Season's Greetings Friends!
It may be December, but we bet some of you are counting the days until spring when you can be in your yards again.  In the meantime, what can you do while your garden is sleeping? There's plenty of plant-related activities around southeastern Wisconsin. We've compiled a list of some of our favorites to keep you busy this winter.
The plant of the month is Exclamation® London Planetree- a truly stunning and unusual accent to the winter landscape. This plant is a hero in urban landscapes and a great option to replace Ash Trees.
Reminder: Johnson's Nursery will be closed from Saturday, December 24 through Monday, January 2. We will be back in the office on Tuesday, January 3.
Thank you for reading. Happy Holidays!

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What to do While Your Garden is SleepingFA
by Carrie Hennessy, Landscape Designer      
I love winter. I get excited to break out the warm coats (I may have too many in the closet) and put on a pot of hot tea. These gray months of cold and snow are a welcome respite. I don't even mind shoveling- it's good cardio. I'm tired. My garden is tired. The Winter Solstice is almost here and it is time for us both to take a nap- me under my fleece blanket with a purring cat, the yard under a blanket of snow. Time to make large batches of spicy chili and hearty, cheesy casseroles. Time to light candles with fragrances of cinnamon and pine. Time to binge watch all the seasons of Top Chef on Hulu and page through my cookbooks for inspiration. Time is no longer a luxury, but a beautiful 4 month stretch of activity (or inactivity) with my family.

But I understand that many of you out there don't share my positive winter vibes. If, to you, winter is a depressing slog that must be endured until spring arrives, here are some ideas to make the most of the season.

Sign up for Monarch Tagging
Visit Monarch Watch Shop and get a Monarch tagging kit for $15. Tagging monarchs helps collect data on their migration pathways, how weather affects their travels, and survival rates. Until the Monarchs return, get your Lepidoptera fix by visiting the Butterfly Wing at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

House Plants and Terrariums
Bring some green indoors. Studies have shown that houseplants purify air and lift spirits. But if you are like me and have an omnivorous cat that thinks potted plants are his personal salad bar, protect them in a bird cage or under glass. You can even decorate the Christmas tree with miniature terrariums. Or visit the largest terrarium in Southeast Wisconsin, the newly reopened Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes)

The Domes also hosts the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market, free and open to the public on Saturdays, Nov 5-April 8.

Visit a Public Garden
Most outdoor public gardens are open year round. Many offer cross country skiing and snow shoeing. If you like a lower impact sport, paths are shoveled to allow for easy walking and provide inspiration. Look at how the natural forms of trees, shrubs, and perennials look when absent of foliage or decorated with frost and snow. During the holiday season, many public gardens also host outdoor lighting displays.

Check out: 
Feed the Birds
Winter is a good time to feed birds and bring them closer to the house for observation. The book Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide by Stan Tekiela will help you identify your new friends. Then when the days start getting longer and warmer, you can keep track of when the migrating birds begin returning from their winter vacations. Birdscaping in the Midwest by Mariette Nowak is a great resource to help you build a bird habitat in your yard.

Get Caught up on Your Reading
Speaking of books, start a Winter Garden Book Club with your friends who also like to garden. Some of my favorites:
Make a Spring Resolution
Forget New Year's Resolutions, start planning now what you want to accomplish when spring arrives. Maybe you want to grow your own fruit trees and shrubs? These plants tend to sell out quickly in spring, so it is a good idea to pre-order them. Certain apple varieties like Haralson, Honeycrisp, Ida Red, and McIntosh are best for winter storage.

Browse through those colorful seed catalogs that will be arriving soon and layout your vegetable garden. Building a cold frame will allow you to start enjoying cool-season crops like spinach and other greens in early spring. If you plan correctly, you could also have potatoes and carrots through the next winter.

If you want to make changes to the yard, renovate the beds around the house, build a new patio, install a privacy screen, etc. don't wait until April to contact your landscape designer. We love it when clients contact us now, giving us the luxury of lots of time to put into a project. And if you want it professionally installed, you are given priority over those procrastinating folks that will contact us when the frost is gone!

If you still need more ideas on what to do while your garden is sleeping, watch a presentation I gave to the Master Gardeners in January 2016 on the subject.

Happy Holidays to you all and for Pete's sake, get some rest!
Exclamation® London Planetree
Platanus x acerfolia 'Morton Circle'

London Planetrees are having a moment right now. With Emerald Ash Borer changing the Wisconsin landscape, we are left with a void to fill. One of the trees that makes a great substitute for Ash Trees is the Planetree, especially in urban areas. Very similar to our American native, Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Exclamation® London Planetree is a hybrid (introduced by Chicagoland Grows® through the Morton Arboretum) with better resistance to anthracnose and frost cracking than Sycamore. The upright, pyramidal shape has a strong central leader and is densely branched, even as a young tree. The exfoliating bark of mottled brown, green, and tan peels off in large plates revealing patches of white to cream interior bark- a truly stunning and unusual accent to the winter landscape.
Species of  Platanus trees are often called London Planetrees because they have been grown in England for centuries. During the Industrial Revolution of this country, it was discovered that Planetrees were uniquely suited to tolerating air pollution and could survive, and purify, the dirty, congested urban areas.

Our native Sycamore ( Platanus occidentalis ) is an ancient species and can be traced back to the Cretaceous Period. Native American tribes called them "Ghosts of the Forest" for their stark, spooky outlines in the winter landscape. They grow fast and can reach incredible heights of 100ft or more. Some Sycamores reached even greater heights. At the Botanical Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina, there stands a Sycamore tree planted on Arbor Day, March 19th, 1976. A plaque nearby reads "This sycamore was planted from a seed which traveled the January 31, 1971 Apollo 14 flight to the Moon. Command pilot Stuart Roosa is a former forest service smoke jumper. Commemorating the nation's bicentennial and forestry's centennial. 1976". 400-500 seeds of five different types of trees were taken on the Apollo 14 mission, to study the effects of weightlessness on germination and seedling growth. These stratospheric seedlings were planted throughout the country and earned the moniker "Moon Trees".

The nearest Moon Tree is located at Adler Park School in Libertyville, IL It is 1hr. 15mins. south from Menomonee Falls. Learn more >>
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
Duration 0:55

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 .
from The Dirt
Duration 4:19

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
Duration 1:07

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
Duration 1:10

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.
Watch all of our plant and landscaping videos on our YouTube channel. We invite you to visit and subscribe.
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Digital Guides

Selecting any of these resources will take you to our website, where you will find more videos, information, and downloadable content.

*Hard copies are available in-store for purchase.
Downloadable Content
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 plant(s) purchased so you have something tangible to wrap up as a gift.

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