|A Cheery Welcome|
A bright and colorful border of mixed flowers greets visitors to the 90-year-old Wickman's Garden Village at 1345 S. Fort Ave. in Springfield, Missouri. Gardeners in Monett, Missouri, and surrounds can also shop their own Wickman's at 1089 E. Highway 60 in that town.
Wickman's general manager Nikki Petitt can often be caught smiling, and the smile grows even broader when she finds herself creating scarecrows for Wickman's Annual Fall Festival.
|The Giant Watering Can|
Genial Bob Griffin, who lives in Battlefield, Missouri, is a 17-year Wickman's employee who does "a lot of different things" around the nursery. He also happens to be a real artist, with a real sense of humor, as this amazing creation attests.
Wickman's greenhouse manager Shirley Anderson had good reason to smile after raising 12,000 mums and an ocean of pansies for fall customers. Shirley's daughter Ashton may also have the horticulture bug--she sometimes works with Fassnight Creek Farm at the Greater Springfield Farmer's Market.
|'Cleopatra' Canna Lily|
For many, the 'Cleopatra' Canna Lily is simply breathtaking. The plant grows to 4 1/2 feet tall and bears unusually large flowers of red and yellow in varying patterns. The foliage is green with occasional purple streaks. In full sun it does spectacularly well in the Ozarks, blooming from July into September.
One of the most exciting recent developments in plant culture has been the "Big Sky" series of coneflowers--crosses between the Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea paradoxa species. The results are coneflowers in new colors from yellows to oranges to reds. The curious color tone of this 'Sundown' coneflower is transitional, as the blooms turn from pink to bright orange to soft purple-pink. This plant can reach 30 inches tall and 24 inches wide and thrives in full sun and average to dry soil. If you find one, snap it up, because they tend to sell out early.
Ornamental Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is a nice surprise for gardeners out for the unusual. This variety is probably 'Purple Majesty,' named an All-America selection in 2003. It grows to 5 feet tall and flower heads add another 8-12 inches. Its long, slender leaves turn purple with maturity and exposure to the sun. It's easy to grow, heat-and-drought tolerant, and grows in sun or part shade, producing the deepest color in full sun. By the way, birds love the seed.
|Good Luck Plant|
Good Luck Plant (Oxalis quadrangularis) is an engaging South American plant that features 4-leaf-cloverlike leaves with a dark purple center and bears delicate, pale pink flowers. Like all Oxalis, it can be grown indoors as a houseplant or outside in the garden when the weather warms. It does best in full sun but will also grow in light shade and likes to be fed occasionally.
|The biggest job|
Keeping so many plants healthy and attractive is a huge job, but Wickman's does it on a daily basis, thanks to Justin Sanders and the rest of the nursery crew.
|'Angel's Blush' Hydrangea|
'Angel's Blush' (Hydrangea paniculata 'Ruby') is an especially showy Hydrangea that bears beautiful 10-inch-long clusters of white flowers that gradually turn rosy red in late summer and fall. The clusters are long-lasting. The plant grows to 8-12 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide.
|Flowering trees and more...|
Wickman's is known for providing gardeners distinctive plants of all kinds, including unique flowering trees such as this Malus species 'Weeping Candied Apple' Crabapple. With its soft-pink blossoms and red fruit, this tree develops a beautiful weeping habit. It can grow to 15 feet tall and is highly disease resistant.
The Jane Magnolia (Magnolia x 'Jane') is among the earliest-blooming, loveliest trees to grow in the Ozarks. Here already blooming in 6-inch pots, once planted it will grow vigorously in full sun or part shade into an upright, multi-trunked deciduous tree as tall as 25-30 feet and 20 feet wide. It bears its fragrant flowers first on bare stems, then after leafing out reblooms sporadically into fall.
