Spireas are a great bang-for-your-buck in the garden because they offer multiple colors throughout the season. Loads of new varieties recently introduced showcase colorful new leaves in shades of orange, rosy-red, or dusky plum. Summer foliage is blue-green or chartreuse-yellow (or green, if that’s too loud for your garden). Fall is when Spirea really shines with hues like those in spring – oranges, reds and purples – but more vibrant and on all the leaves. Their white or pink flowers remind one of fine bouquet fillers, like Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath, and as such can make a nice addition to a mixed garden to play off of with bolder flowers and deeper colors. Ease of care and reliability have kept Spirea in gardens for decades. Try mingling them with perennials or other short shrubs. If you like a clipped, formal look, their small leaves lend themselves well to meticulous shaping. Otherwise, larger growers with a more relaxed look work well as cottage garden fillers or accents for the side of a house or property line.
Another of the favorite “old-timey” shrubs has undergone a rebirth of late – Weigela. Resilient and valuable assets for multi-season interest, choices now abound in foliage colors and shrub sizes, with many repeat-blooming better than they already did. Leaves can be green, gold, plum-purple, or multi-hued with cream, pink, or orange highlights. Flowers have that trumpet shape that hummingbirds enjoy in white, pink, violet-pink, or red and open over much of the summer. In fall, varieties with yellow or green leaves turn orange or a russet orange-red. Large varieties grow into a nice informal mound, while dwarf types remain a tidy tuffet that easily tucks in among other shrubs or perennials. The occasional trim keeps them fresh; their needs are few and care is easy.