New Year, New Vintage(s)

It's no secret that I enjoy a glass of wine in the garden. So imagine my excitement when I received an email from Proven Winners a few days ago, where the word "wine" appeared SEVEN times in just a few short paragraphs! Naturally they knew they would have my attention, so as I continued to read I was thrilled to discover there were some new introductions to their line of weigela : one of my favorite deer-resistant and drought tolerant flowering shrubs. And yes, their names revolve around wine. Very clever. If you haven't grown weigela before I highly recommend selecting varieties that have colorful leaves as well as flowers. Varieties are available that have golden, burgundy or variegated foliage so you really get lots of color from a single shrub. My "go to" weigela that I use in many of my landscaping designs is Spilled Wine. This beauty has the classic tubular pink flowers on deep burgundy foliage and grows 2-3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. When I need something smaller I use Midnight Wine which is closer to just 1 foot tall. Well now I have some new options to consider too.

Midnight Wine Shine

Midnight Wine Shine – one to look out for. Photo courtesy Proven Winners

Midnight Wine Shine is a good upgrade from the older Midnight Wine as it is a stronger bloomer yet still compact at 1-1.5 feet tall and 2-2.5 feet wide. This improved selection has even darker, glossier leaves and is less prone to winter tip dieback.  Hardy in zones 4-8. Plant in full sun for best flowering.

Very Fine Wine

Very Fine Wine – a new vintage that shows great promise. Photo courtesy Proven Winners

Very Fine Wine is a new introduction and an improvement over Fine Wine, which in itself was an improvement over the old Wine and Roses which caught my eye many years ago and started my love affair with this genus. Very Fine Wine offers better winter hardiness (because we all know that just because THIS year has been mild doesn't mean next year will be, right?), improved foliage color as well as being more floriferous. Sounds great! The mature size on this one is said to be 2-2.5 feet tall and wide; so more of an even mound than Spilled Wine which is wider than tall. Hardy in zones 4-8. Plant in full sun for best flowering.

Bonus attributes

  • Deer Resistant
  • Drought tolerant once established
  • Low maintenance
  • Hummingbirds love the tubular flowers
  • No fussy pruning needed
  • Tolerates clay soil as well as alkaline soil

Design Ideas for Dark Foliage Weigela

Contrast the dark foliage with something bright such as golden leaves.  

Flanked by Magic Carpet spirea and a variegated sedum, the dark weigela foliage is nicely highlighted. Design by Le jardinet.

Use the dark foliage to punctuate shades of green.

The darker leaves of a weigela can be used to draw the eye through a landscape of lighter colors. Design by Janet Burch.

Here's another view of that same lovely garden in Michigan.

A variegated weigela in the foreground and a large darker leaved weigela in the background shows you just how valuable these shrubs are in design.

Where to buy?

Look for these new introductions in better nurseries and garden centers this year or order online using these links: Midnight Wine Shine, Very Fine Wine.

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