Another beautiful tree for spring is the 'Aristocrat' Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Aristocrat'), which bears an abundance of lovely snow-white blossoms in early May. Ideal for restricted spaces, the tree grows in a somewhat pyramidal shape to a height of 40-50 feet with a simiilar spread. Its glossy ight green foliage turns purplish-red in fall. A more dominant trunk and open form make it less vulnerable to wind damage than Bradford pear. Its fruits are brownish tan and inconspicuous. Common names include Flowering Pear and Callery Pear.
|'Sugar Tyme' flowering crabapple|
'Sugar Tyme', a cultivar of Malus 'Sutyzam', is one of the top ten recommended flowering crabapples for its exceptional beauty in all four seasons of the year. It features dense masses of sugar-white blossoms in spring, crisp green foliage in summer, and glossy red fruit in autumn. The fruit lasts through winter and into spring, providing food for the spring songbirds. Awwww....
|Red Cutleaf Japanese Maple|
The Red Cutleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum) is considered by many the loveliest of all trees for the home landscape, its finely cut leaves and warm red color making it virtually irresistible. This slow-growing tree can reach 8 feet in height with a graceful spread of 10-12 feet. It will grow in full sun, but in the hot Ozarks summers and similar climates does best in filtered shade. Give it well-drained soil and do not allow it to dry out completely or leaf tips may burn.
|'Zuni' Crape Myrtle|
'Zuni' Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica 'Zuni') bears clouds of unusually lovely lavender blossoms from July to September. Highly vigorous, it can reach 11 feet in height and spread if left unpruned; however, if cut back to about 8 inches in winter, it'll grow to about 4 feet tall the following year. 'Zuni' also has superb mildew resistance.
|'Royal Star' Star Magnolia|
'Royal Star' Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star') has large white, fragrant star-like blooms in early spring. It grows as a multibranched shrub if left alone, but also with judicious pruning can be trained as a tree. It grows 15-20 feet tall and 12 feet wide and is especially reliable in areas with late frosts.
|'Sargent' flowering crabapple|
'Sargent Flowering Crabapple' (Malus 'Sargentii') is a smaller flowering crabapple with unusually attractive small, single, white, fragrant flowers and small, bright red fruit. It grows 6-8-feet tall and 15 feet wide. As this specimen shows, it's also beautiful when espaliered
The Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is familiar to virtually all Missourians for its early spring presence. A superb understory tree, it brightens yards and gardens throughout the Ozarks. These superbly healthy specimens are nicely wrapped and ready to go to their new homes.
Wickman's treats for the gardener include some excellent roses. This 'Rio Samba' hybrid tea, an All-America Selection in 1993, features yellow blossoms with rose-orange edges and a light, fresh fragrance. As a New Generation rose, it isn't grafted but actually grows on its own rootstock. It can reach 4 feet tall.
|'Light My Fire' Rose|
The 'Light My Fire' Rose is an eyecatcher extraordinaire in the garden by virtue of its vivid red-orange blossoms and glossy dark-green foliage. A floribunda rose, it grows to 2 1/2 feet tall and as wide with a nicely attractive compact and rounded shape.
|Flower Carpet Scarlet Rose|
The Flower Carpet series roses are widely considered the best ground cover and landscape roses available. Their features include masses of blossoms all season long, very glossy green foliage, vigorous growth, and the best disease resistance of all roses. Scarlet (Rosa 'Flower Carpet Scarlet') has velvet scarlet blossoms and can grow to 24-32 inches tall and 40 inches wide. Besides Scarlet, the series includes Amber, Appleblossom, Coral, Yellow, Pink, Pink Supreme, Red, and White.
|Flower Carpet Coral Rose|
The coral-color Flower Carpet rose has the same cultural characteristics as the scarlet variety.
|'Our Lady of Guadalupe' Rose|
'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is a floribunda rose in the Fortuniana series of roses developed for the light, excessively well-drained, high-temperature soil peculiar to coastal areas. As such, it does beautifully in our hottest Ozarks summers, bearing clusters of exquisite, beautifully formed, silvery-pink flowers all season long. The rose for some has religious significance and has been blessed by the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Landscape designer Becky Nicholas keeps busy with the nursery's thriving landscaping operation.
