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(MCT)—Here are three new spring-flowering shrubs available at garden centers nationwide, thanks to the plant introduction program branded as Proven Winners.

Sugar Baby forsythia:
Often, forsythia is a huge, overwhelming shrub that has not deserved a specimen spot in the front yard.

That’s all changed.

Now, Proven Winnners offers a smaller forsythia called Sugar Baby in its Show Off series. The miniature, upright forsythia looks nice in small spaces, even large pots. Or, use it as a small flowering border, maybe with spring-flowering bulbs worked among the border.

The plant, which blooms now through early April, depending on your climate, grows 18 to 30 inches tall and wide, and needs sun to part shade. It tolerates most soils and is drought tolerant once established. Prune forsythia after it finishes blooming, especially the large sizes. The miniature one should never need pruning, which is a nice change for your gardening calendar.

Double Take quince:
Along with forsythia, quince is one of spring’s earliest blooming plants. In the past, quince has been regarded as a no-no plant because of its many thorns.

Now, Proven Winners offers the thornless DoubleTake series of quince.

Bred by Dr. Tom Ranney in North Carolina, Double Take quince has huge double flowers and nary a thorn in sight.

Double Take comes in Orange Storm, Scarlet Storm and Pink Storm. These quinces are long bloomers, beginning in early spring and continuing until the weather gets hot, according to the breeder. They like sun to part-sun locations, and are cold hardy in zones 5-8.

Spilled Wine weigela:
Spectacular-looking foliage can be as eye-catching as fantastic flowers. The new purple-leaved weigela called Spilled Wine gives you both. Its dark red, wavy leaves, which are absent in winter, provide a dramatic backdrop for hot pink-magenta flowers that are similar to those of another weigela called Wine & Roses. Spilled Wine, however, is a smaller plant that’s wider than taller, making it a nice plant for adding color in mass plantings or tucked into an existing border or even a perennial garden. Best of all, it’s deer resistant, and it’s cold hardy in zones 4-8.

This weigela likes well-drained soils but adapts to most soil types. Pruning is best done after flowering but its smaller size means little pruning is needed, meaning you have more time to sit back and enjoy your yard’s beauty.

Kathy is gardening columnist for the Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

©2012 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services