Greetings Friends!

 Welcome to the 2016 season!  Spring is an especially tricky time when making plant selections. We've been cooped up so long that when we finally see a bit of green, we go a little crazy and bring home any attractive plant that tempts us. If you've ever taken a compatibility test while sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, then this issue is for you. It's time to find out if you're compatible with your landscape! Are you and your landscape the perfect match or is it time to break up? Take our fun test and find out.

Johnson's Nursery is back to being open 7-days a week (note our new hours in the sidebar). Our staff is ready to help you with your plant selections and landscape projects.

Carrie Hennessy presents a new Quick Tip explaining "cultivars". The plant(s) of the month are Magnolias, and the Leaf Lore reveals why they are the granddaddy of trees found in America and are sweet as cupcakes.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy!

If you enjoy the Leaf in Brief, join us on your favorite social media. Stay connected to Johnson's Nursery by subscribing today.

Revisit all of our past articles by visiting the Leaf in Brief archive.

In This Issue

Contact Us
Current Hours
For More Plant Matters...
Like us on Facebook
View our videos on YouTube
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Pinterest
Are You Compatible With Your Landscape?FA
by Carrie Hennessy, Landscape Designer
I was shopping at a Trader Joe's recently for some groceries. I say groceries, but I really mean affordable bottles of wine. While checking out, the cashier asked to see my ID (haven't been under 21 for 15 years so I'll take that as a compliment thank you very much). Beside the cheap booze, I like shopping at Trader Joe's because the staff is extremely friendly. This employee was no different, though a bit chattier than most as she suddenly exclaimed, "Oh! You're a Leo!"  Yes, that's right, my zodiac sign is Leo. My strengths: creativity, humor, generosity. My weaknesses (if you believe everything you read on the internet): stubbornness (my husband would agree with this), a tendency towards extravagance (I do have a Tricolor Beech on order for my yard), and an extreme sense of self-worth that can tend towards arrogance (oh, like you're so perfect).

Then my cashier continued to chit chat, complimented my wedding ring, and said, "Leos should never marry a Scorpio". I paused a moment before replying, "Actually, my husband is a Scorpio". She seemed unfazed by my revelation, no doubt she cards countless people destined for divorce.

Rest assured, my husband and I have a strong relationship and plan to be together for the rest of our lives, zodiac compatibility be damned. We make it work. But now I've gotten to thinking as I complete spring design projects for clients- forget marriage, most people are incompatible with their yards. I've seen it all folks. Apple Serviceberries that have been sheared into unnatural round balls, in attempt to establish control. Hedges so overgrown and neglected that they cover the windows. Spring is an especially tricky time when making plant selections. We've been cooped up so long that when we finally see a bit of green, we go a little crazy and are likely to bring home any attractive plant we see at the garden center.

This month's feature article is more of a service announcement. To avoid tethering yourself to a gardening mistake, please complete the following, very precise (and unscientific) test to determine if you and your landscape are a good match.

Are You Compatible With Your Landscape?
Question 1:  When you were a child, was your dream pet a (choose one)
A.   A goldfish
B.   A cat
C.   A dog
D.   A pretty, pretty pony

Question 2:  How many botanical gardens have you voluntarily visited?
A.   What is a botanical garden?
B.   1-2
C.   2-3
D.   As many as possible, I also enjoy membership perks at one of them.

Question 3:  Which description best describes your personality?
A.   Meh.
B.   I try not to sweat the small stuff.
C.   I like to learn new things and seek excitement and adventure, in moderation.
D.   Everything has its place and I seek to create order and organization in my environment.

Question 4:  What landscaping style do you most admire?
A.   The lawn
B.   Not sure what I just saw, but it was very pretty.
C.   Full and lush. Give me an English cottage garden any day.
D.   Formal and tidy. Like a toddler with a plate of food, there should be space between the plants.

Question 5:  How much time do you like to spend working in the yard?  [Notice I say "working". Drinking on the patio doesn't count.]
A.   The yard? Oh, that's the thing I pass while bringing groceries into the house.
B.   Maybe one weekend a month, depending on if the weather is nice.
C.   A couple hours per week.
D.   As much time as possible... I once wore a head lamp to plant my tulips in fall.
Conclusions: Now total up how many of each letter you circled the most.

