Greetings Friends,

Welcome to May! This is go-time for folks in the green industry. We've decided to forego a plant of the month and bring you our 2017 Spring Draft Picks. 7 Rounds, 7 Plants. These picks are fresh on the market, flooding garden centers and nurseries trying to make a name for themselves in landscaping. Like the NFL, those who get to choose first have the best selection.

We've made an exciting change to our annual native plant sale, to benefit local Wild Ones chapters. The sale has been reformatted to the entire month of June! Present your Wild Ones Membership Card at our Menomonee Falls Retail Office at the time of purchase to receive your discount. Not a member? Scroll down to learn more about the sale and how to become a Wild One!

And don't forget: Mother's Day is this weekend.
Thank you for reading.

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June is Wisconsin Native Plant Appreciation
Month  at Johnson's Nursery

Johnson's Nursery, Inc., in support of area Wild Ones chapters,  is happy to announce that June is Wisconsin Native Plant Appreciation Month.

"Any day during the month of June, all active Wild Ones Members need only present their valid membership card at our Menomonee Falls headquarters to receive a 40% discount off all container grown Wisconsin native plant material."

Proceeds go to the Milwaukee-area Wild Ones Chapters.  Visit our website for complete sale details. Not a member? Get signed up before you shop. Wild Ones membership may be obtained via
by Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist/Landscape Designer
Tulip blooms dotting the landscape aren't the only sign that spring has arrived. Football fans eagerly watch to see who their favorite teams will acquire to create a winning line up in fall. These players are fresh out of college teams, full of hope, skill, waiting to be tested in the real world. This process reminds me a lot of the new plant varieties flooding garden centers. "Ooohh, that one is tempting, but will it do well in my yard? Is it worth the high price point, just for its newness? Will it become aggressive or not survive at all?"
I've created my own list of 7 Plant Draft Picks. Newbies that show promise and cause my horticulture heart to flutter.
Round 1 Draft Pick: Storm Cloud Amsonia
Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Storm Cloud'

I love Willowleaf Amsonia. Its airy green leaves provide a great texture in the garden and can be used in a grouping or as an accent, due to its shrub-like proportions. What I don't like is how readily it reseeds in the garden if you don't cut it down before the pods burst. Also, it has rather short-lived spring color. 'Storm Cloud' might be a game changer. In spring, new stems emerge almost black with silver-veined green leaves. The light blue flowers are a stunning contrast with the smoky stems and, supposedly, has an extended bloom time.

Round 2 Draft Pick: 'Sun King' Aralia
Aralia cordata  'Sun King'

Aralia cordata is also known as Japanese Spikenard (we have a native version that is great for dry shade Aralia racemosa). In Japan, young aralia shoots are a culinary treat, said to taste like asparagus (could find no info on if it has the same effect on urine). However, the new variety Sun King, I wouldn't waste on the dinner plate. The golden leaves might be just what I need to brighten the narrow, shade garden on the side of the house. 

Round 3 Draft Pick: Lemony Lace™ Elderberry
Sambucus racemosa  'SMNSRD4' PPAF

I'm also excited about this yellow version of Elderberry. In the past, I was underwhelmed with an older, larger version called 'Sutherland Gold'. I thought it never looked as good in person as in photos. Plus I'm not willing to give up so much space in my yard to an Elderberry. Lemony Lace™ would be perfect in a corner that gets morning sun. The large clusters of white flowers emerge in early spring, before the finely dissected bright yellow foliage, edged in red. The bright foliage ages to an attractive chartreuse. The bright red berries in fall attracts birds and wildlife.

Round 4 Draft Pick: Yuki Cherry Blossom™ Deutzia
Deutzia x 'NCDX2' PPAF

Nikko Slender Deutzia has been around for a while, a real showstopper when the pearl-like white buds open to star-shaped flowers. Yuki Cherry Blossom™ has emerged on the scene as a dwarf alternative with deep pink buds that open to masses of pale pink flowers. It has the same willow-like foliage that turns a deep burgundy-purple in fall. Could be a nice option under low windows. However, unless they have also bred repellent qualities into the shrub, I'm assuming that I'll still need to spray it to keep the rabbits away. 

