The Days of Wine & Roses

An heirloom shrub rose in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A fragrant heirloom shrub rose (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I don’t know when you were last surprised with a bouquet of roses and a bottle of wine, as it sure has been a while for me. But don’t blame my husband; I always request that he give me plants in lieu of cut flowers. Although I adore fresh blooms, I simply can’t justify spending a significant amount of cash on something that needs constant tending, only to shrivel up within days, versus spending the same amount of money (or even less!) on something that can be enjoyed for decades . . . without constantly trimming stems and changing water. Well, you do the math.

Wine & Roses stands out in the spring border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Wine & Roses ignites the spring border (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

When it comes to getting a lot of bang for your buck, you can’t miss by purchasing hardy shrubs that, when planted in the appropriate spot, will provide intensely hued foliage and flowers to brighten your garden border for years to come. One such shrub is the durable Asian native, Wiegela florida (zone 5-8), a plant that has survived decades of wet and dry summer fluctuations as well as intense winters, without losing one limb.

The intoxicating blossoms of Wine & Roses weigela in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The intoxicating blossoms of Wine & Roses weigela (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Folks that visit my garden can’t believe how established, yet mannerly my Wine & Roses® wiegela (Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’) is, with its delightful, compact form (about 4 feet tall and wide) and striking merlot foliage accented with lime green veins. WR serves as the perfect anchor at the end of my border, commanding attention from every angle. And did I mention the profuse display of bright fuchsia, trumpet shaped blossoms that adorn every branch the beginning of June (often lasting for weeks)? Yes, these are delectable delights for all nearby butterflies, bees . . . and especially hummingbirds!

Rich foliage of Wine & Roses anchors garden bed in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Rich foliage of Wine & Roses anchors garden bed (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

But here’s the thing with weigelas, they’re a rangy bunch that tend to get gangly within a few years. Alas, there is a simple solution to keeping them in check: pruning. It’s easy to keep weigelas from reverting to their previous wanderlust tendencies with consistent pruning for the first several years of growth, followed by periodic pinches to maintain shape. Indeed, I believe my wiegela is healthier and more robust because of my diligence over the years. Now a snip here and there–an annual trim so to speak–is all that is required to keep Wine & Roses in check.

Weigelas masses of bright pink flowers in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Weigelas masses of bright pink flowers attract hummingbirds (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

What I find most amazing is Wine & Roses® ability to retain its burgundy luster in the harsh, blaring sun that is my garden. Actually, this is a wiegela that adores the most intense rays, mocking the sun to “bring it on.” In other words, full sun is a must for this specific weigela, as it enhances the dark pigment responsible for the rich purple foliage. Wiegela generally prefer a fertile, well-drained soil in full sun with adequate water, but some will tolerate drier soils and actually prefer partial shade. Although my favorite for flair and contrast is Wine & Roses (which also happens to be the only wiegela to receive the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Award), weigela has over 180 cultivars, some that reach 20 feet tall!  Following are a few of the more manageable (7 feet and under) choices:

Weigela florida 'Variegata' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Weigela florida ‘Variegata’ (photo by: Peacock Horticultural Nursery)

Weigela florida ‘Variegata’ offers green leaves edged in creamy yellow that turn white as the leaves age, grows 5 feet tall and wide. Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’ produces scarlet flowers on arching stems of rich green in late spring, possibly reblooming in late summer. It grows 5 feet tall and wide. Weigela florida ‘Ghost’ boasts chartreuse foliage that pales to a sulfur yellow in summer, complemented by deep red flowers, and grows 4-5 feet tall and wide. Weigela florida ‘Briant Rubidor’ bears green and gold variegated foliage, wine colored blooms on a shrub that grows to 7 feet tall.

Weigela My Monet in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Weigela My Monet (photo: Spring Meadow Nursery)

And for smaller companions try: My Monet® weigela, Weigela florida ‘Verweig’, a compact combination of green and white variegated foliage tinged with pink that sparkles in the *shade (*some shade is a requirement, this one did not survive one season in my full sun garden). Pink blooms appear in summer on this mini 2 foot shrub. Weigela florida ‘Eyecatcher’ offers lemony, variegated foliage on a compact shrub that grows to 3 feet tall and wide, producing ruby red flowers in late spring.


  1. These are Beautiful! Are they a type of rose? They would definitely look good @ my house!

    • Weigela is a shrub-not a rose-but it would do wonderfully in your sunny yard. The dark foliage of ‘Wine & Roses’ is stunning in a landscape, and somewhat critter resistant, too~

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