Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


November 11, 2013

PLATEAU GARDENING: More ideas for purple landscape pizzazz

CROSSVILLE — It was disappointing to find none of the Wine and Roses weigela shrubs I fondly remembered from the April 2005 installation of the Tree and Shrub Garden when I came to capture photographs of purple foliage plants at Discovery Gardens/UT Gardens-Crossville on the grounds of the University of Tennessee Plateau Research and Education Center this summer. I did find a Weigela florida "Elvera" Midnight Wine, a dwarf weigela that was not in the original plot plan for that Master Gardener (MG) theme garden. It must have been added later.

This compact specimen has the same arching-branch form as larger weigela shrubs. Midnight Wine grows slowly and tops out between foot and two feet tall with an equal spread. The dark burgundy leaves on this cultivar turn a deep purple in fall as do those of W. florida "Alexandra" Wine and Roses. The foliage is a tip off that this cultivar was hybridized by Herman Geers, the same European plantsman who developed Wine and Roses.

A design note for readers considering this selection for their home landscape: in my opinion, that solitary Midnight Wine bush looks too small standing in a planted area where the standard-sized shrubs around it have been eight years in place and are nearing maturity. A mass grouping of three to five, placement in a container that subtly makes a statement like a footed stone urn or small-space surroundings as in a rock garden would be options that better feature this lovely miniature.

If you are seeking colorful foliage at UT Gardens-Crossville wander just a stone’s throw from the Tree and Shrub bed to Mary’s Garden (installed in 2012), which boasts lots of shrubs with purple leaves including three W. florida "Bokrashine" Shining Sensation. These shrubs are slightly larger (five to six feet tall by three to four feet wide when mature) than Wine and Roses (at maturity four to five feet in height with a spread of three to four feet) but have the same shiny, purplish-burgundy hued foliage. Wine and Roses (hardiness range zones 5a to 9b) is a bit less cold hardy but should tolerate heat better than either Midnight Wine or Shining Sensation (hardiness range zones 4a to 8b). All three plants have deep-pink tubular flowers which attract hummingbirds. Their blooms first appear in late-spring or in early-summer (depending on the cultivar) and all can be expected to flower again later in the season. Like most weigela they are easy to grow given a location with average, well-drained soil and full sun. (Sunlight affects both flowering and depth of foliage color.)

When I asked readers to contact me, one of the first emails was from my neighbor. He grows a sibling of Wine and Roses that is slightly smaller (height two to four feet with a spread of three to four feet) with a more rounded form- W. florida "Bramwell" Fine Wine. His son Tim Wood is the plant breeder who developed the Fine Wine cultivar and named it after his Dad, whose middle name is Bramwell. Any plant-lover can relate to how exciting and what an honor that was.

Master Gardener Beth has a probable explanation for the absence of the Wine and Roses planted in 2005 — the crazy weather of 2007. Summer-like heat started in late winter (February 2007) and lasted into early April. Outdoor plants were in an advanced stage of development caused by the warmth, which made them especially vulnerable to harm. Then came a hard freeze that lasted for days. An extended drought followed, which was the kiss of death for many freeze-damaged trees and shrubs. Unlike the Crossville MG classes of 2005 and 2006, the 2007 MG graduates didn’t plant a new theme garden at Discovery Gardens. Instead they worked damage control, removing plants that died and irrigating to prevent the loss of others.

• • • 

Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region. Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae, 

Text Only
  • 8-8 counseling center-play with dolls.jpg Christian Counseling Center celebrating 12 years

    Help the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County (C5) celebrate 12 years of community service. Dine at Ruby Tuesday of Crossville Aug. 8, 9 or 10. Print the flyer from the center’s website,, and give it to the server.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A Time 4 Paws collecting shoes to help Soles4Souls in fight against global poverty

    Attention anyone with a closet! Those shoes no longer wanted are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.

    July 24, 2014

  • Parkinson’s therapies help patients live big and loud

    Parkinson’s disease has famously affected the lives of celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. But whether a person with Parkinson’s is world famous or a next-door neighbor, new therapies are offering hope for a better quality of life.

    July 22, 2014

  • 8-5 CATS in Palace-Carole Jarboe Cullen - waterfall.jpg Local art event planned at CATS

    Plans are being made for an event sponsored by the CATS Gallery at the Palace Theatre, 72 South Main St., Crossville, Tuesday, Aug. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be refreshments, music and an opportunity to view a performance painting by artist Chuck Jensen. A live auction of donated art pieces will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the opportunity to "Be a Cool Cat — Buy Local Art." There is free admission, but it is advisable to get a free ticket at the CATS Gallery in the middle section of the Crossville Mall, at the Palace Theatre or from any participating member of CATS. During the event, original art items including paintings, photographs, and jewelry will be offered for auction, such as this expressive waterfall painting by Carole Cullen.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses (Published July 23, 2014)

    July 22, 2014

  • fair park.jpg Heritage demonstrators welcome

    Most of Americans today never stop to think how different our lives would have been several hundred years ago. How many times a day do we wash our hands, and do we ever realize when we take those hot showers and lather up, the long all-day process our ancestors had to go through just to make a bar of soap? Not to mention packing water to the house and heating it up over a wood fire just to have a bath and wash clothes. Times are changing faster than ever.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • pleasant hill ramblings.jpg Mathes restores a bit of Pleasant Hill's history

    Miss Alice Adshead, RN, created a “wilderness trail” through the woods just down the hill from Uplands Sanatorium, the first hospital in Cumberland County once located on Main St. in Pleasant Hill.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • plateau gardening-hydrangeas5117.jpg Prune flowering shrubs: now or wait until February?

    Experts say, “Don’t prune woody-stemmed plants (shrubs, trees and some types of vines) after mid-August.” Do pay close attention to that advice. The purpose of this late-season pruning prohibition is to keep plants healthy.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • IMG_1850.jpg Burgess Falls offers a big payoff for a short hike

    At Burgess Falls, you can be out of your car and taking in the breathtaking view of the Falling Water River as it falls 136 feet in the third and final drop of the river with just a short walk through the woods.
    But even though the state park is close to civilization, this natural wonder retains its wild and scenic reputation.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 19 Links

  • 8-2 colonial dames.jpg Colonial Dames honors members with luncheon

    The John McKnitt Chapter Colonial Dames 17th Century held its May meeting at the home of Joyce Ernst. Those present were Sherry Sneed, Jessie Watts, Dot Brodhag, Kandy B. Smith, Lynn Constan, Donna Hamilton, Margaret Markum, Lana Davis, Sara Tripiciano, Jane Tavernier, Joyce Ernst, Kathy Wilson, Charlotte Reynolds, and Cheryl Chrobot. President Lana Davis welcomed the ladies and followed with the opening ritual.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo