Winter is in full swing. We hope you're staying warm during these unbelievably low temperatures as of late. Please enjoy this, the first issue of The Leaf in Brief, for 2014. As always, we like to provide the highest quality information to your plant-centric mind.

In this issue you will learn about 2014's color of the year, "Radiant Orchid", as announced by the Pantone Color Institute. There are several plants for your garden which fit this color well. Syringa meyeri "Palibin', commonly know as Meyer Lilac, is our plant of the month, and we've included gardening tips and lore behind lilacs. Also, you will find resources to alleviate unwanted pests who've hitched a ride on the plants you've invited inside for the winter.

Welcome to 2014! We're excited to see you this year, and remember, if you have any questions regarding plants or need assistance with your landscape, we're always here to help.

Thank you,

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"Radiant Orchid" by Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist/Retail Design Supervisor 

2013 was an incredible year. The nursery and landscaping business was great. My husband and I took a long-anticipated trip to Scotland. I became an aunt again to a beautiful little girl who shares my birthday month. We got a new cat. With so many awesome events last year, I'm beginning 2014 feeling dull. How can 2014 possibly measure up? I'm in serious need of some creativity and inspiration.


Thank goodness, The Pantone Color Institute has announced the color of 2014 to be "Radiant Orchid". Described as "An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health...An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality". Perfect! I will use one of my holiday gift cards to get a new sweater in the hue of the year (luckily, I look good in jewel tones). The bedroom needs new accent pillows and Radiant Orchid will compliment the deep purple curtains. And as for my garden... there are plenty of plants in shades of orchid that will "intrigue the eye and spark the imagination".


Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis

Welcome spring with a blaze of radiance! The dark branches of this architectural beauty are covered with bright flowers in mid to late April and will last for weeks. Your neighbors will want to know, what is the amazing purple tree you planted? In the legume family, the flowers and buds of Eastern Redbud are edible and taste like peas; a colorful garnish for a dinner party salad.


Endless Summer Hydrangea series
Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars

Whether it's the Endless Summer™ or Twist-n-Shout™ varieties, most people know that lowering the pH of the soil will turn the all-summer-bearing flowers blue while making the soil alkaline produces bright pink flowers. But did you know that when the soil pH is more neutral you achieve a pretty purple flower?


PJM Rhododendron
Rhododendron x 'P.J.M.'

Rhododendrons are finicky in Wisconsin, but the variety PJM is more reliable. Give them a spot that isn't too wet, protected from harsh winter winds, keep the soil acidic with a product like organic sulfur, and you'll be rewarded with vivid flowers in mid to late April. The glossy evergreen foliage turns a rich dark mahogany in winter.



Kobold Original Blazing Star
Liatris spicata 'Kobold Original'

Tempt your imagination and local butterflies in the garden. 'Kobold Original' is a more compact, vegetative strain of Prairie Blazing Star that will stand tall (but not too tall at 24" high) in a sunny location. Butterflies love to hang out on the rosy-lavender flower wands in summer. Also makes a great cut flower.



Pasque Flower
Pulsatilla vulgaris

A delicate way to introduce Radiant Orchid, Pasque Flower's bell shaped, bodacious blooms appear early in the season, before the foliage even develops. An ideal plant for a sunny area with limited space.



Ozawa Ornamental Onion
Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'

This is in my top five favorite perennials! So versatile, so tiny, so cute! Ozawa offers clean, sturdy grass-like texture during the summer and then surprises you in late fall with clusters of rose-purple flowers, keeping their color into early winter. Ozawa continues to "Wowza" when the foliage changes a pumpkin-orange color around Halloween.


Samurai Toad Lily

Tricyrtis formosana 'Samurai'

Finally, the most orchid-like of our "radiant" flower choices, Samurai Toad Lily produces curiously spotted, lavender-purple flowers in fall, adding whimsy to the partial shade garden. The glossy, dark green foliage is dressed up with a thin golden-yellow margin. As you pass this beauty, you won't be able to resist lightly touching the delicate flowers that seem to smile and dare you to be inspired.
Meyer Lilac 

Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'  

Meyer Lilac - Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'
Mat. H: 4-5'   Zone: 3
Mat. S:  5-7'   Exposure: Full to partial sun

Also known as Palibin or Dwarf Korean Lilac, Meyer Lilac is a good alternative in the garden if you want that classic lilac smell but don't have room for the old-fashioned kind. The leaves are smaller, too, and often turn a deep burgundy or purple in fall. The overall shape tends to be more formal and the shrub can be sheared into a hedge, though you should do any shearing soon after it is done blooming. Lilacs set their new flower buds for the following spring over the summer. Plus, the reddish-purple buds that open to light purple flowers certainly fit in to the Radiant Orchid scheme for 2014. (It is common to see Meyer Lilac Shrubs grafted onto a "standard" or trunk to create a formal-looking small scale tree.)


If you brought any plants in from the garden to spend the winter in your house, you may have noticed that some unwanted pests might have hitched a ride, like aphids and mealy bugs. If you don't want to use chemical pesticides in the house (especially on kitchen herbs) just soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and dab it on the leaves to kill the buggers.


Holiday evergreen arrangements, wreaths, and swags can last through the winter by changing any bows to more neutral winter themes, like ribbon with pine cone motifs or hearts for Valentines Day. You can also keep the greenery looking fresh by spraying it with an anti-transpirant like Wilt Pruf®, which will keep the foliage from drying out and turning brown.


Native Guide

Be the first to get the updated Johnson's Nursery Wisconsin Native Plant Guide. The new edition has more information and more high quality color photos. You may view the guide on our website, or you may purchase a hard copy for $8.00 at our retail locations in Menomonee Falls and Cedarburg.

Leaf Lore - Lilacs

Lilacs are almost synonymous with America (everyone seems to remember a grandmother growing them), but they originate from southeast Europe and Asia. In the mid-1500's they made their way to Austria and from there into France. Early settlers coming to North America packed lilac shrubs in their baggage and the fragrant plant took root. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have both written about lilacs in their gardens.


Lilacs are the traditional flower for an 8th wedding anniversary and also the state flower of New Hampshire. The Lilac won the New Hampshire title through a long arduous process. It was first brought up in the House to be considered with 9 other flowers then moved onto the Senate where they couldn't decide so the names of Lilac, Mayflower, and Purple Aster were put into a hat, and a blindfolded senator selected the Lilac. But it wasn't to end there because when the Senate told the House their selection, the House preferred the apple blossom, so a 10-man committee was formed which came up with the solution to put the choice to two renowned botanists from Dartmouth and the state college to break the tie, but they were also at an impasse. So the committee finally decided to take a vote on it and the Lilac won over the apple blossom 8-2. Government decision-making at its finest! (Read about it here) 

 Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'
Syringa vulgaris - Bark


This episode is a blast from the past. In episode 8, Carrie discussed shrubs and grasses with great winter-interest characteristics. Be sure to check out other topics

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This Quick Tip shows you how to protect your trees from Deer. Carrie shows you how to use a tree wrap to protect your young trees from buck rub damage.


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Nature's Best to You.®
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