|Northern Sea Oats|
One of the most beautiful of ornamental grasses, Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) can thrive in full sun, part shade, or total shade. It grows 2-3 feet tall and 2 feet wide in fertile, well-drained soil. Gardeners love its slender, arching habit, bamboo-like foliage, and, especially, its showy flowers, which make it absolutely superb in dried arrangements. To see the flowers, click here.
|Golden Japanese Forest Grass|
With its brilliant yellow leaves with thin green stripes, Golden Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola') is a gorgeous groundcover perfect for shady areas. It grows slowly to 18 inches tall and as wide and does best with partial sun. It's an excellent focal point in the garden and thrives in containers as well.
|Nymphaea Pink Waterlily|
Wickman's also carries some beautiful water plants. This is one of several pink waterlily varieties that go by the name "Nymphaea Pink Waterlily," Nymphaea being the genus name. We don't know the varietal name of this one, but we do know that it most likely favors neutral-to-alkaline pH water and and should be planted in May to late June in the Ozarks..
The 'Fanfare' Gaillardia (Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Fanfare') is an extremely happy accident. Originating as a chance seedling, this perennial from spring to fall bears an enormous number of gorgeous flowers with fluted yellow-and-red petals and dark red centers. Given full sun, it forms a compact mound 14 inches high and 18 inches wide--perfect for beds, borders, and containers. Each plant can have as many as 100 flowers. Oh, and like all Gaillardias, it's also known as Indian Blanket Flower.
|Nymphaea 'Marliacea Chromatella'|
Nymphaea 'Marliacea Chromatella' is a hardy waterlily that does beautifully in full sun to part shade. Easy to grow, it has notched light olive-green leaves and from June to September bears showy pale-yellow flowers with deeper yellow centers. Each flower lasts about five days, and one plant can grow to cover an area 6 feet.in diameter.
|A Snowy 'Bright Edge'|
This 'Bright Edge' Yucca (Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge', also known as "Adam's Needle") is a striking plant year-round and especially so in winter. This specimen from Wickman's bought in the summer really stood out on November 30 in the season's first snow. 'Bright Edge' can reach 2-5-feet tall and 20 inches wide and in early summer sends up a spike of white bell-shaped flowers. With full sun and drier soil, it does beautifully in the Ozarks.
|Ally at Work|
Ally Neal, Wickman's horticulturist, carefully makes a geranium cutting.
|Ready to Plant|
The cutting's ready to plant. How many geraniums will Wickman's grow for sale in the spring? Are you sitting down? Twenty-thousand.
|On the Go|
Pat Scammahorn, specializes in sales and customer service, is off to tend to other chores.
It's intensely red blossoms with raised centers have made 'Bravo' a favorite garden mum throughout the world.
|'Lorraine Sunshine' Heliopsis|
'Lorraine Sunshine' Heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides 'Lorraine Sunshine') is a marvel of visual interest in the garden, from the lacy variegation of the leaves to the bright 'n beautiful yellow blossoms. A perennial, it grows 24-36 inches tall with a similar spread, is heat-tolerant, likes sun and well-drained soil, and naturalizes well. Heliopsis are also commonly known as False Sunflower.
In late June the nursery had a bumper crop of exceptionally vigorous and beautiful Tithonia (Tithonia rotundifolia), more commonly called Mexican Sunflower--more than enough to keep greenhouse manager Shirley Anderson busy with the grooming.
|A Sense of Humor Helps|
Ally is also the nursery's perennial specialist, and here she manages a smile even after a season's worth of cleaning up Lamb's Ears.
|'Mongo' Butterfly Bush|
We think this is the Monrovia Company's 'Petite Indigo' Dwarf Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii nanhoensis 'Mongo'). It's a marvel of a plant that grows compactly to 5 feet tall and as wide and is loaded with slender flower heads that may range in color from lavender to reddish purple. It's size makes it ideal especially for cottage gardens, island plantings, or landscapes. Note: It's also known as ''Nanho Blue' or 'Petite Plum' Butterfly Bush and sometimes commonly called Summer Lilac.
|A Cooling Lunch|
Brian Bluhdorn, who does "about everything" at Wickman's--"seeding, planting, watering, you name it"--likes taking lunch breaks at a small water feature by the greenhouses. "It's cooler," he says.
|Fall at Wickman's|
Autumn at the nursery brings an extraordinary collection of colorful mums, asters, and other seasonal goodies..