Mostly A's:
"It's not laziness, you would just rather be doing something else than pruning a shrub"

Perhaps condo living would be best for you. Or maybe you are lucky enough to afford a landscaper to take care of your yard. If not, maybe you should just stick with lawn. Yes, you have to mow it once a week, but at least you will be getting your steps in. But you are going to need some shade in the yard. Kentucky Coffeetrees are about as low maintenance as you can get. They grow slow and have no notable disease or pest problems.

Mostly B's:
"You have yard envy coupled with feelings of inadequacy"

You can certainly appreciate a nice landscape when you see it, but you don't have time and/or skills to make it happen. There is no such thing as a "no maintenance" landscape, but you want as close as you can get, with the best results. You'll want to stick with mostly shrubs that don't require a lot of pruning, like Tor Spirea, Blue Forest Creeping Junipers, and Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea. An Apple Serviceberry will provide four season interest: white spring flowers, fruit for birds in summer, brilliant fall color, and elegant structure in winter.

Mostly C's:
"You will jump in the deep end of the pool, as long as you have a floaty device and a cocktail"

You view your yard as a fun challenge, though don't want to be a slave to it. You've had the occasional impulse plant purchase, but for the most part you want reliable, easy to care for plants, that also provide the most impact. Boxwood, Annabelle Hydrangea, Summer Peek-a- Boo Allium, Montrose White Calamint, Salvia, and Little Goldstar Rudbeckia are your go-to mix (depending on sun exposure). Native plants and cultivars would be a welcome addition to your yard, too. Freeman Maples like Autumn Blaze will quickly grow to give you shade and the neighbors will be impressed with the consistent fall color.

Mostly D's:
"You're my hero"

You have a commitment to the landscape that is most admirable and many hope, but fail, to achieve. You walk out the door with Felco Ergonomic hand pruners, ready to wage war on any shrub that has over stepped its boundaries. Rabbits scurry in fear when your shadow crosses the yard. You make your own special blend of compost. Finicky, high maintenance plants are no match for you. You have my blessing to include Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons, Clethras, Coral Bells, and Oriental Lilies in your garden. Go big or go home is your motto, so go ahead and install a majestic Beech Tree.

If this article has shed some cold harsh reality on your gardening fantasy, I do apologize.
So I shall leave you with a joke.

"How did the tree meet her husband?"
"She swiped right on Timber!"

I'm here all season folks! Try the veal!
Magnolias may be the best representation of hope in the yard. All winter, those fuzzy buds remind us that through the sleet and snow, life is waiting to emerge.  Though not the first tree to bloom in spring, when Magnolia flowers do emerge it's a pretty good sign that the season has finally turned. Johnson's Nursery will have several Magnolia varieties available for spring: 
Merrill Magnolia
Magnolia x loebneri 'Merrill'    
A large hybrid. Oval habit, spreading with age. The masses of pure white flowers in April resemble a white cloud. When in full bloom, you can almost guarantee a spring storm will knock the petals to the ground, reminding us that such beauty isn't meant to last.
Messel Magnolia
Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'    
For fragrance, Messel Magnolia is simply divine. The cheerful flowers open a deep pink and slowly fade to the palest of shades. Like most magnolias, the flowers will give way to showy orange, cone-shaped fruit, relished by birds.
Royal Star Magnolia
Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' 
Most commonly found as a shrub form to highlight its branching structure, Royal Star is a compact cultivar. The dense branches are covered with white, fragrant, waterlily-like flowers in early spring. The fine-textured foliage turns a lovely bronze in fall.
"The Girls"
In 1968, the National Arboretum introduced 8 new magnolia hybrids affectionately dubbed "The Girls" for their feminine monikers. "The Girls" come in varying shades of deep purple-pink, all being crosses of Magnolia lilliflora (giving them upright, tulip shaped flowers) and Magnolia stellata (giving them better hardiness for Zone 4 areas). They also bloom 2 to 4 weeks later than other magnolias, allowing them to avoid late frosts. It's not uncommon to see sporadic reblooming in summer.  Johnson's Nursery has two of "The Girls":
Jane Magnolia
Magnolia 'Jane'    
A medium-sized tree, Jane has a broad pyramid to rounded habit with large flowers that are reddish purple on the outside, white on the inside. She certainly isn't a Plain Jane!
Ann Magnolia
Magnolia 'Ann'    
A short name for the shortest Magnolia we carry. Slow-growing and rounded, the reddish-purple flowers can highlight a small space that most Magnolias would outgrow.
Dennis Ledvina. Learn More.
Magnolias are very ancient trees. Fossilized remains have been found dating millions of years ago. Because Magnolia is such an old species, they are not pollinated by bees and other flying insects, which evolved much later, but by beetles that are attracted to the flowers' sugary secretions.

