If you’re making some landscape plans this spring and would like an interesting plant, I recommend the “Lily of the Valley” shrub (Pieris japonica). It’s colorful year-round and is ever-changing its colors. New leaves are burgundy and contrast nicely with the light-green older leaves. Year round it has flower fronds that resemble lily-of-the-valley flowers.
The plant in the photo is near my front door so it’s easily seen. The way it looks now is pretty much the way it looked all winter long – although our winter was very mild. If you click on the above botanical name link, you can read more details on Monrovia’s website.
Other plants that I’m really enjoying – and also in the front yard near the sidewalk – are Spice Viburnums. The flowers have been open a few days now but they’ll soon go away. As the name indicates, the flowers are a very spicy fragrance, similar to a hyacinth. I recommend putting the plants where you will be able to enjoy the fragrance. Around a patio would be perfect, since the shrubs also provide a nice screen.
Eventually small berries appear where the flowers were, but the birds will soon clean them off the branches. I have a bird feeder nearby, so the birds love to use these shrubs as quick cover because they’re so dense. The shrubs in the photo are about 4-ft tall and are several years old – so they’re slow growers. A word of caution … rabbits like to eat the lower leaves and will stand on their hind legs to do so!
There are several varieties of viburnums but the flowers on other types aren’t as fragrant. I have three leather-leaf viburnums in the backyard for high screening. They’re much larger plants and faster growing, but the flowers aren’t very fragrant. The berries are larger and the birds REALLY like them. The rabbits eat the bottom leaves on those plants as well. Wascally Wabbits!