Sometimes we gardeners get so caught up in our love fest over azaleas, roses, peonies and hydrangeas... that we overlook other remarkable and reliable blooming shrubs. Allow me to make the case for weigela, specifically the perky selection RUBIES N' GOLD WEIGELA .

It blooms just as the viburnum and deutzia are fading, and I am forlorn about their exit from the garden stage. For whatever reason, I have not always appreciated this golden-leaved shrub's value to the border and the vase...probably because I did not select the correct aesthetic for its planting location when I first introduced it to the garden five or so years ago...a mistake I intend to remedy as soon as I find just the right spot.  And just what is that?  Well, its moderate mature size in my garden, about 4' x 4' give or take (it is about five years old) makes it fairly easy to fit anywhere. Against a dark backdrop would be lovely...

to accentuate its glowing foliage and ground its arching canes. It doesn't seem to suffer any pest or mildew problems; still, giving it some space would magnify its beauty and enhance its growing form. Mine gets too much afternoon sun during the summer, and though it is relatively drought tolerant, it still suffers leaf scorch and sulks in the intense summer heat. Afternoon shade would be most appreciated.

I have unjustly treated it as something of a stepchild to the more popular spring blooming shrubs, said roses, peonies and hydrangeas. But with my mophead hydrangeas (that bloom on old wood) being far from reliable of late (due to both early and late very hard freezes), and the roses... short lived in the ever blowing Oklahoma  wind...

I am rethinking my apathy towards it and other beautiful weigela, like the PROVEN WINNER SONIC BLOOM 'Pearl' below,

and 'Pink' here, with white flowers that turn to pink in 'Pearl' and dark pink blooms in 'Pink'... with a supposedly reblooming habit. Weigela are old-fashioned and reliable...unfinicky about soil (though preferring good drainage), and happy in full to part sun (but give them full sun for dense, rapturous, hummingbird and sphynx moth-loving blooms...but remember, with some afternoon shade in OK please). So serious am I that I am considering removing my ever so briefly performing peonies and replacing them with these new weigela.  

A must feature in any plant I add to my garden is their value to my vase. Weigela's arching canes of pendulous blooms look wonderful cascading over the side of a vessel, an attribute I greatly appreciated as I cut a new a massive spring arrangement for my round library book table (here). (The larkspur and Graham Thomas roses were lovely, but are about spent now...)

As so many gardeners (like my friend, gardener extraordinaire Dee Nash at RED DIRT RAMBLINGS) try to find replacement plants for bare spots created by victims of the dreaded Rose Rosette Disease, I am thinking that some of these reliable and lovely weigela might be just the ticket. What do you think?

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