Greetings Friends!

We're only a week from the spring equinox and the start of spring. Have you found yourself itching to be outside? So have we! 


Unfortunately, this year poses a problem in the nursery industry; you might have heard buzz about a shortage of shade and ornamental trees. Fortunately, we will still have some of your favorites, but we're suggesting alternatives to ensure you have the best trees for your projects. Read all about it in the feature article from Mike Yanny, Senior Propagator, and click the video link to watch his American Idol audition.  


NEW! The 2015 Fruit Tree Availability and Guide is ready. This year, along with our returning favorites, we've added several new patio-friendly varieties. Fruit trees and shrubs sell out quickly, so be sure to contact us to reserve your selections.


Thank you for reading.


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Where Have All the Young Trees Gone? by Mike Yanny, Senior PropagatorFA

Oh, so sad!!! So sad it is to hear me sing about the cold hard truth of tree shortages in nurseries right now. I know it is hard to fathom but the shortages may be worse than my singing!


During the mortgage market collapse in late 2007, which lead to the recession in 2008, everyone suffered, including nursery and landscape businesses. Businesses had to make adjustments to compensate for the decrease in sales activity. Many good people lost their jobs. A number of nurseries went out of business. And most of us in the green industry had to find ways to save money.


The poor economy had a dramatic effect on the plant supply stream, creating huge excesses of plant materials. Nurseries were sitting on large amounts of plants because builders weren't building and shoppers weren't shopping. There were lots of trees of a good harvestable size, but fewer people looking to buy them. And when people aren't buying trees, there aren't funds to plant new ones for future harvests. Most, if not all, nurseries had to destroy large parts of their plant inventories that weren't sold as expected and many drastically discounted their stock. These actions were necessary for survival.


As we enter into the spring 2015 season, we are all happy that the economy has turned around, but the industry is still seeing ramifications of those survival tactics in the form of nursery stock shortages, especially trees. The major tree whip (starter tree) producers that supply nurseries have sold out of many varieties in the last two years. So the field growers of balled and burlap trees, who had decreased planting during the recession, are having difficulty fulfilling their needs to build up their inventories now.


The point of this article is to inform you that there are going to be plant shortages this year. Currently, the reality is a lack of availability in 1.75" to 2.5" caliper shade and ornamental trees in the market. In all likelihood, it will get worse in the next two to three years before I expect it to stabilize. Trees take time to grow.


So in the meantime, what are you supposed to do if you want a tree this year?


1. Be flexible

There are still plants available in bigger sizes and alternative varieties that can be used effectively. For instance: Two genera of plants that are outstanding for our area and we have large quantities of are upright juniper and hawthorn. Following the drought we had 3 years ago, Thornless Cockspur Hawthorns and Washington Hawthorns displayed incredible resilience. I think they should definitely move to the top of the list of ornamental trees for Southeastern Wisconsin. I especially like the hawthorns for their horizontal forms in the winter. After a fresh snowfall, they are stars in the landscape.


We also have many different sizes and varieties of Upright Junipers. I can't figure out why they are not used more, especially in these times in which the deer population has decimated many evergreens in the landscape (most are resistant to deer browsing). Another great characteristic of this group of plants is their salt tolerance. They can be put in some tough environments. Where most plants would struggle, they thrive. I love looking at the native upright junipers growing along the Milwaukee County freeway system. It amazes me how wonderful they look and that they freely propagate themselves in one of the most inhospitable places in Southeast Wisconsin.


2. Go Big

Another tactic to deal with the plant shortages is to consider larger sized materials. A number of tree species are currently sold out in the 1.5" to 2" caliper size ranges. However, larger sizes of these species may be available. Life is so short, wouldn't it be nice to have the instant gratification of a 3.5" Bur Oak Tree?


3. Plan ahead

We highly recommend that if you are looking for new trees for your yard that you call early so we can reserve whatever you need. Even the plants (like fruit trees) that we are getting from other vendors in containers will go fast and it's best to pre-order them. The early bird really does get the worm!


4. Communicate

This last one is especially important for our salespeople. Availabilities are changing all the time. Our salespeople have a really good read on what plants are most popular and which are most likely to sell out. Tell them what is important to you in selecting a tree (spring flower, fall color, fruit for birds, etc) and they can offer alternatives if we are sold out of a certain kind of tree.

Click to watch as Mike sings "Where Have All the Young Trees Gone?"
(Inspired by Peter, Paul, and Mary)

Some of my favorite selections from the lists below are:

Technito® Arborvitae

Star Power™ Juniper

Golden Glory Corneliancherry Dogwood

State Street™ Maple

Firebird® Crabapple

Accolade Elm


Waterer Scots Pine


The current situation presents a completely different set of challenges than we have seen before. But we have quickly adapted to this new reality and are eagerly anticipating another spring season. Below is a list of B&B trees that we will have in ample quantities, plus a list of larger-sized trees that will be available. Contact us at any time to let us help you fulfill your plant needs. I promise not to sing!!! 


