Nature's Best To You.

Welcome to Plant Talk

by Mike Yanny
  • Wisconsin's Native Oaks

    February 20, 2017

    No tree symbolizes strength and longevity more than the mighty oak. It has been revered by people all over the world for thousands of years. For me personally, oaks have been a significant part of my life. They have helped sustain me both economically and emotionally. I have grown hundreds of thousands of them over my 35 year career as a propagator-grower. I just love oaks. To be able to grow them is an honor to me.



  • Sugar Maple: The King of the Woods

    October 24, 2016

    Sugar Maple is important to us here in Wisconsin and that is why it is appropriate that it was made our State Tree in 1949. I think a lot of people in Wisconsin have a bit of Sugar Maple-like personality in them. Fall color is what I think of most when the topic of Sugar Maple is brought up. To me, this is the tree that defines fall color in Wisconsin. Our field tests at Johnson’s Nursery have shown that some of the best performing cultivars for our part of Wisconsin.



  • Plant Sex: Where Do Baby Plants Come From?

    February 12, 2016

    If people realized how much sex is going on outside each day in the summer, our flower gardens would have to be rated like movies are. You know that expression, “teaching him about the birds and the bees”, well that is what I'm doing here. It is really quite amazing when you think about it! My wife opened my eyes to sex in a very natural way. My goal is to answer many of the questions you've always wanted to ask.



  • Getting Personal with the Land

    December 4, 2015

    On September 9, 2015 the Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium (SEWISC) and Johnson’s Nursery held the 3rd Where Ecology Meets Economy forum at the nursery. The theme of the day was land ethic, which I define as a person’s conscientious connection to his or her natural surroundings including: the land, air, water, and all of its associated organisms. The weather was perfect, and it included a mix of attendees from many different disciplines.



  • The Trautman Plants

    August 24, 2015

    Herbert F. Trautman is deeply engrained in the history of Southeastern Wisconsin's green industry. His contributions of arborvitae, pine, and juniper plants, along with his technical skills in grafting and propagation procedures, have earned him a prime spot in the history books of our regions green industry. I will personally be grateful to him for taking me under his wing and teaching me about plants and life.



  • Salivating for Salvias

    June 15, 2015

    Salvia is the most extensive of all genera in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with over 700 species including shrubs, annuals and perennial types. The common name of Salvia is Sage. The herb called sage that is used in cooking is a type of Salvia (Salvia officinalis). For this article, Im going to concentrate on five outstanding cultivars we grow at Johnsons Nursery of the perennial species Salvia nemerosa (sometimes called Salvia superba or sylvestris).



  • Homegrown

    April 20, 2015

    Plants that are available to buy can be significantly inferior to the ones we can home grow. With the passing of time, things have changed. We have grown up, matured and now refer to homegrown as those fabulous, flavorful Wisconsin grown tomatoes. When it comes to nursery stock, its not so clear cut. In some cases, locally grown nursery stock makes all the difference in the world.



  • Where Have All the Young Trees Gone?

    February 23, 2015

    Read on as Mike Yanny tackles the cold hard truth of tree shortages in nurseries right now, with the exception of the availability of larger sizes materials. There are many ways to have success in this time of shortages. If you order now for fall or next spring you will have a much better chance of obtaining the plants than if you wait to place an order. Mike also created his own version of Where Have All the Flowers Gone! Enjoy.



  • Ecology Meets Economy-Again!!!

    December 5, 2014

    This article provides highlights from the second season of Where Ecology Meets Economy: A Forum of Land Managers and Green Industry Experts, which was held on September 17, 2014. This event is co-hosted by Johnson's Nursery and SEWISC. Mike gives his highlights of the presentations, panel discussion and tours. Newly added this year was the filming of the presentations and an audio stream of Mike's poem reading.



  • Where Ecology Meets Economy: Season 2 Videos

    October 30, 2014

    The Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc. (SEWISC) and Johnsons Nursery, Inc." are pleased to present a ground-breaking day of educational sessions that bring together Green Industry Professionals (nurseries, landscape architects, arborists, contractors) and Land Management Professionals (restorationists, natural area managers, environmental educators, conservationists).



  • CSI-Milwaukee: What Happened to the Evergreens?

    May 9, 2014

    I first began noticing something was wrong in mid-March. The yews were brown. Little did I know that a month later other casualties would show up. I have been a CSI plant evaluator for over 34 years. This years damage to evergreens is the most extensive I have ever seen in our area. In order to make a determination of cause of death or damage I must analyze the evidence. My investigation of this years tragic set of events involving evergreen plants has been intriguing.



  • Tree Cycles

    February 10, 2014

    Many trees are not produced from seed but are bud grafted onto seedling or clonal understock as part of the liner production. The vast majority of this type of material is purchased from specialized whip producers in Oregon. Most of these plants will take four or five years to develop a 2 caliper tree from a 5- 7 foot whip or light branched plant. Mike explores the 6 stages of the average tree production cycle which can take 12-13 years to complete.



