Greetings Friends! 


Happy Independence Day! Before we begin, please be aware that Johnson's Nursery will have shortened hours this Friday, and will be closed Saturday, July 4 and Sunday, July 5 in observance of Independence Day. Also, be sure to note that retail summer hours started July 1. See the right column for complete hours or visit our website


Welcome to the July issue of the Leaf in Brief! This month

we channel Elmer Fudd and dedicate the feature article to repelling those "wascally wabbits". Carrie Hennessy discusses tips and tricks, and picks her favorite rabbit-resistant plants. We also have videos in the garden tips section for small animals and disease prevention. 


The Plant of the Month is a trio of plants. Johnson's Nursery carries the "Three Bears" of Russian Sages. We are sure you'll find one that is just right for your inner Goldilocks. Visit the leaf lore section to learn why these sages are not meant to be used in the kitchen.  


We hope you have a fun (and safe) holiday weekend.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy!


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In This Issue

Holiday Weekend 
Friday, July 3
Saturday, July 4
Sunday, July 5

Retail Hours

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Let's square off with pesky rabbits!

Recently, my husband and I were babysitting my cousin's kids. Since we don't have children of our own, the selection of kid-friendly movies in our house is pretty limited. But my husband does have a complete set of Looney Tunes DVD's that we dusted off and put on for the kids to watch. I learned two things from this. 1) Kids today don't have an appreciation for the sophisticated comic nuances of anvil-dropping, and 2) I used to think that Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam were obsessive and unbalanced characters. Now, I am empathetic to their never-ending battle with Bugs Bunny.


Hassenpfeffer for dinner!

I was doing a site consultation for some clients in Wauwatosa earlier in June. While we were chatting, the cutest little baby bunny hoppity-hopped in front of us. The wife pointed out the hole in the lawn where the family of rabbits lived and said they had been enjoying watching the babies grow up. I asked if they had any problems with the little guys eating their plants (it was a beautifully landscaped yard, which will be on the Wauwatosa Secret Garden Tour on Saturday, July 11th). She said no, right as I witnessed the fluffy, scallywag bounce away with a piece of delphinium hanging out of its mouth. Such is the plight of soft-hearted urbanites. Since they weren't willing to take unsavory actions, I suggested they start using repellants on the tastier plants in the yard and put piles of lettuce and carrots by their den, in hopes that it will discourage them from turning the yard into a buffet. My mom uses this technique. It has varying success (don't put the food near your vegetable garden or landscape plants because the carrots will be mere appetizers). Mom has named her resident rabbit Arthur (after my great-uncle who used to live in the house) and swears it is the same one every year. The rabbit sits outside her kitchen window and when he sees her he sits up on his hind legs, looking adorable, begging. 


I wage a less diplomatic war with those "wascally wabbits". Every day, after putting in long hours at the nursery, I pull the car into my driveway, grab the paperwork I brought home (remembering at the last second not to lock my keys in the car) already anticipating the cold beverage that will be waiting for me. Then I see him. Without fail, Mr. Rabbit is sitting in my back yard, wide-eyed, frozen mid-bite with a mouthful of my garden. For a while it was just him. Now he has a girlfriend. I think they have started a family on the other side of the fence, in my neighbor's yard.


The term "breeding like rabbits" exists for a reason. Rabbits have a gestation period of only 30 days. Incredibly, the day after giving birth, the female can mate again and get pregnant. Rinse and repeat. Depending on what the weather is doing, one adult female rabbit could potentially have 6 or more litters in one year. Considering coitus takes about half a minute, and the Mama only nurses the kids for a few minutes a couple times a night, that means their entire day is spent in search of food and hiding from predators. Searching for food in my yard. Eating my expensive, peachy-orange coral bells . If you are lucky, you have a good population of hawks and foxes in your neighborhood to keep the rabbit numbers down. I am not so lucky.


Bobbex-R Animal Repellent 
I spray repellents. Bobbex is an excellent brand. Repellents made of hot peppers work, too. Sometimes rabbits get used to a particular brand and you need to switch it up. A mesh fence will be going around the vegetable garden. A better tactic is sticking to plants that the rabbits don't eat. Which isn't to say that they still won't take a bite and spit the plant out, just to see if they like it or not. I have done the trialing and shed the tears for you. Below is a list of plants that, while not 100% resistant, are at least not the favorites of hasenpfeffers.

