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Create a Colorful Year-Round Landscape

Mar 31, 2022 ● By Melinda Myers
Three seperate pics of a blue flower, a yellow flower and a pink flower

Photo credits Pasquesi Home and Gardens

To fill a landscape with color, texture and interest year-round, select plants that provide multiple seasons of beauty or use a combination of shrubs with different seasons of bloom and leaf color. Kick off the growing season with color and look for ways to continue color throughout the growing season and into fall and winter.

Start the season with vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), which blooms in late winter or early spring. This large shrub grows well in full sun or light shade and moist soil with yellow, orange or red flowers and yellow to orange fall color.

Include the adaptable chokeberry (Aronia) in shrub plantings, mixed borders or rain gardens and enjoy the four seasons of beauty this shrub provides. The season will start with white flowers that eventually give way to red or black fruit that persists through much of winter. The glossy green leaves turn a brilliant red in fall, setting the landscape ablaze with color.

Boost the landscape’s fragrance with Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii). The red buds open to fragrant white, snowball flowers. The birds will enjoy the black fruits that form, and we can all enjoy the colorful fall foliage display.

Add winter interest with the horizontal branching of doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum). This growth habit, combined with white spring flowers, summer foliage and fall color, make it a year-round asset.

Continue the parade of bloom with dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilal gardenia). The fragrant white flowers are a favorite of early season pollinators and hummingbirds. The blue-green leaves turn a combination of yellow, orange and purple in the fall.

Don’t overlook a traditional favorite, the native red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea). Its spring flowers support pollinators, and the birds love the fruit. Enjoy this plant year-round with its flowers, fruit, fall color and brilliant red stems that brighten the winter garden.

Use the larger native pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) for moist, shady locations. The showy white flowers are followed by bluish-black fruit in summer that attract songbirds. Once the reddish-purple fall leaves drop, the horizontal branching takes center stage.

Brighten sunny, dry locations with ninebark (Physocarpus). Colorful cultivars of this adaptable native plant provide season-long color. Spring flowers, colorful summer and fall foliage, and attractive peeling bark make this a great choice for most landscapes.

Don’t forget about early blooming azaleas, forsythias and fragrant lilacs. Their colorful flowers are a welcome sight in the spring landscape. Include them in plantings where their colorful flowers can be enjoyed, then extend the flower season with summer and fall blooming hydrangeas. Whether looking for a sun or shade lover, we are sure to find one or more hydrangeas that fit our garden design.

Add a few evergreens to provide greenery year-round. Hardy green velvet boxwood ((Buxus x ‘Green Velvet’) is a favorite for full sun and partly shaded locations. Just provide a bit of shelter from drying winter wind and sun. Plant junipers in hot, dry locations; there are a variety of sizes and shapes. Last, but not least, is arborvitae. It’s a great choice for full sun to light shade and moist soil locations. Plan now to plant this spring and enjoy year-round landscape beauty.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great CoursesHow to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio program. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. For more information, visit


LEARN MORE…about creating a colorful landscape on May 10, 2022 at 6:30 p.m.

by joining garden expert and columnist Melinda Myers for a free webinar, followed by Q&A. Register at or visit for more information.