B&B Trees: Good Quantities, Smaller Sizes


Juniperus chinensis 'Ames'             

Juniperus chinensis 'Hooks'

Juniperus chinensis 'Mountbatten' 

Juniperus chinensis 'JN Select Blue'

Juniperus virginiana 'Burkii'

Juniperus virginiana 'Hillii'

Juniperus virginiana 'JN Select Green'

Picea abies 'Mucronata'

Picea glauca densata

Pinus sylvestris 'Watereri'

Thuja occidentalis 'Bail John'

Thuja occidentalis 'Techny'

Ames Juniper

Hooks Juniper

Mountbatten Juniper
Star Power™ Juniper

Burkii Juniper

Hill Dundee Juniper

Emerald Feather™ Juniper

Mucronata Spruce

Black Hill's Spruce

Waterer Scots Pine

Technito® Arborvitae 

Techny Arborvitae



Acer saccharum 'Bailsta'  

Amelanchier x grandiflora

Carpinus caroliniana JN Strain

Cornus mas 'Golden Glory'

Crataegus crus-galli inermis

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Crataegus viridis 'Winter King'

Gymnocladus dioica              

Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star'

Malus 'Adirondak'                 

Malus 'Coralcole'               

Malus 'Lanzam'                    

Malus 'Prairie Maid'

Malus 'Jewelcole'

Malus sargentii 'Select A'

Ostrya virginiana

Quercus bicolor

Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'

Tilia x 'Redmond'

Fall Fiesta™ Sugar Maple
Autumn Brilliance and Princess Diana Servicberry varieties
JN Strain of Musclewood
Golden Glory Corneliancherry Dogwood

Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn

Washington Hawthorn

Winter King Hawthorn 

Kentucky Coffeetree 

Royal Star Magnolia

Adirondak Crabapple

Coralburst® Crabapple

Lancelot® Crabapple

Prairie Maid Crabapple

Red Jewel® Crabapple

Firebird® Crabapple


Swamp White Oak

Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilac

Redmond Linden

B&B Trees: Good Quantities, Larger Sizes



Thuja occidentalis 'Techny'

Techny Arborvitae



Acer miyabei 'Morton'

Acer saccharum 'Green Mountain'

Acer x freemanii 'Armstrong'

Acer x freemanii Autumn Fantasy™

Acer x freemanii 'Marmo'

Acer x freemanii 'Sienna'

Celtis occidentalis

Cornus mas

Gleditsia triacanthos inermis 'Skyline'

Malus sargentii 'Candymint Sargent'

Quercus rubra

Tilia cordata 'Greenspire'

Tilia mongolica 'Harvest Gold'

Ulmnus x Accolade™

State Street™ Maple

Green Mountain Sugar Maple

Armstrong Maple

Autumn Fantasy™ Maple

Marmo Maple

Sienna Glen Maple

Common Hackberry

Corneliancherry Dogwood

Skyline Honeylocust

Candymint Sargent Crabapple

Red Oak

Greenspire Linden

Harvest Gold Linden

Accolade Elm

PLANT OF THE MONTH:POM Technito® Arborvitae

Son of Techny
by Mike Yanny

Technito - so neato

 our compact boy 

Son of Techny

from Illinois


The little sport is cool green

   and really quite dense.

And just like papa

   makes a great living fence.


Technito is easy

   There's no need to shear.

You just sit back, relax

   and have an ice cold beer.


Ya - Technito is neato

   the compact one.

And Papa Techny is proud

   very, very proud

   To have such a son.

Thuja occidentalis 'Bail John' PP15,850

The lush, dark green foliage of this slow-grower makes it ideal for a screening hedge, especially where space is limited. It also requires no shearing to maintain the shape and holds up quite well under heavy snow. Pretty neat-oh this Technito®!


Technito® Arborvitae was actually born from a mistake. Back in 1984 our production department purchased Techny Arborvitae liners (baby trees that we plant in the fields of our Jackson farm) from Bailey's Nursery in Minnesota. Techny Arborvitae is/was a popular variety for screening and gets quite large. In 1989 Mike Yanny (Johnson's Nursery Senior Horticulturist and owner of JN Plant Selections), noticed there was one arborvitae in the block that was much denser and smaller than its neighbors. So like any good propagator would do, he took cuttings of this rogue tree and planted them in another location to observe. As the trees grew, Mike noted their thick dark green foliage was resistant to winter burn and their growth rate was less than two-thirds the speed of Techny, making it ideal for smaller yards. Turns out, Mike had discovered a "sport" in that original group. A sport is when a bud from a parent plant (like the Techny) has a mutation that changes its structure. Many new varieties of plants are discovered this way.