  • Where Ecology Meets Economy

    November 14, 2013

    This past September Johnsons Nursery and SEWISC (Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium) hosted a meeting called Where Ecology Meets Economy: A Forum for Green Industry and Land Management Professionals. It was quite a successful event. Everyone fit comfortably into our warehouse building along with an impressive array of sponsors and some tasty food. We had 149 people attend from a wide range of professions...



  • What's The Deal?

    April 17, 2013

    About a year ago, Johnsons Nursery, Inc." sprouted an offshoot of sorts, in the form of a new business called JN Plant Selections, LLC. It is a plant development and introduction company owned and operated by yours truly, Michael Yanny. My company has purchased the rights (patents and trademarked names) to all of the plant introductions that had originated at Johnsons Nursery over the past 32 years.



  • Metal Trees

    February 19, 2013

    How many of you out there are into Metal? You knowHeavy Metalnot the Switch Grassor the musicor the artor the scene. Im talkin about the TREES, MAN!!! METAL TREES!!! Dudes!!! Dudettes!!! I dont mean trees that are manufactured in fake Christmas tree factories. Im talking about real trees here, ones with bark that looks metallic. Trees with trunks that can be mistaken for copper water pipes. Im talking branches that shine like a buffed out DeLorean.



  • Understanding Cold Hardiness

    December 11, 2012

    People from Wisconsin are considered a hardy bunch. 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 are hardy, even though some of us are not always smart about it. When it comes to plant hardiness, it is actually a bit more complicated than with humans.



  • A Tree for Me, Hickory

    October 30, 2012

    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). A Shagbark Hickory to be specific. You see, just thinking about the tree brings back sentimental thoughts of my youth. It brings a tear to my eye. Barbara Walters would be proud.



  • Sumacs: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

    October 1, 2012

    With Clint Eastwood being in the news lately, 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. Sumacs can be heroes with character flaws, just like Clint Eastwood in the movie.



  • Going to Drought School

    August 31, 2012

    The Drought of 2012. We'll be talking about this year's weather for the rest of our lives, just like the old timers now talk about the drought of '88 and the real old timers talk about the drought of '36. This has been an amazing stretch of weather, and just like the droughts of '36 and '88, we can learn from it. These are some of the lessons I learned at Drought School 2012. The biggest surprise was the incredible declines of certain plants in established, unwatered landscapes.



  • Big Perennials for Big Kids

    August 1, 2012

    Big plants are impressive! Being the big kid he still is, Mike has never gotten over the thrill of growing large plants. He shares with you some of his favorite large perennials such as Giant Fleece Flower (Persicaria polymorpha) and Gateway Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway'). Mike pictures and describes the list of his favorite plants, including some plants with leaves bigger than his head!



  • Physocarpus 'Phor-all-of-us'

    July 6, 2012

    When I was going to school back in the 1970s, 'Physocarpus opulifolius', or Common Ninebark was considered by many to be a pedestrian plant. It was thought of as an ordinary or somewhat wild looking plant. It was viewed in a similar light as Zabels Honeysuckle, 'Lonicera tatarica' Zabelii, which is now banned in about 30 states, not because it is ugly, but because its invasive, although it is pretty ugly.



  • The Peony Revolution

    June 1, 2012

    The founding of the USA, 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. Yep, Peonies, those renegades that used to be associated with grandmas everywhere are now causing a wonderful ruckus that is changing how we see the world.



  • The Significance of Nativars for use in Landscaping

    May 7, 2012

    What is a nativar? In the last few months 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 native plant. In this way, you can define your native range and call a cultivar or hybrid that originated from that range a nativar.



  • Redbud in Wisconsin

    March 12, 2012

    Here at Johnson's Nursery we have been growing Redbud trees for about 30 years. 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 have magenta, pink flowers that outline the branches in mid-May. The flower display is similar to what one sees when people wrap their tree branches with strings of lights during the holiday season.



  • Timing is Everything!

    February 15, 2012

    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 Locker's floral and greenhouse, I would have had a completely different life. You wouldn't be reading these words right now because I wouldn't be working at Johnson's.



  • Getting Wild!

    January 4, 2012

    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 edge of our property but not in our nursery. And I didn't know that Hairy Wild Petunia even existed. Things have really changed. We get more and more requests for native plants and have continued to expand our selection of both seedling material and cultivars of native plants.



  • Native Junipers You Should Know

    November 3, 2011

    "Native Junipers You Should Know- Juniperus virginiana and Juniperus communis," was chosen because 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 like these. Honestly, they were ugly. The bottom needles would turn brown and the plants wouldn't let go of them. Persistent brown needles is not a characteristic that you want in your Junipers.



  • Welcome & Crabapples for the Birds

    October 6, 2011

    I have been working at Johnson's Nursery for 31 years now. I've learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes, and have been fortunate not to be fired over that considerable amount of time. Johnson's Nursery, Inc. hired me in 1980 to be a propagator as well as help with harvesting (digging), sales, and writing marketing materials, among other things. I was 23 and I could do it all, or so I told them, and so they thought.




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