'Hannah' is one of the most engaging orange mums for the garden, and one of the first varieties to flower in the fall. 'Hannah' and the next three mums are varieties produced by the Yoder company headquartered in Iowa, said to be the largest mum grower in the world.
|'Hot Salsa' Mums|
'Hot Salsa' mums bear a profusion of large, 2-inch-diameter daisy-like flowers on neat, compact plants. An eyecatcher.
|'Cupido Pink' Mums|
'Cupido' pink mums are an early flowering variety that bears exquisite shell-pink flowers with a hint of lavender.
The 'Celeste' aster (Aster novi-belgii 'Celeste') features blue-violet rays and yellow center disks. It needs full sun and grows to 2 1/2 feet tall and as wide, blooming profusely in August and September.
The 'Puff' aster (Aster novi-belgii 'Puff') is a real charmer, bearing a profusion of small, extra-neat white blossoms with yellow centers. Like all asters, it needs full sun and must have soil with good drainage. A standout in the garden.
|'Purple Viking' Aster|
The 'Purple Viking' Aster (Aster novi-belgii 'Purple Viking') is a darker purple than 'Celeste' and also an early bloomer. Very striking in the garden.
|'Blue Bird' Rose of Sharon|
We thought this marvelous plant was a modern hybrid when we first saw, but were surprised to learn that the 'Blue Bird' Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is an old-fasioned favorite heirloom shrub. Its bright blue flowers with red centers appear from late summer till fall and are long-lasting. It prefers full sun but will do well in partial shade. It can reach 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide and requires no pruning except for removing dead or damaged branches.
|'Turn of the Century' Hibiscus|
Wow. We can't speak for you, but we've just discovered 'Turn of the Century' Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Turn of the Century') and think it the most beautiful hibiscus we've ever seen. These amazing blossoms can be as large as 9 inches in diameter. The plant is very low-maintenance and grows to 8 feet tall with a 5-foot spread. It needs full sun and does best in medium to wet, organically rich soil, but will do well in ordinary garden soil if not allowed to dry out. It responds well to deadheading and after blooming is over in late autumn stems should be cut to about 4 inches.
|'South Seas' Daylily|
The 'South Seas' Daylily is a new variety sbsolutely unique in its colors and shadings of pink-coral and orange and many hues between. It grows to 30 inches tall with an 18-24-inch spread, and when it blooms each scape contain 30 or more flowers. 'South Seas' is one of the Designer Daylily Collection plants judged superior by a major daylily grower.
|'Cherry Berry' Hosta|
The diminutive 'Cherry Berry' Hosta features beautiful lance-like leaves with a bold white center edged with dark green margins that can trail into the white. As if that weren't charming enough, it bears purple flowers in July and August on reddish-color scapes, and the seedpods are cherry colored. We're pretty sure this is the dwarf, which grows to 10 inches high by 6 or 7 inches wide.
One of the best-liked of all hostas, 'Guacamole' has beautiful shiny chartreuse leaves with blue edges and, in late summer, strongly fragrant white flowers It grows to 20 inches high and 28 inches wide, loves light shade, and tolerates dry soil. A winner on every count, it was named Hosta of the Year in 2002 by the American Hosta Grower's Association. Note: For a good look at a full-grown 'Guacamole', click here.
|'Hanky Panky' Hosta|
This cluster of baby 'Hanky Panky' hostas eventually will produce a great number of most unusual and highly engaging adult plants. A sport of the beautiful hosta 'Striptease', this hosta's leaves have the same unusual color pattern as 'Striptease' (which you can see here) but the colors actually change through the season. The first leaves have green centers and cream margins, then gradually become creamy yellow with green margins. A vigorous grower, 'Hanky Panky' does well in light sun to full shade and will reach 16 inches high and 30 inches across. In midsummer it sends up lavender flowers.
