Trees and Shrubs for All Year Interest

Trees and shrubs often serve a distinct purpose in landscapes, other than to provide color. They are planted to provide shade, screen a view or noise, or to soften the hardscapes of the home.

With a little planning, we can have both beauty and function from trees and shrubs. Add a few trees and shrubs that have color in different seasons and your landscape will always be interesting.

The added benefit of growing trees and shrubs is that they are low maintenance. Once the plants are established in the landscape, they will require very little water and only an occasional application of a slow release fertilizer. A good layer of an organic mulch around the plants will help conserve moisture, prevent weeds, and keep root temperatures regulated during our temperature extremes. You may have to do a little pruning every year to remove any diseased, damaged, or severely crossing branches.

Here is a list of plants to give you garden interest throughout all seasons:

Winter color

  • Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata) is an underutilized ornamental cherry for the coastal south. Clusters of dark pink flowers cover the plant which grows about 20 feet.
Taiwan cherry
  • Camellia japonica is widely used in landscapes, but still an excellent choice for winter color. Careful selection of types will provide a garden with color from November through April.
  • Red maple (Acer rubrum) will provide color in both the late winter and fall. Flowers are brilliant red in late winter and leaves begin turning red in late October.
  • Other choices include Oakleaf hydrangea, Florida anise, Red buckeye, and Japanese magnolia


  • Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) can be in shrub or tree form and range in height from 10 – 20 feet. Forms white clusters of showy fringe-like flowers in late winter and early spring before the leaves emerge.
Fringe Tree 2
Fringe tree
  • Chinese fringe (Lorepetalum chinesis ‘Rubrum’) is a very popular shrub. Pink blooms are heaviest in the spring. The plants can get up to 12 feet in height so plant it were it will not obstruct a view.
  • Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) forms clusters of white flowers. Plants offer purplish foliage in the fall.
  • Other choices include Banana shrub, native azaleas, Indian hawthorn, and Deutizia,


  • Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) is a large shrub with fragrant leaves and spikes of purple flowers. Tolerates drought and develops interesting shape.
Vitex flowers
Chaste tree
  • Loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) is an evergreen tree that grows to 25-35 ft in height. Large white flowers with yellow stamens resemble camellia blooms.
  • Abelia spp has white flowers that appear over the entire plant. It is attractive to butterflies .
  • Other choices include Crape myrtle, Althea, Confederate rose, and Oleander


  • Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) will become a large tree over time. In the fall the feathery leaves will turn orange-brown. Good tree for both wet and dry areas.
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) a native that forms clusters of purple berries that line the stem. Leaves turn yellow and provide fall interest as well.
  • Cassia bicapsularis can reach 8-12 ft in height and will have bright yellow flowers that form in October and persist until a freeze.




Posted: January 14, 2014

Category: Horticulture
Tags: Arbor Day, Garden Design, Ornamental Shrubs, Panhandle Gardening, Shrubs, Trees

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