Weigela, Ninebark or Elderberry for this spot?

thisismelissaMay 6, 2012

Hi all, First, I apologize for the book.... brevity is not my strongsuit!

I wonder if I could get your opinion on this.

I'm gradually re-doing the front landscape. Mostly because of the mistakes made by the previous owners not considering the long term ramifications of the choices they made.

Right now, my consideration is the area under the window to the right. That Dwarf Alberta Spruce has been failing for a few years now and it's just the wrong shape for the spot.

Here is the context:

The house faces directly East. The shutters are dark green, but don't quite look the right color in this pic. This section of the house is about 14'. Just around the corner of the house is a Weigela, presumably 'Wine & Roses'. In front of that, just off the corner of the house is a yew. Hate it. But I have to live with it for now. In the yard is a large 'Black Hills' Spruce. Will probably have to come out or get seriously limbed up within 5 years, to maintain a path around the house..

The Buff Limestone... tons and tons of it... is not going to be around long term. I've started the process of removing it... as I re-work each section of the landscape, I'll remove it and replace it with wood mulch.

To the left of the area are 3 Crimson Pygmy Barberry. In front of those barberry, where you see the potted daylilies, is a drift of daylilies around a large ceramic pot. The pot is dark green.

The maple will come out. Hopefully before next spring. But that's a difficult subject to handle with hubby. I'm considering what to replace it with.

So, the area in question gets sun from about dawn till 1:30pm. The overall planting scheme is chartreuse, dark burgundy/purple and a few accents of light blue.

This spot needs dark purple/burgundy foliage, as it will best contrast against the white house. It's about 42" to the bottom of the window and the space is about 48" deep. I am considering the following plants as they are readily available and fit the current planting scheme:


Spilled Wine-it reportedly stays dark purple all season. The only problem I have with it is that it only gets to be 24" tall. I'd really like something 36-42"

Wine & Roses-It doesn't stay a true burgundy. It turns greenish. Gets up to 5' tall. Significantly taller than needed.

Dark Horse-a smaller version of 'Wine & Roses' 3'x3'


Black Beauty-according to the tag, it can be sheared to the ground, so it can presumably be kept in check to remain under the window.


Little Devil-In this pic, what is blocked out of view by the maple, is a tree-form Diablo Ninebark, right at the corner of the sidewalk. Little Devil would echo that. Size is exactly what is needed. However, in my yard, I've had some issue with powdery mildew on ninebark. This is the drawback on this.

Would you please comment on these options?

Thanks so...

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I my area Alberta's seem to always get dead spots on them eventually and why I have steered clear of them. Big Maples can look nice, but I wont risk getting one with those awful helicopter seeds...lol..I dont want 1000's of maples.

I have an Elderberry and in bad winters they will die to the ground. BUT THEY GROW LIKE A WEED! Just like a Butterfly Bush. Mine every year gets over 6 foot tall no matter what. I wouldnt suggest it for your front of your home with how well structured you have everything. I am sure you will be dissapointed in it. I enjoy mine located in the back yard and gets a ton of sun and has the room to do whatever it wants. Might also constantly reach for the sun out front, would be my guess.

I have a smaller variety of dark leaved ninebark that gets about 5 foot tall. Sorry I am not sure what type it is, but I know it is not a diablo which I believe gets bigger than mine. I have never had a mildew issue with it, but could be due to it gets alot of evening sun also. I think it could be a good choice for that spot along with the smaller variety of dark leaved weigela you have mentioned. My final comment would be to consider a laceleaf weeping Japanese Maple for that spot if you are looking for that color scheme. But looks like it could be a little tight for that spot and you might have to make that spot a litte wider from the house. BTW everything looks great!!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:35PM
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I would love a Japanese Maple, but they're only hardy to z5. The one that I do have is overwintered in the garage. So, that won't work for me, as much as I want it to!

Thanks for your kind comments.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 7:56PM
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I know you are stuck on a certian color scheme...but what about a low hedge of coralberry or winterberry?

given the sun shade...i'd go with the elderberry if that is your color palette. more sun equals more color on any of the red leaved shrubs and the wigs and phys are most likely to green out.

i know this ain't the weeping jap maple, but look into the variety emperor I. I know people in the woodbury area that had been growing outside as far back as 01-02.

as an alternative for color palettw...how about some of the larger reddish leaved perennials? eupatorium and the like?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 9:22PM
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Weigela 'Shining Sensation' might be the size you are looking for.


Agree that JM's are better color option for east-facing, but forget Emperor-1. That's a tree not a shrub. Mine is 15' tall x 15'wide. You would need a threadleaf shrubby type. I don't know about Z4.

As far as color quality in your location, If the location is not quite sunny enough, are you able to move it in 2 years to a south-facing location? I would give it two years to settle in before judging.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Ilex reportedly does not do very well here. So, I'm not about to try something that's likely to fail. I'd rather stick with something I am familiar with, if I'm to spend the money on shrubs.
Part of the reason I offered up these suggestions is that they are readily available from local nurseries... ones that have a 2-4 year guarantee on shrubs.

I'd love Eupatorium... I'm a huge fan of 'Chocolate', but I've had mixed results and it's extremely late to come up here. The one plant that I have left is only 2" high at the moment. It won't be significant till July. And I'm not willing to have something in such a prominent spot as this, that is only enjoyable during just 3 months of the year.

'Shining Sensation' does look interesting, however, I've not seen it locally... or at least not readily, so that means bigger bucks to have it shipped in, and likely no guarantees.

Since this area does get sun till about 1:30, I'm certain that that is plenty for something to keep color, if it has the genetics to do so. I don't have much space on the south side of my house, so that's not really an option. It's this spot, or nowhere.

I am leaning toward a weigela, it's just a matter of which one. More fact-finding to do.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:49PM
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I looked up the shining sensation and looks like it would fit your needs for sure. Here is a link from my local nursery for them and other weigelas. They do mail order now on large plants also.


I am used to talking to people who grow hydrangeas in higher zones than me. So didnt dawn on me that you couldnt grow Japanese Maples. Take a look at a Twist n Shout Hydrangea from the Endless Summer collection. They are good down to zone 4 and are very hardy. The stems and veins in the leaves are red/burgundy all through the growing season. Then in Fall the entire leave turns red and hold on for a long time. Let alone they rebloom all season long with red/pink lacecap flowers. They grow very fast and are the first of my hydrangeas to bloom. Then continue to rebloom all growing season. Your spot looks perfect for one...lol...but I think the weigela would look great also!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 2:45PM
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Shining Sensation is reportedly zone 5 hardy and grows to 5'. Won't work for me.

Here are some that the garden center I buy from has on their list right now:

Tango 2-3' tall and wide
Fine Wine 2-4' tall and 3'wide
Dark Horse 3' tall and wide
Spilled Wine 3' tall and wide
Minuet 3'tall 5' wide

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:05PM
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I would go with the Weigela 'Dark Horse' since it is exactly the size you need and has the darkest foliage of all the weigelas.
If you're having issues with podery mildew I would avoid any more Ninebarks.
As far as the maple tree goes in the front, have you considered a flowering crab apple tree to replace it?
Below is a link to some really good information on crab apple trees you may find very useful. I know the article is written for SC Kansas, and you are in Ohio, but the information about the flowering crabs is the the same no matter where you plant them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flowering Crabapples

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 2:50PM
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Thank you PlantingMan.
I'm leaning toward Dark Horse for the same reasons you mentioned.

I'll check out your link for Crabs... incidentally, I'm in Minnesota. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:52PM
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