After many years of observance, in 2004 Technito® Arborvitae was co-introduced with Baileys Nursery (since the original plant came from their stock). It has quickly become popular among landscape professionals and homeowners throughout the country. And we have plenty in the fields. No plant shortage on this one!

Sometimes called White Cedar (even though it is technically in the Cypress family), the common name of Arborvitae is Latin for "tree of life". You'll often notice the evergreens planted in cemeteries to commemorate the dead, though this is not where the meaning originates. In the 1530's the French voyager Jacques Cartier was exploring North America when his crew began to suffer from scurvy, a painful condition caused by Vitamin C deficiency (very common among sailors without access to fresh fruits). Cartier learned from Native Americans that the bark and leaves of Thuja occidentalis could be boiled into a tea, which local tribes had used for centuries to combat the scarcity of fresh fruit in winter. This discovery was invaluable to voyagers and sea travelers so Arborvitae became the first North American tree imported to Europe, where it was given the "Tree of Life" moniker by King Francis of France.


"No tree has branches so foolish as to fight amongst themselves."


There is a particularly old, gnarly Arborvitae known as the Little Spirit Tree, or Witch Tree, in Minnesota's Grand Portage Indian Reservation. Like many wild White Cedars will do, it started growing out of a high rock on the shore of Hat Point, facing Lake Superior. French explorers in the 1700's made note of it as a landmark for navigating the treacherous waters. 300 years later it still survives (it's age is estimated to be around 500 years old). The Ojibwe tribes believed the Witch Tree contained evil spirits that caused harm to canoes and boats on the lake. To ensure safety and fishing success, before setting off on a water journey, a traveler would leave an offering in the twisted roots for the Great Spirit. Today if you want to see it in person, you must be accompanied by a tribal guide and you can leave a modern-day token for the Great Spirit at its base.

Jacques Cartier 
Thuja occidentalis in tea bags 
Little Spirit Tree/Witch Tree 

Spring Cleaning

from Carrie's Quick Tips
by Carrie Hennessy
Duration 1:15

A few ways to get started on the spring clean-up of your garden or landscape.  

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- Take advantage of a sunny day that climbs into the 30's and 40's to cut down dried ornamental grasses. Tall grasses like Miscanthus and Switch Grass can be cut down to about 2-3 inches above the ground; smaller grasses like Prairie Dropseed and Little Bluestem can be trimmed to about 1-2 inches. It's so much easier to do this before the new growth starts to pop up. Just be careful that you don't scalp the crown of the plant.


- As the snow starts to melt, you might find lots of "cocoa puffs" (rabbit scat) on the ground. If there are heavy concentrations near evergreens you'll want to inspect the base of the plants to see if there is any browsing damage. Chances are, they were hunkered down for the winter and used your evergreens (especially arborvitaes and junipers) as a buffet. If the bark is completely stripped around the branches, they will start to die back as the season progresses and will need to be replaced.  


- If Irving Berlin had lived in Wisconsin, he would might have written a hit song that would have started "I'm dreaming of a green spring...". If you've been dreaming of new trees and shrubs for your yard, contact us early to reserve them! 


- The end of winter is a crucial time for feeding birds. Many of the dried fruits, nuts, and seeds that sustained them through the winter are in short supply and keeping your seed and suet feeders filled is very helpful. As the days get longer, you'll notice more migratory birds using the feeders. Keep a log of when you see birds returning to compare to future years.
JUST RELEASED!promo 2015 Fruit Tree Availability
The fruit tree stock availability and guide for 2015 has been updated. This year, we've brought back many of the most popular varieties. Also, we're proud to be stocking 4 varieties of the wildly popular dwarf fruit shrubs by BrazelBerries.

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Raspberry
  • Plum
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Currants
  • Grapes

  Call for availability. Fruit plants sell out quickly. 


March 17 - March 31, 2015 


The Wisconsin Green Industry Federation is getting ready to launch an online auction fundraiser! On March 17, 2015, the W.G.I.F will be auctioning off a number of useful, fun and unique items to bid on to raise money for their organization - and they're asking for your help by making a bid or donation. What is the W.G.I.F? 

Bid On Johnson's Nursery's Items 



by Aaron Jambura, Harvest Manager

This is the time of year (50's in the day, around freezing at night) when maple syrup tappers begin harvesting syrup from their maple trees. Last year's article was all about his syrup harvesting and bottling, maples and pancakes! Reread this delicious article.
Visit our archive to read previous issues of The Leaf in Brief.

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