Overgrown shrub needs a new home

Q: I have a large established Weigela that is growing over the footpath to my front door. I have trimmed it back but if I trim it anymore I will be left with only branches and no leaves, which will not be a pretty sight. My question is how much can I cut back without killing it so new growth will fill in come spring?

A: It might be a good idea to wield a shovel rather than clippers, and transplant your Weigela to a spot where it has room to grow into its natural shape. Weigelas grow 6 to 10 feet high and are floppy and difficult to keep under control near a path. The good news is that it's the right time of year to transplant shrubs.

Since Weigelas are so large and lax, they look best planted toward the back of a border rather than in such a prominent spot as along the front garden walk. In a less visible location, you can leave them unpruned, or cut them back without worrying about the bare branches showing.

Good replacements for the Weigela would be smaller, tidier shrubs that won't need much or any pruning, such as lavender, Spirea or Osmanthus. If you love the look of Weigela in that spot, choose a dwarf hybrid such as 'Minuet' or 'Variegata Nana'.

Q: I'm looking for special wreaths and natural Christmas décor this year for a holiday party we're giving. Do you have any ideas where I could find attractive and unusual wreaths?

A: If you want lasting wreaths made from dried or artificial (though you'd never know it) botanicals, Lavender Heart in the Madison Valley offers sophisticated designs. I especially like owner Holly Henderson's oval wreaths of faux hydrangeas in colors from gold to ruby red, to be used as centerpieces or hung on walls, doors or windows. Lavender Heart, 2812 E. Madison St. in Seattle, 206-568-4441.

For fresh greens, join the party at Fremont Gardens "Holiday Wreath and Greens Preview," from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. You can place a custom-wreath order or, if you get inspired, book time on their wreath machine and make your own (assistance and materials provided). Fremont Gardens, 4001 Leary Way N.W., Seattle, 206-781-8283.

Valerie Easton also writes about Plant Life in Sunday's Pacific Northwest Magazine. Write to her at P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 or e-mail planttalk@seattletimes.com with your questions. Sorry, no personal replies.