Magnolia trees are synonymous with the southern United States. Magnolia grandiflora is the granddaddy of the trees found in America, reaching incredible heights (the national champion in Mississippi measures 121 feet). Unlike Midwestern Magnolias, the South Magnolia is evergreen and has huge, pure white, lemon-scented flowers. Not just for decoration, the lumber has been commercially used for furniture, boxes, pallets, and used as veneers.

During the height of the cupcake craze in America (for Pete's sake, "Cupcake Wars" on the Food Network is a thing), it was the diminutive dessert and a little show called "Sex and the City" that put the famous Magnolia Bakery on the map. If a trip to the original location in New York isn't in your budget, they have a location in Chicago, or you can order from their online store.

One of the most important breeders of hardy Magnolias resided in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dennis Ledvina, who passed away last year, has revolutionized the color range of Magnolias for the north. Some of his selections include: 'Purple Surprise', 'Red Baron', 'Rose Marie', 'Sunset Swirl', 'Daybreak', 'Canary Charm', and 'Goldstar'. He brought yellow flowered cultivars to the forefront, along with brighter pinks, and shades of peach and apricot in his latest creations. Watch for these in Johnson's Nurseries future Magnolia listings.  
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 0:59 
Many plants may be vegetatively reproduced, perhaps by cuttings or root divisions, so they are genetically identical, which preserves ideal attributes such as disease resistance, color, or compact habit. Learn more.

from The Dirt
Duration 3:16

Carrie Hennessy discusses which plants are best, and most popular, for green screens, a living privacy fence. She shows you some of the best options including spruces, upright.... Learn more.
from Carrie's Quick Tips
Duration 5:30

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... Learn more.
Watch all of our plant and landscape videos on our YouTube channel. 
We invite you to visit and subscribe.
View our videos on YouTube 
'How To' Guides
Selecting a guide below will take you to our website, where you will find more videos,  information, and downloadable content.
2016 Fruit GuideFRUIT
Johnson's Nursery Has 32 Varieties
Of Fruit Trees and Shrubs This Year

More space and larger aspirations? As Paul explains in the feature article, home orchards are a very real possibility. We can help you become a successful home fruit grower.

Small landscape or patio? We offer several options for you, including Columnar Urban and espalier apple trees, and 5 varieties of dwarf fruit shrubs by BrazelBerries.

**Please call for availability. Fruit plants sell out quickly.**

Learn More 

Do You Like To DIY?
We Plan-You Plant offers the guidance of our experts, who will use information gathered from you to create a professional landscape design--at no cost--when you purchase your plants at Johnson's Nursery.


Learn More 

Recycle Your Plant Pots/Trays
If you throw certain landscape plastics (i.e #2, #5, #6) in the trash, they will sit in the landfill and will not get recycled. You can return them to us--for free--all year long. Act locally, think globally. Recycle.

Expanding Family Tree?
Have you had a baby recently? Let us extend congratulations by offering you a discount on a tree to grow alongside your baby. Like your child, our trees are raised locally and will grow strong.

Johnson's Nursery Is Seeking Smart, Passionate & Enthusiastic People
Visit our website to learn more >>
Visit our archive to read previous issues of The Leaf in Brief.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve and provide you with quality nursery stock.


Johnson's Nursery, Inc.
W180 N6275 Marcy Road. Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 (map)
p. 262.252.4988