape would be a chaotic clash of colors. I grew up in Green County, Wisconsin, with hills of rolling fields, farmland, and forests. Such a lush backdrop transformed the purple clover on the roadside into amethysts, dandelions into orbs of gold, waves of blue scilla bulbs into a sea of sapphire.

Speaking of gemstones, did you know the August birthstone is Peridot? The sparkling yellow-green gem is the perfect representation of Greenery. Ancient Egyptians called Peridot the "gem of the sun" because of how it sparkled and their priests used the stone to harness the power of nature. August also happens to be when my son, Jack, was born. It would seem that all signs suggest I invest in a new piece of jewelry. 2017 is off to a good start!
PLANT OF THE MONTH plantofmonth
Ironwood - Ostrya virginiana

Ironwood is often a victim of mistaken identity. It is also referred to as Hop-hornbeam because the similarity of the fruit to hops vine. But it is commonly confused with its cousin, Musclewood, ( Carpinus caroliniana) also called Hornbeam.

You'll find Ironwoods happily growing in the drier, high slopes of a deciduous forest, though they are quite able to adapt to a full sun location in your yard. It's a small-statured, slow-growing tree and, though it has the appearance of very delicate branching, is quite strong and able to withstand ice storms with minimal damage (but it does not tolerate salt). In spring, the bright, birch-like young leaves peeking from tight buds can best be described as "Greenery" that au courant shade of yellow-green.

My son, Jack, like most babies, loves to be sung to. Some of his favorite tunes are "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", and "Folsom Prison Blues". But over the holidays, he was all about Christmas carols. I found "Santa Baby" to be the best distraction during a diaper change, while the soothing "What Child Is This" was part of our bedtime routine. However, I've always been curious why the latter tune has another set of lyrics under the title Greensleeves. Why does a carol written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 have the same melody as a song you hear at Renaissance Fairs, while chowing down on a giant turkey leg? In light of our "Greenery Theme" this month, it seemed worth investigating.

The melody is a "broadside ballad". After the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, narrative verses could be mass produced on paper (aka broadsides) and sold in public places, often sharing a commonly recognizable tune.

Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously;
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in your company.
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

This sample of verse and chorus tells us a story of unrequited love, that of the author for his Lady Greensleeves (additional verses reveal that no matter of gifts and favors could secure her affections for the poor bloke). The song became so popular that even Shakespeare made reference in The Merry Wives of Windsor when Falstaff begs, 'Let the sky rain potatoes! Let it thunder to the tune of Greensleeves!'

But who was Lady Greensleeves?  Who was the inspiration for the lyrics?

First publication of the song can be traced to 1580, during the Tudor period in England. A common origin story is that King Henry VIII wrote it for Anne Boleyn during their more than two year courtship, since all attempts to lure her to his bedchamber were for naught until he "put a ring on it" (first requiring Henry to get an annulment from his wife who he then referred to as his sister because she was originally the widow of his brother...Days of Our Lives has nothing on King Henry). But the timeline for this explanation doesn't quite fit, since their romance played out 50 years before there is record of the song being published.

Or it could be that Greensleeves was a term for a loose woman, because her wanton behavior resulted in grass stains on her dress, and why would a lady settle on just one man when she could have them all, especially if he kept buying her gifts?  Historians prefer a different explanation. During the Tudor era, it was common for sleeves to be detachable from a dress, the color described in the song being very significant. Her sleeves may actually refer to the Lady being pious and chaste, with eyes only for God, because green was used to depict chastity in the saints of Renaissance paintings. As Whoopi Goldberg and the nuns sang in Sister Act, "Nothing you could say could tear me away from my God...Nothing you could buy could make me tell a lie to my God" (that movie has so many levels!).

Whoever Lady Greensleeves was, whether a symbol or a pseudonym, she will continue to live on through Renaissance Fairs, theater productions, and when I need to get a baby to sleep.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 0:51

We offer 25% off the retail price of any plant, whether a perennial, shrub, or tree to commemorate your bundle of joy.  Baby and tree will grow up together... Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
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Contrary to what you might have heard, it is important after a heavy, wet  snowfall to remove what has accumulated on certain plants like arborvitaes, boxwoods, and pines... Learn more .
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Carrie shows you some of her favorites to transform a boring landscape. She discusses dogwood, Carya, St. Johns Wort, viburnum, Autumn Moor, Little Bluestem... Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
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Certain plants in your landscape may be too temping for deer or rodents to ignore over the winter. If you don't like the look of wire cages in your yard, there are alternatives... Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
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Learn how to protect your trees from buck rub. The trees in your yard are an investment. Do you have deer roaming through your area? Protect your trees by using these techniques... Learn more.
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NEW! The Plant Reference Guide on the far right.

Select any of these resources and visit our website to find more videos, information, and downloadable content.

*Hard copies are available in-store for purchase.
Reserve Spring Plants for Gifts
Looking for a gift for the plant lover in your life? Maybe you know someone who needs to renovate the beds around their house. Or maybe you want to give a tree to commemorate a birth or marriage, or as a memorial. Gift cards are great and convenient, but sometimes you want a more personalized option. You can purchase plants for a loved one now, and we will reserve them until spring, whether they are to be picked up, delivered, or installed. We will also print out information cards on the plants(s) so you have something tangible to wrap.

Learn More 

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.

Learn More 

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.

Visit our archive to read previous issues of The Leaf in Brief.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve and provide you with quality nursery stock.


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