Now is the time of year to select the flowering trees and shrubs to prepare your yard for spring next year. Garden centers and nearby neighborhoods are good places to look for ideas. Some of the plants you will often encounter are redbuds (Cercis canadensis), lilacs (Syringa spp.) or crabapples (Malus spp.). However, there are plenty of options that are less common but very ornamental, which can be easily incorporated into the landscape. Here are a few to choose from.
Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is a large multi-stemmed shrub which can be pruned to a single stemmed small tree. The spring brings creamy white flowers. The foliage turns red in the fall and the unique structure of the plant provides excellent winter interest. This plant does well in part shade and can add dimension to the mid-canopy areas of your yard.
Whitebud (Cercis canadensis alba) is a cultivar of the more common redbud. It has creamy white flowers instead of the reddish violet blooms of redbud. The growth habit and foliage are the same as the straight species but the creamy white flower add contrast if planted near redbuds. Unfortunately this plant is less hardy and should be planted in Zone 5.
Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.) is an extremely hardy plant that produces edible fruit along with excellent orange-red fall color. The spring bloom is early, typically April, and rapidly develops mild blueberry-like fruit that is ready to harvest in June. Some cultivars like ‘Autumn Brilliance’ are grown more for their ornamental features while A. alnifolia cultivars are grown more for fruit production.
Pagoda dogwood. Photo by Cynthia Haynes.