Seasons Greetings Friends!

We're counting down the day until the ball drops! It's not even technically winter, but we're excited for next spring already. We are thankful for everything that happened this past year. Join us for many of our returning events in 2015, and continue following the Leaf in Brief. 

The plant of the month is the Zone 4, winter hardy evergreen Boxwood (Buxus spp). We have loads of information and interesting lore about Boxwoods. This month's video double feature is Wintertizing Evergreens with anti-transpirant sprays, and a do-it-yourself video tutorial on Winter Evergreen Containers.

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In This Issue

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A Year in Review by Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist/Landscape DesignerFA

The last month of the year is a time for celebration and reflection, no matter which religious observances and traditions are in your family. When I was a kid, I remember my mother always making a big deal about getting out the old typewriter and the clack, clack, clack as she finger-pecked her way through documenting a year of our lives. In the age before Facebook and Instagram, this was how people got status updates. I may be using a laptop instead of a typewriter, and you may be reading this in an email instead of ripping open an envelope, but the sentiment remains. So please sit back with your favorite beverage (and maybe a cookie) to enjoy the Johnson's Nursery highlights of 2014.


We finally got a new monument sign! Our vintage Johnson's Nursery sign was sent to pasture and replaced with a sleek, eye-catching version to welcome visitors to the Menomonee Falls location Headquarters. The structure was built by our talented hardscape crew during the bitter cold of January (in a make shift tent with heaters going strong, day and night). New outdoor lighting and a facelift on the surrounding landscape added the final flourishes.


Saturday, June 14th we hosted an annual plant sale to benefit the Wild Ones native plant organization. On that day, native enthusiasts from throughout southeast Wisconsin arrived to take advantage of 15% off all native plants that we grow (at least the ones in containers). People who took the plunge and signed up to become Wild Ones that day received an additional 5% off their purchase. A portion of the sales that day went directly to the three local Wild Ones chapters.


Also on June 14th, (and again on October 18th) we paired with the Waukesha County Recycling Program for a pot event (not like the kind in Colorado!). Everyone has random plastic pots and trays gathering dust in a garage or basement. Unfortunately though, there are no facilities in Wisconsin that are capable of recycling them so they often end up in landfills. In an effort to encourage "Green Thinking" with "Green Actions", we invited people to drop these off in Menomonee Falls, where they were sorted and palletized to be shipped to a facility in Michigan. We plan to expand the program in 2015, so save your landscape plastic and bring it to us!


When the winter cold starts getting you down, just think about August and the Wisconsin State Fair. In July, Johnson's Nursery donated labor and a whole lot of plants to a section of the DNR's natural area in State Fair Park, just in time for the Fair's opening on Aug 1st. The DNR asked us to create a wildlife habitat and we did so with over 250 new trees, shrubs, and perennials, all of which are Wisconsin natives. As the plants establish, hopefully more native birds and other wildlife will make the space home.


Friday, Aug 22nd, Johnson's Nursery staff took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and made a donation to the ALS Foundation. Nearly 500 gallons of ice water filled the bucket of our front end loader and was dumped on us. It wasn't so bad at first, but then the water just kept coming!


On Sept 17th, Johnson's Nursery and SEWISC (Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium) hosted for the second consecutive year "Where Ecology Meets Economy". It is an educational event intended to spark discussion and find common ground between the Green Industry and Conservation communities. The conference featured speakers Neil Diboll- President of Prairie Nursery, Kurt Dreisilker- Manager of Natural Resources for the Morton Arboretum, Kelly Schultz- Nursery Coordinator of the Lake County Forest Preserve District in Illinois, and our very own Mike Yanny- Plant Rock Star (though he's also known as Johnson's Nursery's Senior Horticulturist and is the owner of JN Plant Selections). Topics ranged from defining local ecotypes, to handling potentially invasive, non-native plants in a public green space, to "Nativars", a relatively new term for cultivars of native plants. And of course, Mike Yanny's presentation was highlighted by ones of his poems, "Eclectricity", where he channeled Ben Franklin. You truly had to be there to appreciate it! Interested? A summary written by Mike Yanny, the videos of the presentations and an audio stream of Mike's electric poem can be viewed on Mike's blog Plant Talk.


Finally, in 2014 we had many great customers visit our nursery throughout the year. We take great pride in the plants that we grow and would like to sincerely thank all of you, because, through your continued patronage, you make these special events possible. From one bunch of plant geeks to another, we wish you a warm, healthy, and happy December!

Johnson's Nursery, Inc. monument sign before.
Menomonee Falls Headquarters

Johnson's Nursery, Inc. monument sign now! Menomonee Falls, WI  

Johnson's Nursery and Waukesha County Recycling staff - 10/18/14

A young fan visits Johnson's Nursery
at the State Fair

Watch again as we take the plunge for ALS

Carrie Hennessy leading a tour at
Where Ecology Meets Economy 9/17/14
Last winter, numerous evergreens had problems surviving the winter. Yew hedges were one of the hardest hit and many were brown by spring. However, Boxwoods were quite a bit tougher. Johnson's Nursery carries many Boxwood varieties that are a cross between English (B. sempervirens) and Korean (B. microphylla) species. Some of our most popular and hardiest varieties are Green Velvet, Green Gem, Chicagoland Green, and Green Mountain (do you sense a green pattern here?).

Besides being very cold tolerant, these Boxwoods can handle full sun to full shade and are completely deer resistant. One drawback is that Boxwoods are very slow growing, though that could also be viewed
as a positive; they won't quickly outgrow a space. You can shear them into a formal hedge or individual balls, or let them go natural and loose. They might not be the most exciting plant out there, but my goodness, they are versatile, and we designers love using them. They serve as backdrops to make other plants pop during the growing season and then provide green when we need it most in winter. They also make a lovely, tidy-looking wreath to grace a front door in December.
Keep the Witches Away!

Because all parts of Boxwoods are toxic (which is why the deer in your yard won't browse on them) they don't have much of a medicinal history. However, Boxwoods planted by the door were thought to keep out witches. Witches were known to be habitual counters of leaves. The idea being that if you plant a boxwood by the door, the witch will obsessively be compelled to count the leaves, but the leaves are so small and close together that the witch would lose her place and have to start over.

"Bux" comes from the Latin word meaning box. The Greeks would use the wood of Buxus to carve intricate little boxes. The slow growth rate of Boxwoods makes the wood very hard and was also once commonly used in musical instruments like violins, flutes, even bagpipes. Many pieces in a modern chess game may still be made of boxwood. But the popularity of Boxwoods in the landscape truly soared when used by the gardener of King Henry IV of France, Claude Mollet, to create the intricate hedge designs of Versailles. They were much more hardy than the previously popular Italian Cypress that could not withstand French winters. Soon the middle class and farmers began using Boxwoods in the gardens to keep out intruders, thus Boxwoods being synonymous with formal and cottage gardening styles. Merci Monsieur Mollet!

Once commonly used in musical instruments
like violins, flutes, even bagpipes.
Trimmed box hedges. 

from Carrie's Quick Tips
by Carrie Hennessy
Duration 0:01:13

Carrie explains options for winterizing your evergreens with the help of anti-transpirant sprays.  
Watch Here

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from The Dirt 
by Carrie Hennessy
Duration 0:07:40

Carrie shows you how to make a great winter container filled with nature's decorations

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p. 262-252-4988  e.