October 11, 2017
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Native Junipers You Should Know

Native Junipers You Should Know Juniperus virginiana and Juniperus communis – we have a boatload of these plants and they are really nice! I remember growing Juniperus virginiana and Juniperus communis years ago and they didn’t look as good as they do today. The bottom needles would turn brown and […]
October 6, 2017
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Crabapples for Birds

Crabapples for Birds I’m sure there are some of you out there that are thinking, “Yeah crabapples are for the birds, and not for me. They have disease problems (scab) that knock the leaves off the trees by August and the big, stinking fruit that drops all over the sidewalk […]
May 2, 2017
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Nativars In Landscaping

What is a nativar? I have had numerous people ask me what I thought about nativars and their appropriateness for native landscaping. Here are my thoughts. Allan Armitage, a horticulture professor at the University of Georgia, likely created the term nativar to mean a cultivar or hybrid derived from a […]
March 12, 2017
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Redbud in Wisconsin

Content Redbud in Wisconsin Here at Johnson’s Nursery we have been growing Eastern Redbud trees almost since the beginning of our time. These are beautiful small trees that get to about 20 to 25 feet tall and wide, with a somewhat rounded outline. In flower they are absolutely stunning! They […]
February 20, 2017

Wisconsin’s Native Oaks

No group of trees symbolize strength and longevity more than Wisconsin’s native oaks. They has been revered by people all over the world for thousands of years. The Druids would not meet for ritual without having an oak tree present. The masts of the sailing ships that brought the pilgrims from […]
February 20, 2017

Wisconsin’s Native Oaks – Red Oaks

Red Oaks Northern Pin Oak, Hills Oak, or Scrub OakQuercus ellipsoidalis60’ tall by 45’ wide Northern Pin Oak or Scrub Oak as it is often called in the sand country of Central Wisconsin is a really tough, small scale species in the Red Oak group that tolerates tough, droughty conditions. […]
February 20, 2017
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Wisconsin’s Native Oaks – White Oaks

White Oaks White Oak Quercus alba 50-80’ tall by 50-80’ wide White Oak, along with Red Oak, is perhaps the most important Oak species in our Southern Wisconsin forests. The White Oak is common in our pre-settlement woodlands and can be easily distinguished from other oaks by its round lobed […]
February 20, 2017

Wisconsin’s Native Oaks – Pests

Native Oak Pests & Diseases Two-lined Chestnut borer “The most important insect cause of oak mortality is the two-lined chestnut borer (Agrilus bilineatus).” This statement by Phil Pellitteri, a former professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is one all who plant native oaks in Wisconsin should be aware of. These […]
February 15, 2017
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Timing Is Everything

Timing Is Everything I’ve heard it said a hundred times, “in life, timing is everything”. I believe this is true in life, love, and horticulture. Success or failure depends on it. In my life, if I hadn’t met my love, Lori, when I was a 21-year-old, wide-eyed hippie working at […]
January 4, 2017
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Getting Wild

Getting Wild Getting wild with native plants gains popularity as each year passes. I remember when I first started working at the nursery in 1980. Native Oaks were hard to come by. Few nurseries carried them. Musclewood was a cool little plant that grew down in the woods at the […]
October 24, 2016

Sugar Maple – King of the Woods

Sugar Maple – King of the Woods My friend Karl told me one time that he thinks he’s part Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum). Ya really! He told me he is related to the tree. He says it comes from his father’s side of the family because they were foresters and […]
February 14, 2016
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Where Do Baby Plants Come From?

Where Do Baby Plants Come From? In all my years of writing now, I’ve always skirted around an important issue. That is plant sex. I know most of you in the landscape industry are familiar with human sex at least from summer to winter. Spring–not so much! So, I think […]
August 24, 2015
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Trautman Plants

Trautman Plants The Legacy of Herbert F. Trautman at Johnson’s Nursery Herbert F. Trautman, has long been an important part of Johnson’s Nursery. Herbert influenced both Clark Johnson, the founder of Johnson’s Nursery, and his son Wayne Johnson, who built the nursery into a thriving business from 1970 through the […]
June 25, 2015
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Salivating for Salvias

Salivating for Salvias Salivating for Salvias I’m sure many of you are thinking, “What kind of drool is going to come out of his month?” Well it’s saliva, ladies and gentlemen,–not drool. And I’m salivating over Salvias. So let your tongues wag, and get your handkerchiefs ready while I tell […]
April 20, 2015
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Homegrown—It’s Good Stuff

Homegrown—It’s Good Stuff!!! Back in the 70’s, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, when my hair was halfway down my back, when Robin Yount was truly ‘the kid’, when Pink Floyd was on tour, and when a “google” was a drunk giggle,– ‘homegrown’ had a different meaning for some of us […]
March 9, 2015
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Where Have All the Young Trees Gone?

