Spring is here, cold weather is on its way out, and life is returning to the flora and fauna. This is the time when spring harvest is in full swing at Johnson's Nursery, and people such as yourself are looking out your windows just itching to get your fingernails dirty making your landscape and garden bigger and better than last year. We hear you!

Typically we plan our landscapes to accommodate animals and birds, but in this issue we're talking about plants for your yard, which can give you sustenance. The plant of the month is the American Filbert, commonly known for its rather mundane look, until it explodes into amazing fall colors, but produces edible nuts. Our April gardening tips share information about browned evergreens from the recent harsh winter, and we share some mulching and lawn care advice. The leaf lore shares the history of how hazelnuts were thought to bring great wisdom and could divine your romantic future, and we ask you to mark your calendars for our free events- in this months Leaf in Brief.

Bon Appétit!
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Delightfully Delicious Landscapes
by Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist/Retail Designer

We are in the age of sustainability. We buy energy-saving light bulbs and hybrid cars. I will furiously rummage through the office trash to retrieve an aluminum can that didn't make it into the correct recycling bin. We want our ribeyes to be grass-fed, our eggs to be free-range, and our kale to be locally grown by a farmer in the next county.


What could be more local than getting food from your own yard? And I'm not talking just a vegetable garden in the back. "Edible Landscapes" are a hot new trend that strives to make the plants that add ornamental value in the yard do double duty in the kitchen. You need a shade tree anyway, why not choose one that can help out at dinner time, too?




Oaks, Quercus species
Acorns have long been used by Native Americans for flour. White Oak species like Bur Oak and Swamp White Oak have acorns that contain fewer tannins so are less bitter than Red Oaks. If you can find them, Chinkapin Oaks are even better. A very natural flour substitute for those with gluten intolerance.


Basswood/Linden, Tilia americana 

Sometimes called "bee trees", the late spring flowers are a magnet to pollinators. The flowers produce lots of nectar that make a high-quality honey. The seeds can be cracked open in fall and snacked on like a small nut.


Corneliancherry Dogwood, Cornus mas

Copious amounts of olive-shaped red fruits will cover the tree in late summer. They are tart and refreshing, very similar to a cranberry and make a lovely red jelly.


Serviceberry, Amelanchier  

One of the first plants to signal spring's arrival, the white flowers give way to dark blue pea-sized berries that taste similar to a blueberry. If you can get to them before the birds do, they make a tasty pie. Just don't eat too many slices because the fruit also acts as a diuretic.




Elderberry, Sambucus  

Able to grow in deep shade, Elderberries can quickly fill in an understory to replace invasive buckthorn. Both the flowers and fruits are edible. The flowers are what give the St. Germaine Liqueur its delicate flavor. The fruits have long been prized in jellies, wines, and syrups.


American Hazelnut, Corylus americana

The nuts are similar in taste and shape to its European cousin, Corylus avellana, only smaller. Male and female flowers are born on the same shrub so you don't need two to in order to produce nuts, but having more than one puts you on the path to a bumper crop.


Staghorn Sumac, Rhus typhina

Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra

Sumacs light up the slopes of Wisconsin highways in fall. If you have the space, Sumacs will colonize and stabilize a steep slope in your own yard. The unusual conical clusters of small red drupes have a citrusy flavor. Place about two cups of the rust-colored berries in a clean pantyhose foot, steep in a quart of water, and sweeten to taste for a lemonade-type drink. Dried seeds can also be ground into a powder that yields a tart flavor which chefs sprinkle on fish, chicken, and salads, basically anywhere that calls for fresh-squeezed lemon juice.


New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus 

Revolutionary period Americans used the dried leaves of Ceanothus americanus as a black tea substitute. The small scale shrub will thrive in dry sites, whether in sun or shade, a good alternative to spireas.


Glossy Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa var. elata

White spring flowers and intense fall color makes Black Chokeberry a good shrub in the landscape. The fruit is too tart to eat raw (hence the common name of Chokeberry) but harvest after frost to be cooked and sweetened in pies and preserves. The dark purple fruit is higher in antioxidants than blueberries and is easier to grow in alkaline soil.


Missouri Gooseberry, Ribes missouriense

Too seedy to eat raw, the fruit is excellent in jellies. The thorny nature of this Wisconsin native shrub makes it a good barrier to intruders.




Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa 

In the mint family the dried leaves of Monarda fistulosa, make a tea that tastes similar to Earl Gray. The lavender flowers also attract important pollinators to your yard, so place near the vegetable garden to take full advantage of this trait.


Ostrich Fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris 

Ostrich Ferns are easy to grow in a shady location. The young, tender, tightly coiled shoots called fiddleheads can be steamed and used in salads or sautéed in a little garlic and butter. But be sure that your fiddleheads are coming from Matteuccia struthiopteris, because other kinds of ferns can be toxic.


Wild Leek, Allium tricoccum &

Nodding Pink Onion, Allium cernuum

Use these two types of native alliums as you would chives; all parts of the plant are edible, from the bulbs to the grass-like succulent leaves to the round flower clusters. Just be aware that they do like to colonize where they are planted, so give 'em some room.


