Greetings Friends! 

Halloween is just over the horizon, which means the holidays aren't too far beyond. Until then, let's savor the beauty of our changing landscape. How do YOU know that fall has arrived? We asked some of our staff, and we shared their answers in this month's feature article. We invite you to share your story with us on our Facebook page.

The plant of the month is Larix laricina, Tamarack. This massive Wisconsin native conifer is a stunner in fall when its blue-green foliage transforms to a rich golden-yellow. Our leaf lore takes you to far east Russia, and shares an interesting creation story involving Larches.       
Thank you for reading. Enjoy!
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In This Issue

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Pumpkin Spice and Everything NiceFeatureArticle
Carrie Hennessy,
Horticulturist/Landscape Designer

To some, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is the harbinger of autumn. I, too, have been lured by the seductive call of milky high end espresso doctored with a special blend of spices and essence of gourd. But I fear our culture has taken this Pumpkin Spice trend too far. I was at Target recently, and everywhere you look there are items that have been given this fall upgrade: air fresheners, garbage bags, Oreos, Hostess Cupcakes, and the worst, pumpkin spice-flavored candy corn.
Just when I thought I'd seen it all, I stopped short when I reached the pet aisle and saw a tub of kitty litter with the snazzy moniker of "Fall Frolic". Thank goodness it didn't smell like pumpkin pie, but the label did describe the litter has having a "woodsy aroma". Yes, I know when fall has arrived because suddenly it seems like the cat box is in a forest of maple trees. However, this excursion into mass consumerism got me thinking. What a great idea to ask my fellow Johnson's Nursery colleagues to share how they know fall has arrived. If this whole horticulture thing doesn't work out, I think all of them could have second careers as writers and poets. Enjoy!

"The Start of Something"
by Ben French, Propagator

I love fall. While all the normal people are out there getting pumpkin spice this and that, I am happily elsewhere.

I will be getting loads of seeds! Many of the plants I grow from seed become ready to harvest in the fall. Oak, Hickory, Chestnut, Walnut, Butternut, Hazelnut, Buckeye and more become ripe and start to drop out of the stately trees.

Fruits by the bushel are collected and rotted in buckets: Cherries, chokeberries, hollies, dogwood, hackberry and many more fill the shelves.

Fruit flies swarming the lunch room, plump weevils crawling out of their acorn homes, chipmunks drooling to get at the nutty prize.

I put my many thousands of babies to bed. Nursing them along until spring, when they will be born and I watch them grow.

Fall reinforces a lesson to me once again. Of dirt, water, sun and time, coming to life and beauty incarnate.

Plus it's cooler now, so I don't sweat as much.

"Changing of the Guard"
by Aaron Jambura, Harvest Manager

As the sizzling, sultry days of summer give way to the brisk, refreshing days of fall, changes take place all around us. The songs of satisfied robins with bellies full of worms are replaced with hordes of honking geese beginning their journey south. The glossy, green flushes of lush summer growth give way to pink and purple pastels of wild fall asters blooming amidst the yellowing grasses. Dragonflies and mosquitoes chasing through the air are no more. Brightly colored leaves falling gracefully from their posts high in the trees now fill the air. Children trade in their swim shorts and sprinklers for long sticks, suitable for toasting marshmallows around bonfires on chilly, autumn nights. A changing of the guard takes place. The splendors of summer are simply traded for the new fascinations of fall. Yes, summer has slipped away, but the blessings of fall are just beginning.

A Poem
by Dana Diers, Vegetable Propagator

Fall is colorful. Fall is bright.
The trees fade from deep green to a warm, pleasant light.
Acorns drop and leaves float about until they settle as a crisp blanket on the frosted ground.

Harvest has begun and crop dust fills the air
The bustle is well worth the season's hard work and despair.
Apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash add flavor and appeal to all dishes, doorsteps, and fields.

Brisk mornings call for layers, hoodies, and jeans.
Dry air and sunshine keep you in high spirits, showing what autumn truly means.
Days are shortened-graced with striking sunrises and early sunsets as the birds head south, and hunting can commence.

Fall is for football, green and gold,
And of course the popular chant, "Go Pack Go!"
Embrace each day and enjoy life, for the winter cold will come in spite.

