D&K Flowers Etc.

don-and-kathi-jpg.jpgDon and Kathi Wheeler are the cheery "D&K" of D&K Flowers Etc., a roadside business in Springfield, Missouri, that made a world of friends by selling extremely healthy, attractive plants with a definite emphasis on new and unusual varieties.
      Don and Kathi have now closed the business, sold the location, and moved on to other endeavors. Nonetheless, we have to keep them on the website because their contribution to the Ozarks gardening world is too valuable to let go and their achievements should continue to serve a great reference for gardeners and a model and inspiration for all creative and innovative plant growers and sellers.
      In addition to their superb choices of plant stock, for which Don modestly gave Kathi all the credit, this amiable couple were always a real pleasure to deal with. We thank them for their superb plant selections, their hard work, and their good humor and wish them every success in the future. They deserve it.
      Now, have a look at some truly extraordinary plants that grow beautifully in the Ozarks.

The Invitation

D&K Flowers Etc. at first sight promises an easy, informal time shopping for outstanding nursery goodies.

Come on In

Judy Patterson, filling in on this particular day, flashed a cheery smile--and she meant it.

Susan Cargill, who evidently was born with a hose in her hand (we've never seen her when she wasn't watering), is a big contributor to D&K's reputation for keeping plants in superb condition and good customer service. We don't think she'd mind if we also said she has a great sense of humor. But maybe she would. We'd better ask her.

Special Treats--Rio Purslane
Let's get right to some special D&K offerings. Kathi loves Purslane and The Rio series of Purslane hybrids (Portulaca grandiflora species) developed by Ball Horticultural features larger, more tropical-looking flowers than most
Purslanes. The plants grow to 8 inches tall and 16 inches wide.The red here is  'Rio Scarlet' and the yellow 'Rio Yellow.'  As Purslanes are succulents, they need well-drained soil, light watering, and time to dry between waterings. They love full sun and will take high summer heat and are perfect for edging borders, hanging baskets, spot plantings, and containers.

'Rio Apricot' Purslane

We're not sure why they call this pinkish Purslane 'Rio Apricot,' but they do. In any event, it's lovely and has all the virtues of the other Rio hybrids.

'Rio Orange' Purslane

The 'Rio Orange' Purslane flower is especially engaging, we think, for its bright orange petals and glowing yellow centers.

'Fairytales Cinderella' Purslane

In the Fairytales series of Purslane, also developed by Ball Horticultural, 'Fairytales Cinderella' (Portulaca oleracea 'Fairytales Cinderella') sports small, jewel-like flowers with flat yellow petals and pink-to-orange-pink centers. It grows about 8 inches high with a 24-inch spread. Note: The yellow flowers belong to 'Rio Yellow' Purslane, which has similar features.  

'Fairytales Sleeping Beauty' Purslane

Another in the Fairytales series of Portulaca hybrids, 'Fairytales Sleeping Beauty' features double yellow flowers.

'Orange Verdolaga' Purslane

is Spanish for the Portulaca, or Purslane, which is commonly used as a vegetable in many Latin American countries. Also used as a salad green in France and other European countries,the plant is said to resemble watercress in flavor and consistency. The species, Portulaca oleracea, is also a common weed in the U.S. Like other Portulacas, this beautiful hybrid should be given full sun.

For Fun

Every year Kathi, who doesn't lack for a sense of humor, whips up a garden-to-go for a favorite customer with this three-wheeled bike.

Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera Daisies (Gerbera Jamesonii), also known as African Daisies, Transvaal Daisies, and Barberton Daisies, are almost stunningly vivid in color. They do beautifully in Ozarks gardens if given full sun and rich, well-drained soil. To avoid rot, plant them with the crowns above the soil and never water from overhead. They grow 10-18 inches tall and make superb cut flowers lasting up to two weeks in water.

'Pink Versicolor' Hibiscus

'Pink Versicolor' Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Pink Versicolor'), given full sun, provides a profusion of large, gorgeous pink blooms with reddish centers throughout the season. The flowers contrast beautifully with its rich, glossy green foliage. Said to grow as tall as 8-10 feet and 2 feet wide, it's become a favorite with gardeners who like the tropical touch.

