As you continue to browse through these articles introducing shrub plants, there's a piece of landscaping advice I'd like you to keep in mind. Namely, when making your selections, aim at creating year-round interest in the yard, rather than simply selecting a handful of varieties that you find to be the prettiest. The rationale behind this landscaping advice is simple: if you make your selections based on beauty alone, you may end up with a great-looking yard in, say, the spring, but a rather plain-looking yard at other points of the year. Instead, try to stretch out your enjoyment over the course of the whole year.
While forsythia is one of the earliest bloomers in spring, it is also very common. I don't encounter flowering quince as much, so I make a point of admiring any fine specimens I stumble across. Flowering quince makes my Top 10 list for spring tree and shrub plants, a list headed by dogwood.
Crape myrtles are a popular tree choice for Southerners, with their long blooming period (mid-summer to fall). During the hot months of summer, when the blooms on many specimens have long been exhausted, crape myrtles continue to color the landscape. Northerners can sometimes get away with treating them as shrub plants that die back in winter but come back in spring. In the latter case, their size will be limited (perhaps 4 feet tall), but you still get to enjoy their fantastic floral clusters!
Spring and summer may come to mind at first when considering uses for shrub plants, but don't forget autumn. Oakleaf hydrangea is just one of the fall foliage standouts considered in this article.
Like pussy willow, sumac is known best in the wild. But sumac's potential as a shrub plant for the yard is underrated. Don't believe it? If you live in the Eastern U.S. or Canada, keep your eyes peeled this fall for the first wave of stunning foliage color. Most likely, that color is coming from sumac.
Still more neglected than the use of shrub plants in autumn is their use in winter. Yet Northerners perhaps never have a greater need for their beauty than in winter, when the barrenness of the yard threatens depression. The information in this article pertains to shrub plants that bring cheer to the winter yard, including, among many other varieties, red osier dogwood.
Speaking of winter and shrub plants, American holly is certainly a classic component of the winter yard. My article on American holly discusses not only this evergreen's use as a shrub plant to bring winter joy, but also the reason why we have traditionally attached so much sentimental value to holly.
Winterberry is a very different holly from American holly. Valued mainly for the brilliance of its berry clusters (a picture is provided in the article), winterberry holly loses its leaves in winter. It's just as well: who'd want leaves obscuring these berries?
English boxwood is another evergreen that will bring life to the winter landscape, although, in colder climes, the foliage may turn a bronzy color. It is also a classic plant for formal landscape design.
But I can't conclude a series on shrubs for winter interest -- or, for that matter, an introduction to shrub plants in general -- without including at least one needle-bearing evergreen. Yews are among the most popular shrub plants in this category, due to their versatility.