"Autumn's Flames"
by Lynda Lowry, Landscape Designer/Artist
As an artist at heart and by trade, I am acutely aware of how color plays such an important role in how we experience the world. After courses in color theory and color-mixing and numerous nights spent creating what I swear is the most perfect color wheel, you could say I am a bit of a color connoisseur. So when asked what I would consider as my first sign of fall, my instinctual response is the color ORANGE. The almost overnight shift of gem greens into sulfur yellows, hot poker reds, and particularly those rich, gorgeous, and oh-so-vibrant oranges that almost seem to jump among the trees and shrubs around the nursery, like a west coast wildfire. It's my first visual cue that fall is only just around the corner and its flames are licking at my heels. And while I find it to be the most introspective of the four seasons, I also tend to feel the slight pangs of panic as I mentally focus in on how I am going to check everything off my end-of-year to-do list.

There are actually a multitude of studies, particularly geared toward marketing and branding, on how color triggers emotional responses from everyday consumers. And wouldn't you know, scientific marketing strategies utilize orange throughout advertising as an emotional trigger to call to action - to subscribe, buy or sell! I can't help but think that maybe Mother Nature is also using this strategy as a way of calling us to action - to wrap up whatever projects we've had sitting on the back burner before winter's chill extinguishes autumn's flames.

"The End of Something"
by Tom Hill, Sales and Marketing Manager

Like all good gardeners, I encourage pollinators. So, I am a keeper of bees. I tend a single Warre-style hive which thrums with activity. When the forager bees return home laden with the distinctive, coarse yellow pollen of goldenrod I know another summer is ending.

For me, though, autumn does not officially begin until I see worker bees killing drones.

Drones. Those ne'er-do-well slackers of the hive, the sole male occupants, who do no work (only eat) and exist solely to pass on the genes of their Queen mother. If a drone succeeds in doing this-usually in early June-he will die in the act. If a drone does not succeed by autumn then his sister bees will unceremoniously surround him, drag him outside the hive entrance, sting him to death, and pitch him off the landing board. When this happens I know that the quality of sunlight has changed. I know that the weather will soon turn.

I watch, wonder about the roles in the hive, install a mouse guard over the entrance, and walk away to winterize my garden. Soon, I will plant garlic. Summer is over.
PLANT OF THE MONTH:PlantofMonth Larix laricina
Larix laricina

Another sign that fall has arrived is when the Tamaracks turn a rich gold and the tiny little needles begin to drop. Tamaracks are deciduous conifers, meaning they are in the same category as evergreens, but they lose their needles in fall. European Larch, Larix decidua, describes this phenomenon in its botanical name, and looks very similar to Tamarack except it has longer needles.

The village of Menomonee Falls is basically built around Tamarack bogs. Tamaracks are able to survive in these locations because the roots form elevated "hummocks" which allow them to withstand periods of high water. They send out a shallow and fibrous root system, and, as long as the trees remain above the rising water line, the roots will die back, then root down again when the area is drier.

Sakhalin Island, which is now part of eastern Russia, is home to the indigenous Nivkh people. The Nivkh people practice shamanism and have a very interesting creation story involving Larches.

"At first there was only water. There was no land at all. The duck swam over the water. When the time came for her to give birth she saw that her eggs would sink if she laid them on the water. And so she pulled out her own fluff and made a nest. Her babies grew up strong and healthy and in their own time made more nests for their own babies. Gradually there got to be so many nests that they joined together and formed an island. This is how the earth began. First grass began to grow on the island then trees. As their leaves and needles fell, the island grew into the big land. Then sap came from the larch tree. As its drops struck the ground they turned into people- the Nivkh. And so the Nivkh are called the sons of the larch. Their skin is reddish, like the larch. Their neighbors, the Orok, have white skin. It is said they came from the pine tree."

Nivkh people
European Larch
Carrie's Quick Tips by Carrie Hennessy
Duration: 0:53
from The Dirt with Carrie Hennessy 
Duration: 4:00

Studies have shown that if 25% of a landscape is left or converted to natural habitat, 100% of the pollination needs can be met. Imagine if we all devoted a corner of the yard to native pollinators... Learn more.

from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration: 1:10

Deer can be lovely to look at in the wild, but when they are dining on your most valuable landscape plants they can raise the blood pressure of even the most ardent nature lover. Learn about deer resistance... Learn more.
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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.

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