Canada Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense

A great native groundcover for shade that also inhibits the growth of invasive garlic mustard. Plus the rhizome root structures have a slightly less strong flavor that domestic ginger for cooking.




We've all got them in our yards, so why not reach for the salad fork instead of the herbicide?


Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale

Dandelions are a good source of beta carotene. Just like lettuce, it's best to harvest the leaves when they are young, before they get too bitter. Tear and toss a handful in your next salad. The yellow flowers can also be eaten and make a pretty garnish.  


Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata

Garlic Mustard was brought over from Europe by settlers for its culinary applications. However, they probably didn't realize what a huge pest this biennial would become. When you are pulling the rosette leaf clusters from the ground save some for the kitchen. The garlicky flavor is a nice addition to salads, can be tossed in a stir fry, or I've even seen pesto recipes that use Garlic Mustard instead of basil. Again, use the young leaves so to avoid bitterness.

Chinkapin Oak (Acorns)
Basswood (Flower)
Serviceberry (Fruit)
Elderberry (Fruit)
New Jersey Tea
New Jersey Tea
Black Chokeberry
Black Chokeberry (Fruit)
Wild Bergamot
Wild Bergamot (Flower)
Ostrich Fern (Leaf)
Canada Wild Ginger
Canada Wild Ginger (Leaf)
Garlic Mustard
Garlic Mustard
American Filbert - Corylus americana
Mature Height: 8'          Mature Spread: 8'
Exposure: Full Sun is best, but tolerant of filtered shade. Zone: 4

American Filbert

Corylus americana 


American Filbert's edible nuts make it a wonderful addition to the landscape for wildlife (and you). As functional as American Filbert is, it has a rather mundane appearance. It's green...nice and full for screening purposes. Oh, but once temperatures take a downturn at summer's end, this boring bush transforms into an astounding autumnal accent. The fall color range of orange, red, and purple is made all the more stunning when the leaves are lightly tinged with frost.


Evergreens & Winter Damage  
You may be one of the many whose evergreens turned brown over winter from the cold temperatures. Yews and Dwarf Alberta Spruces seem to have been hit the hardest. As long as the terminal buds survived, the new growth will push past and camouflage the brown. If not, April is a good time to get out the hedge trimmers or replace the plant with a new one. If you missed the pictures on Facebook, WISN12 stopped in to discuss the effects of our recent harsh winter on evergreens. Read Full Story

Lawn Care Tip  

After the snow has melted and the ground is no longer soggy, rake you lawn to fluff up any matted down area and to remove any snow mold. Later in the month, follow through with spot seeding of grass seed to fill in bare spots.


Mulching Tip

Gradually remove winter mulch, such as evergreen boughs from around roses, perennials and ground covers. Bark mulch garden pathways to suppress weeds and facilitate spring work in the garden and when annual flowerbeds and vegetable gardens can be worked later in the month. Top-dress the beds with compost or well-rotted manure. For landscape beds, it's easier to add a new 1-2" layer of fresh bark mulch now before your perennials get too tall. 

Wisdom From Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are also referred to as filberts because in Europe, the nuts ripen around Aug 20th, the feast day of St. Philibert. St. Philibert was a French monk who lived from 608-684 AD, whose claim to fame was founding several monasteries, though really the fact anyone could live to 76 years of age back then seems more miraculous.


The Celts thought hazel trees represented wisdom. Ancient tales describe sacred hazel trees dropping their nuts into a salmon-filled pond. The salmon ate the nuts, thus imbibing the wisdom; the number of nuts eaten evident by the bright spots on their skin. Their might be something to this legend-salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid, which aids brain function and development.


Young maidens used hazelnuts to divine their romantic future by placing individual nuts on the hot bar of a fire grate. She whose nut caught fire first would be the first married. She whose nut cracked before flaming would be jilted. If the nut merely smoldered, she would be a spinster. If the nut popped off the grate, a single life of travel was in store. As far as nuts go, seems like a pretty good system.


Native Americans used the inner bark of American Filberts to induce vomiting and the roots to make a teething aid for babies. Plus the nuts themselves were an ideal protein source and could be ground into flour or paste for bread. Too bad the Native Americans didn't know the culinary joys of pairing hazelnuts with chocolate.

Earth Day - Tuesday, April 22
Earth Day 2014
Arbor Day - Friday, April 25
Arbor Day 2014  
FREE EVENT: Emerald Ash Borer
Saturday, April 26 from 10:00am-12:00pm.
EAB has arrived in Wisconsin. Learn how these insects are impacting your yard, along with other tree health care issues.
Event is free, however space is limited. Please RSVP. More Info.

Hanging Basket Sale - Johnson's Gardens (Cedarburg)
May 2-11 during posted store hours.
Shop Cedarburg's largest annual hanging basket sale!
Enjoy 2 for $29.99 on select varieties, while supplies last.
Area-wide Recycling Event to Begin
Saturday, June 14 - Save your garden plastics.
Johnson's Nursery and Waukesha County Recycles are collaborating on an initiative to collect your garden plastics.
More information will be released soon. Keep an eye on our Facebook page.


Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
Nature's Best to You.®
p. 262-252-4988  e. info@johnsonsnursery.com