Tree Shortages In The Nursery Industry Tree Shortages In The Nursery Industry This article was originally published in March 2015. Oh, so sad!!! So sad it is to hear me sing about the cold hard truth of shortages of young trees in nurseries. I know it is hard to fathom […]
May 12, 2014
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CSI: Milwaukee – Browning Evergreens

CSI: Milwaukee – Browning Evergreens What happened to the evergreens? The last three weeks I have been on assignment. I am leading an important investigation for Johnson’s Nursery on browning evergreens. Why are they brown??? Who or what caused this death of foliage? How could this happen? What was involved? […]
February 7, 2014
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Tree Cycles

Tree Cycles at Johnson’s Nursery The Stages of Production of Seedling B&B Trees Remember way back when, before you even had training wheels, when you had a tricycle. I do. I still have mine! In this Plant Talk, I’m going to talk about another kind of cycle–a tree cycle, that […]
January 10, 2014
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Peony Revolution

Peony Revolution The founding of the United States of America, the crumbling of the Berlin wall, and last year’s Arab spring, were all revolutionary upheavals in the world that led to changes of monumental importance. A similar revolution has been occurring in the Peony world for the past 25 years. […]
February 19, 2013
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Metal Trees

Metal Trees How many of you out there are into Metal? You know—Heavy Metal—not the Switch Grass—or the music—or the art—or the scene. I’m talkin’ about the TREES, MAN!!! METAL TREES!!! Dudes!!! Dudettes!!! I don’t mean trees that are manufactured in fake Christmas tree factories. I’m talking about real trees […]
December 11, 2012
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Understanding Cold Hardiness

Understanding Cold Hardiness The hardiness of Wisconsinites is seldom matched. We can take whatever nature throws at us and revel in it. We bask in our cold, snowy winters. Heck, some of us even take off our shirts in freezing temperatures at Packer games in Lambeau Field in January. We […]
October 30, 2012
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A Tree For Me, Hickory

A Tree For Me, Hickory If I were to be so fortunate as to someday be interviewed by Barbara Walters, I would be ready to answer her famous question, “If you could be a twee, what kind of twee would you want to be?” (“twee”, meaning “tree” in Barbara Walter-eese). […]
October 1, 2012
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Sumacs: The Good, the Bad & the Beautiful

Every time I hear Clint Eastwood in the news, it brings to mind his movie, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". What a great movie! If films were made for and by plants, I think Sumacs would have had the leading roles in the slightly different but photosynthetically correct version of a movie called, The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful.
August 31, 2012
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Going to Drought School – Class of 2012

Going to Drought School – Class of 2012 We talk about the drought of 2012, just like the old timers talk about the drought of ‘88, and the real old timers talk about the drought of ‘36. 2012 had an amazing stretch of weather, and just like the droughts of […]
August 1, 2012
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Big Perennials for Big Kids

Big Perennials for Big Kids Big Perennials for Big Kids I like cute little plants like ‘Firewitch’ Dianthus and ‘Lucerne’ Blue-Eyed Grass. I also like plants that have an airy texture like Prairie Dropseed or Switch Grass. I just love the subtle beauty of Musclewood flowers, these tiny jewels of […]
July 5, 2012
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Physocarpus ‘Phor-all-of-us’ When I was going to school back in the 70’s, Physocarpus opulifolius — Common Ninebark was considered by many to be a pedestrian plant. It was thought of as ordinary or somewhat wild looking. It was viewed in a similar light as Zabel’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica ‘Zabelii’), which […]
September 21, 2000
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Where Ecology Meets Economy: 2015

Season 3: Getting personal with the land In September 2015, Johnson’s Nursery and SEWISC (Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium) hosted the third meeting of Where Ecology Meets Economy—A Forum for Green Industry and Land Management Professionals. The theme of the day was land ethic, which I define as a person’s […]
September 20, 2000
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Where Ecology Meets Economy: 2014

Season 2: Cultivation, invasion, ecotypes and nativars In September 2014, Johnson’s Nursery and SEWISC (Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium) hosted the second meeting of Where Ecology Meets Economy—A Forum for Green Industry and Land Management Professionals. It was the second educational get-together between the Green Industry and the Conservation communities […]