I gave the spirea a fighting chance. For five summers, I waited for the three shrubs to fill out with dense dark green foliage and prolific displays of flowers as promised by the nursery tag description. But every year, after producing a smattering of pathetic white flowers in June, the foliage is sparse and spindly and the plants look downright sickly for the rest of the season. And even when I've fertilized them.

Every year, I make a mental note to dig up the scraggly shrubs and fill that precious sunny spot with something beautiful. But it never happens.

This weekend, I'm finally hitting the garden centers on a search for a spirea replacement: weigela. Ever since I planted a bed of diminutive "Minuet" weigelas by my front entry many years ago, I've been a big fan of the trumpet-shaped deep pink flowers, nice shape and rich purplish foliage.

For my new trio of shrubs, I'm looking for plants that produce pretty flowers in spring or rebloom several times a summer. And I have to choose a variety that won't grow taller than 4 to 5 feet - so the mature plants won't block the lower level windows.

Decisions, decisions. Should I go with something from the Wine Series, such as 'Wine & Roses', which boasts rosy-pink spring flowers mingled with dark burgundy foliage- and reblooms in the summer? Or try 'Ghost' with its dark reddish-pink flowers against ghostly iridescent buttercream foliage? I'll bring my list of favorite weigelas to the garden centers and hope they will have plenty of stock to look over.

Are you replacing under-performing shrubs? What are some of your favorite flowering varieties?

Photos: Spring Meadow Nursery