'Sunny Wind' Hibiscus

We apologize for this lackluster photo, which doesn't begin to do  this marvelous plant justice. 'Sunny Wind' Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Sunny Wind') is a tropical plant that features dense, dark green foliage and brilliant yellow, 6-inch-wide flowers with crimson centers. It can reach 3 feet in height with a similar spread and is virtually spectacular in the garden or in containers.

'Luna Pink Swirl' Hibiscus

Okay, we have to say it. We think 'Luna Pink Swirl' Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Pink Swirl') quite simply the most beautiful Hibiscus we've ever seen. We love the huge white bloom, the rose blush, and the burgundy center. We also like that it grows beautifully in the Ozarks, taking our fiercest sun and heat, and that it attracts bees and hummingbirds. This perennial grows to 3 feet tall and once established produces a great many flowers. Note: Be sure to give it plenty of water in the fall to help it winter over.

'Mauve Delight' Brachyscome

'Mauve Delight' Brachyscome (Brachyscome angustifolia 'Mauve Delight') is an extremely likable, colorful, low-growing perennial ideal for ground cover, rock gardens, borders, and containers. Covered with small, daisylike mauve-pink flowers nearly all season, it grows vigorously to a foot tall and 15 inches wide. It likes full sun to partial shade and moist soil. Brachyscomes are sometimes called Swan River Daisy. Note: This one is also very attractive to butterflies.

Magilla Perilla

Magilla Perilla may look like a coleus, but it's actually a colorful member of the mint family. A hybrid of the species Perilla frutescens, it grows quickly and vigorously in full sun or light shade. It can take our Ozarks summer heat and will grow 12-18 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide. A great choice for adding spot color to the garden and containers, too.

Aurora Raspberry Coleus

Coleus have become terrifically popular with home gardeners and for good reason--new hybrids are producing spectacular colors and color patterns. To wit, the Aurora Raspberry Coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes hybrid). Growing to 12 inches tall and as wide, this annual is gorgeous in garden or landscape and, like all coleus, a powerful complement to other plants in containers. It does best in partial sun.

Kong Mosaic Coleus

Kong Mosaic Coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes hybrid) features huge, very showy leaves with cherry-red centers, creamy variegations, and splashes of red. This beautiful annual prefers shade or partial shade and grows to 22 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

Kong Red Coleus

Kong Red Coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes hybrid) is another coleus with very large leaves, these a pale green with a vivid red midrib and dark burgundy veins. This beautiful annual is showiest planted in sunny locations, where it grows quickly to 18 inches tall with a similar spread. Note: If you find this one at the nursery or garden center, best snap it up, as it tends to sell out quickly.

Lava Rose Trailing Coleus

Lava Rose Trailing Coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes hybrid) is an absolutely unique coleus that grows in a mound as tall as 18 inches and also trails to a length of 24 inches. A fast grower, it prefers partial sun and is especially effective in hanging baskets, mixed baskets, and containers. As you can see, the coloration is wonderful.

'Stained Glassworks Kiwi Fern' Coleus

'Stained Glassworks Kiwi Fern' Coleus (Solenostemen scutellarioides species) is an intiguing novelty in the vigorous and highly colorful Stained Glassworks series of coleus developed for landscaping. It grows to 19 inches tall and 21 inches wide and needs warmer, 70-85-degree day temperatures, good soil, and ample moisture. It will grow in full sun but develops deeper color in the shade.

Joseph's Coat

Joseph's Coat (Amaranthus tricolor) is a spectacular tropical plant that grows beautifully in the Ozarks as a tender annual. Given full sun it can grow to 4 feet tall and as wide. Common names include Fountain Plant, Summer Poinsettia, Love-Lies-Bleeding, and Princess Feather. Note: This plant has been famed world-wide for many generations and in fact was brought to America by Thomas Jefferson in 1786.