'Pathfinder' is a very striking hosta that features very thick, slightly rounded, corrugated leaves with white centers flecked with green. It grows upright to 12-16 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide and bears pale lavender flowers in July and August. Note: Green flecks in hostas are said to be quite rare, making this plant more desirable to mahy gardeners.
'Paradigm' was named Hosta of the Year in 2007, and it's hardly a wonder, as the leaves can reach 11 inches long by 9 inches wide and start out chartreuse in the spring and turn greenish-gold as the season progresses. The plant grows quickly to 26 inches tall and 4 feet wide. Leaf margins are dark green and in midsummer very pale,
almost white flowers appear on 24-inch scapes. All told, this is a great specimen plant in any shade garden.
These marvelous "buttons" are the fruit of the Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a native Missouri shrub that can grow to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Greenhouse manager Shirley Anderson has one and loves it dearly. You can read more about it, and her truly remarkable neighborhood garden, here.
|'Blue River II Hibiscus'|
The spectacular 10-inch-wide pure-white flowers of the 'Blue River II' Hibiscus (Hibiscus x 'Blue River II') last only a day, but new ones open daily from late summer till the end of the season. This vigorous hibiscus needs full sun and moist soil, grows to 5 feet tall, and is ideal for containers and cut flowers. The foliage is deep green with a faint blue cast. Note: the name comes one of its parents, Hibiscus militans, which was found along southern Oklahoma's Blue River.
|The Shade Plants|
Wickman's has a separate greenhouse with a good selection of interesting shade plants, here tended by Ally and Pat.
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is native to many states, including Missouri. Given full sun and moist soil, it grows 4-5 feet tall in clumps 2-3 feet wide. It likes moist soil but does well in ordinary well-drained gardens. Its pink flower clusters in July and August are highly attractive to butterflies. Excellent plant for its native, semi-wild look, it shows best in sunny borders or beside streams, ponds, or water features. It's also ideal for moist areas in the landscape.
|'Mona Lavender' Plectranthus|
We don't know a more gratifying plant for full shade than this beauty--'Mona Lavender' Plectranthus (Plectranthus x 'Mona Lavender'), which features gorgeous deep-green, glossy foliage and a huge profusion of lovely lavender flower spikes from April through October. Related to Swedish Ivy, Creeping Charlie, and Mexican Mint, this marvel of a plant also does not spread freely but keeps its neat, compact habit.
|'Madame Wilfron Gonnere' Water Lily|
Wickman's also stocks some beautiful aquatic plants; for example, this beautiful 'Madame Wilfron Gonnere' Water Lily (Nymphaea hybrid). This classic water lily, introduced in 1912, is free-flowering and bears fragrant pink flowers up to six inches across. The flowers are double and deeper pink in the center, and the lilypads are round and green. Perfect in any size pond, it thrives in sun or partial shade.
|The Reddest Amaryllis|
This luscious plant in the Wickman's greenhouse--by far the reddest we've ever seen--stopped us in our tracks. We're betting it's the Red Lion Amaryllis, said to be the most popular Amaryllis for Christmas.
|Red & White Petunias|
|Hanging Basket Sale|
|Misaka Peony Up Close|
We were surprised last week when on a visit to Wickman's Garden
Village, the nursery's manager, Nikki Petitt, showed us this rather
amazing peony. Its name is 'Misaka', a Japanese word meaning "beautiful blossom." It's new in
the Itoh series
of peony hybrids named for Toichi Itoh, who in the 1940's was the first
person to cross a tree peony with an herbaceous peony. Nikki said the
nursery couldn't resist ordering four of the plants, even though they
currently cost about $100 apiece. She hopes, and expects, that 'Misaka''
will be available at lower cost next year.
Not quite as striking as the Peony above, but certainly engaging on its
own and another beautiful new hybrid in the Itoh peony series, 'Keiko',
features exceptionally large, lush, pink flowers. 'Keiko' in Japanese
means 'Adored'. The Itoh series are what is known as "intersectional
hybrids," according to Nikki, and work to combine some characteristics
of herbaceous peonies and tree peonies.
|Purple Flowering Kale|
|Ally at Work|
|Wickman's Becky Nichols|