Carrie's Picks
"Wabbit Wesistant Pewennials & Shwubs"

  • Montrose White Calamint (Calamintha) -This perennial is rock-solid. I have never seen a rabbit eating these. They usually do not like anything in the mint family
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia) - See more about sages in the Plant of the Month section.
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Most Hostas
  • Ferns - Sometimes I have problems with Japanese Painted Ferns
  • Canada Wild Ginger (Asarum)
  • Salvias (Salvia sp.)
  • Dianthus (Dianthus sp.)
  • Lambs Ear (Stachys sp)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Perennial Geraniums (Geranium sp.)
  • Lung Wort (Pulmonaria)
  • Most Grasses - Except they love Golden Japanese Forest Grass-(Hakonechloa sp.)
  • Tor Spirea (Spiraea betulifolia 'Tor')
  • Sun-loving Hydrangea (Paniculata sp)
  • Shade Hydrangeas: 'Annabelle' variety and the macrophylla species. - Without fail, any Oakleaf Hydrangea (H. quercifolia) I've brought to the yard has been whittled to nubs if I don't use repellent.
  • Blue Ice Amsonia (Amsonia x Blue Ice)
  • Yarrow (Achillea sp.)
  • Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla)
  • Ornamental Onion (Allium sp.)
  • Certain Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.) - Coral Bells come with a caveat. I have found that rabbits tend to not eat the ones with thicker, pubescent leaves, or the purple-leafed varieties. But they love every coral-colored variety I bring home. The ones not browsed in my yard are: Stainless Steel, Obsidian, Mocha, Blackout, Citronelle, Caramel, and Palace Purple. Anything else has to be doused with Bobbex.
Calamintha nepeta 'Montrose White'
Athyrium x 'Ghost'
Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch'
Heuchera 'Stainless Steel' PPAF
PLANT OF THE MONTH:PlantofMonth Perovskia atriplicifolia
Johnson's Nursery Presents: 
The "Three Bears" of Russian Sage

Russian Sage 
Perovskia atriplicifolia
Size: 3-4' tall x 3-4' wide

In full bloom for the month of July, this is a much more reliable option than English Lavender if you are looking for something in pale purple with an airy habit. If you have a sunny, dry area, with plenty of room, and lots of deer and rabbits that roam, the straight species Russian Sage creates a beautiful backdrop to your perennial garden. The poorer the soil, the better; too much fertilizer can cause it to become floppy. Leave the stems up through winter and then cut it back in spring. The entire plant often survives the winter, like a shrub, but cutting back every year will keep your Russian Sage under control, more uniform, and less woody.

Too tall? Then try...


Lacey Blue Russian Sage 
Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Lisslitt' PP22,845
Size: 18-20" tall x 24-36" wide

Finally, a Russian Sage that can be moved to the front of the garden. Squat, sturdy, and doesn't flop over, Lacy Blue is a heat and drought tolerant selection for smaller yards, in the front of the perennial borders, or in mass planting. 

Too small? Then try...


Little Spire Russian Sage 
Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'
Size: 24-30" tall x 24-30" wide

A wonderful compact, upright form of Perovskia atriplicifolia with the same feathery texture. Fragrant silvery-gray foliage and lavender-blue flower spires add a sense of brightness to smaller yards and beds, accents, and mass plantings.

Ahh, this one is just right! 


The herb garden is where I first became interested in plants. In late summer our kitchen would be decorated with bunches of herbs drying from the ceiling. Unlike culinary sage (Savlia officinalis), Russian Sage (Perovskia) is not a true Sage, though they are both in the Mint Family. Little did I know when I was 12 that the leaves of Russian Sage are not meant for use in the kitchen, though the flowers are appreciated by honey bees. The lavender-blue flowers also have a sweet flavor and add a whimsical garnish in salads. Native to Northern Iran to Afghanistan to Tibet, Perovskia has a long history of the leaves being used to repel insects, such as fleas in animal bedding and their essence was made into oil to prolong grain storage. Medicinally, Russian Sage is known to treat dysentery and is a powerful fever reducer.

A bee enjoying a Russian Sage blossom.  

Watch & Learn: 

from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 1:07

Carrie shows you how to apply animal repellants to protect your trees, shrubs and conifers from hungry pests.
Learn more.

from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 1:55

Carrie discusses certain chemicals to prevent plant diseases. Learn more.

Read & Learn: 

*Selecting a guide above will take you to our website, where you will find more information, videos and downloadable PDF's on your desired topic.


Offering the expertise of our Horticulturists, this custom design service is provided at no cost to you.   
This is the best do-it-yourself program if you're a homeowner looking to design and plant your own project. We Plan-You Plant offers the helpful assistance of our experts, who will create a professional landscape design--at no cost--when you purchase your plants at Johnson's Nursery. Watch the videos on our website and get started today. Learn More.

We encourage you to bring your empty plastic containers and trays back to Johnson's Nursery.

If thrown in the trash, these materials will sit in the landfill and will not get recycled. You can return them to us, for free, all year long. Simply pull up to the bins and place your plastics in the bin with the corresponding recycling symbol.

Recycle. Act locally, think globally. Learn more.
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Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
Nature's Best to You.
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