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Flowering Bushes for Spring Landscaping

Top 10 List of Trees and Shrubs

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Picture of the saucer magnolia tree.

Picture of the saucer magnolia tree.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

Having considered dogwood on Page 1, let's continue on to the other entries in my Top 10 list. I have compiled my list for spring flowering bushes and trees based on the following criteria:

  • Showiness of bloom.
  • Foliage interest, including multi-season color.
  • Interesting branching patterns.
  • Cold hardiness: all of the selections in my Top 10 list for flowering trees and bushes can be grown as far north as zone 5, at least.
  • Berry output and beauty.
  • Ease of propagation or maintenance, including disease-resistance.

Specimens that possess more than one of these characteristics will rank higher than those that meet only a single criterion.

Note: I have divided my selections equally between early blooming and later blooming flowering trees and bushes. By "early blooming" I refer to the flowering trees and bushes that truly herald the spring -- those that flower even in most northern gardens by early april. By "later blooming" I refer instead to those flowering trees and bushes who put on their flowery displays only after spring has fully sprung -- late April, or perhaps early May. Other shrubs (not included in this list) bloom even later: e.g., mountain laurel shrubs and lilac shrubs.

I have divided my selections equally between these groups, lest my choices be skewed in favor of a particular time period within the spring season. In fact, a mixed planting (early bloomers and later bloomers) of flowering trees and bushes is preferable, so that you may extend your display longer. Unless a plant is labeled as an early bloomer, the reader may assume that it is a later bloomer.

Based on these criteria, here's my Top 10 list, without further ado.

Top 10 Flowering Trees and Bushes for Spring Landscaping

  1. 'Cherokee Chief' and Japanese Dogwood Trees
  2. 'Donald Wyman' Crabapple
  3. Flowering Quince (whether the "Storm" cultivars or 'Cameo')
  4. Saucer Magnolia Trees
  5. 'Sunrise' Forsythias
  6. Eastern Redbud
  7. 'Tor' Spirea
  8. Variegated Weigela
  9. Pussy Willows
  10. 'Redspire' Callery Pear

Malus 'Donald Wyman' or the 'Donald Wyman' crabapple is disease-resistant. These flowering trees grow to be 15'-25' tall, with a spread of 20'-25'. The berries persist throughout the winter, and wild birds eat them in February and March. The pink buds open to become single white blooms, which are fragrant.

'Cameo' flowering quince bushes (Chaenomeles speciosa 'Cameo') are compact, spreading flowering bushes, well-suited for a low border or hedge. Their double peach spring blooms earn these flowering bushes automatic inclusion in the Top 10 list. The edible reddish yellow berry, ripening in fall, is used for preserves and jellies. Height 2'-4', spread 3'-5'.

On Page 3 we'll continue the countdown of the Top 10 flowering trees and bushes....

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