Round 5 Draft Pick: Low Scape® Mound Chokeberry
Aronia melanocarpa  'UCONNAM165' PPAF

Gro-Low Sumac has been an MVP, by default, for a shrubby groundcover to stabilize slopes and it is used in almost every mall parking island. But until it turns bright red in fall, I don't think Gro-Low is very interesting. The University of Connecticut has introduced a tempting alternative. Adaptable from moist to dry soils, it has the same white flowers of native Black Chokeberry, followed by the same blue-black fruit (loved by birds) and brilliant red fall color. The only downside I anticipate from this plant is that the rabbits will probably chew on it over winter. But that could also be a benefit- consider it as "natural pruning". As I write this, we expect Low Scape® to arrive in late July, so if you are interested, definitely reserve them!

Round 6 Draft Pick: Pink Sparkler™ Spirea
Spiraea betulifolia  'COURISPI01' PPAF

Tor Birchleaf Spirea is one of my favorite shrubs. I only wish it bloomed longer, and maybe came in another color. Pink Sparkler™ Spirea is Tor's flamboyant new sister. Though a little larger than Tor, Pink Sparkler™ has a natural rounded shape that requires little pruning and great burgundy fall color. An introduction from the Bailey Nursery First Editions® program, she breaks the mold with masses of early summer pink flowers, then re-blooms in the fall, with smaller-sized flowers.

Round 7 Draft Pick: Full Moon Coreopsis
Coreopsis  'Full Moon' PP19,364

Zagreb Coreopsis is an old, trusted perennial for a sunny garden. Able to withstand hot, dry conditions, it will happily spread to fill whatever space you allow. But the gold flowers can be a bit too bright. In 1992, the spin-off variety 'Moonbeam', with soft yellow blooms that were touted to last for months, was named the "Perennial of the Year". People went nuts for it, pounding down the doors of garden centers, foaming at the mouth, like werewolves. Alas, reality did not live up to the hype and 'Moonbeam' was a dud. It lacked vigor and rarely survived the winter. But like a phoenix, a new 'Full Moon' is rising, sure to excite the werewolves again. Full Moon Coreopsis could be worth the hype of its older counterpart. It is said, the 3" flowers are held aloft on strong stems and will bloom from summer into early fall. Is it another myth? A marketing ploy? Only time will tell.

Like the NFL Draft, those who get to choose first have the best selection. Since these are all new plant varieties, availability will be limited and I highly recommend calling ahead to see if the plants are in stock, or better yet, reserve the plants in advance. I did. Gardening isn't a game, people. It's survival of the fittest- only the strong plants will survive. It's competitive- who hasn't bragged to a fellow gardener about having something they don't? It's not a hobby, it's a way of life. If you cut me, I bleed green. Go Team!

Did you know that on the lunar calendar, today, May 10th, is known as the "Full Flower Moon"? At our nursery in Menomonee Falls, at 4:43 p.m. the Sun, Earth, and Moon will align. It won't be visible right away, hanging out below the horizon, but if we don't have cloud cover, it will light up the night sky, and last for a couple days.

Native Americans used the moon cycles to track time and the seasons and would ascribe descriptive names to each full moon, a technique also adapted by early American Colonists. The Full Flower Moon is called such, because when the large orb is in the night sky in the month of May, spring flowers will be at their most abundant. Sometimes it is also referred to as Corn Planting Moon (pretty self-explanatory) or the Milk Moon (Cows start producing more milk this time of year, but since Native Americans didn't have cows, most like it refers to when the Milkweeds come out of dormancy).
According to The Old Farmers Almanac:
"Clothes washed for the first time in the Full Moon will not last long."
Super! Don't do laundry this week.

-- AND --

"The Full Moon is an ideal time to accept a proposal of marriage." Congratulations! If you miss your chance this month, try next month,
on June 9th when there will be the Full Strawberry Moon.
( source)

Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration: 1:53

Officially, the calendar says March 20th is the Vernal Equinox and the first day of spring. But in Wisconsin, where a snowstorm might still be around the corner, I know that spring isn't official until I see certain signs every year...Learn More
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 0:59

To preserve a plants attributes, they are vegetatively reproduced, perhaps by cuttings or root divisions.  These plants are called "cultivars", like idential twins...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
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 1:20

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 4:20

You can still have feeders with seeds, nuts, and fruit to bring the birds closer to viewing areas, but in spring and summer, most birds prefer a more carnivorous diet... Learn more
from The Dirt with Carrie Hennessy
Duration 5:30

Gardens and landscapes follow what is fashionable, just like clothing trends.  "What is a native plant?" A plant is  considered to be native, or indigenous, to a region if... Learn more
Watch all of our plant and landscaping videos on our YouTube channel. We invite you to visit and subscribe.
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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