'Burgundy Wine' Euphorbia

'Burgundy Wine' Euphorbia (Euphorbia cotinifolia 'Burgundy Wine') can be a real highlight in the garden, thanks to its rich burgundy foliage. An annual in the Ozarks, this plant likes partial sun to full sun. It grows slowly to a height of 2-5 feet and in summer bears very small, dainty yellow blossoms that contrast nicely wtth the foliage.

'So Sweet' Hosta

The 'So Sweet' hosta is a real winner, literally. It has so many virtues that it was named the 1996 American Hosta Growers Hosta of the Year. It features glossy green leaves with wide, creamy white margins,an unusually quick growth rate, and  very fragrant white flowers in late summer. It that all weren't enough, it also has a very neat mounding habit and can grow to 28 inches tall and as wide.

Starlight Impatiens

Impatiens are one of the top 10 annual flowers in America for their vivid color, attractive foliage, ease of culture, and general dependability in the garden and landscape. Starlight Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana hybrids) are among the best for shade on all counts. Note: There are some 1,000 impatiens species in cultivation.

'Sweet Caroline' Sweet Potato Vine
sweet-caroline-sweet-potato-vine.jpg'Sweet Caroline Green and Yellow' Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Sweet Caroline Green and Yellow') has deeply lobed green leaves lightly splashed with yellow and chartreuse. it's superb in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes or any other trailing situation, or in the garden. In full sun to part shade it grows to 2 feet in length. Note: If you get hungry, guess what, the root really is an edible sweet potato.

'Key Lime Pie' Coral Bells

We hate to state the obvious, but 'Key Lime Pie' Coral Bells (Heuchera 'Dolce Key Lime Pie') is so the color of key lime pie that it looks good enough to eat. Another of the newer Coral Bell hybrids, it's a perennial perfect for shady gardens. It grows in a clump 10-14 inches wide and the foliage looks good all year-round. The plant will take some sun, but in the Ozarks should be protected from our full-out hot afternoon summer sun.

Non-Stop Orange Begonia

The Non-Stop Begonia series features compact, exceptionally vigorous plants with masses of perfect double flowers. Ideal for low borders, window boxes, and mixed containers, they come in rich, vivid red, orange, yellow, pink, white. and copper flower colors.

Non-Stop Yellow Begonia

The Non-Stop Yellow Begonia is another ideal plant for those who truly love vivid flower colors. Next to it is the Non-Stop Red Begonia.

Pony Tails and Weeping Brown Sedge
Pony Tails Grass (Stipa tenuissima) is an usually graceful, flowing, drought-tolerant perennial grass that likes full sun and grows 12 to 18 inches tall. The plumes dried are very attractive. Pony Tail Grass is also known as Silky Thread Grass, Mexican Feather Grass, and Mexican Needle Grass. Weeping Brown Sedge Grass (Carex flagellifera) is a flowing, fine-textured coppery brown perennial grass that grows to 20 inches tall. It likes full sun or light shade and moist, fertile, well-drained soil. It also tolerates heat and drought.

Golden Variegated Sweet Flag Grass

Golden Variegated Sweet Flag Grass (Acorus gramineus) is an evergreen perennial grass with swordlike leaves that keep their green and buttery-yellow coloration all year 'round. It grows upright to 14 inches tall and as wide and is extremely low maintenance. Great for contrast in the garden, it also serves beautifully in containers, especially as a middle-ground plant.

Fiber Optic Grass

Fiber Optic Grass (Isolepsis [Scirpus] cernus) is a marvelous novelty, a grasslike plant whose hairlike blades and tiny fluffy white flowers look uncannily like fiber optic strands. An annual in our Ozarks climate, it grows in a mound to 14 inches tall and as wide, tolerates heat, and is very low maintenance. Novel in the garden and good in containers, it can also be kept as a houseplant.

'Peter's Gold Carpet'

'Peter's Gold Carpet' (Bidens ferulifolia 'Peter's Gold Carpet') can grow to 24 inches high and as wide. It features very lacy foliage and fragrant buttery-gold flowers that bloom in midsummer to early fall. The plant is very attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. It might survive a very mild Ozarks winter, but is probably best grown as an annual. Bonus: It reseeds freely.

'Blue Spruce' Sedum

'Blue Spruce' Sedum (Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce') is a marvelous ground cover whose bluish coloration and extremely uniform texture seem identical to the foliage of Blue Spruce, lending a softening effect wherever it's planted. This perennial loves full sun and takes heat and drought. It's superb in rock gardens, rock walls, walkways, and containers. It grows quickly to as tall as a foot and two feet wide.

'New Gold' Lantana

'New Gold' Lantana (Lantana x 'New Gold') features profuse clusters of brilliant yellow flowers from spring till frost. This trailing annual is superb as a groundcorver, a garden accent, and especially in hanging baskets. Easy to grow, it can reach 15 inches tall and 24 inches wide, takes heat, and drought. Like  all lantanas, it's terrifically attractive to butterflies.

'Silver Mound' Artemisia
silver-mound-artemisia-jpg.jpg'Silver Mound' Artemisia (Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound') is much loved by gardeners for its fine-textured silvery foliage and neat, compact, mounding habit. This superb border perennial prefers full sun and grows to 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Common names include Wormwood, Mugwort, and Ghost Plant. It's also sometimes called Dusty Miller, a name more commonly applied to another plant, Senecio cineraria.

Two Great Spireas
spireas-jpg.jpgIt would be hard to find two more engaging shrubs for the garden or landscape than the 'Gold Mound' Spirea or the 'Little Princess' Spirea, both of the Spirea japonica species. 'Gold Mound', barely discernible at the upper left of the picture, features very striking golden foliage in spring that turns chartreuse in summer and rich yellow-orange in fall. Pink flower clusters appear in late spring to fall. Given full sun, the plant grows to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. 'Little Princess' features an abundance of showy rose-pink flowers against attractive mint-green foliage and a nicely rounded, compact habit. Given full sun it grows to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Note:  The flowers of both of these hybrids attract butterflies and make excellent cut flowers.

Fall Fun

Kath likes to make fall fanciful and festive with a whole family of whimsical scarecrows, hay bales, leaf wreaths, and a world of pumpkins, squash, gourds, and colorful mums. She can do it, too.

Cornstalks Galore

Lots of Ozarks folk love decorating for the harvest time holidays, and dried cornstalks are a favorite especially for Thanksgiving. This crop came taller than ever--at least 10 feet--along with lots of dried ears of corn and Kathi arranged all into a neat row.


This amazing collection of pumpkins blew us away for being plumper, maybe prettier, and certainly more symmetrical than any we'd ever seen. Don and Kathi liked 'em too.

Pumpkins and Flowering Kale
Flowering Kale, sometimes called Ornamental Kale, provide wonderful color and texture in the garden, in containers, or on the table in autumn. They include many varieties and the interior leaf rosettes may be white, red, pink, lavender, blue, or violet. Can you eat them? Of course you can, and they're nutritious as all get-out. One major caution: If you're thinking of eating nursery kale, always ask if it's been sprayed with insecticides, and if it has, or you suspect it has, don't eat it.

'Golden Andrea' Mum

Mums are without equal for bringing brilliant color to fall and the ' Golden Andrea' Mum (Chrysanthemum x Morifolium ' Golden Andrea') is a truly outstanding example. Its beautiful mounding habit and huge profusion of lovely golden flowers make it superb the garden or in containers. Will it winter over the in the garden? Always ask your local nurseryperson, because with mums hardiness always varies by geographical location.

'Harmony' Mum

The 'Harmony' Mum is truly distinctive for producing a great abundance of gorgeous bicolor flowers, red-bronze in the center and gold-bronze to yellow in the outer petals. It grows in a mound that can reach 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide.

A 'Delicious' Mum?

Kathi's not sure, but she thinks 'Pink Delicious' may be the varietal name of this mum. It was one of several that came from the supplier without plant labels. Whatever the name, its flowers are unique in blending many shades of rose and pink.

What To Do With Those Old Boots

One major delight of visiting D&K was discovering Kathi's more whimsical surprises. To wit, these boots.... 

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