Bushes that do not drop their leaves are known as evergreens. Unlike deciduous plants that shed their leaves each autumn, evergreens lose their leaves gradually, replacing them throughout the year. By definition, broadleaf evergreens bear flattened foliage that remains green year-round. Available in a wide-ranging assortment of shapes and sizes, their dense, bushy habit and four-season foliage makes them the ideal plant for softening the look of any landscape.
Foundation plants are placed around the base of a house to hide the groundwork and give the home a lived-in look. Broadleaf evergreens that look nice in front of the house tend to be low-growing shrubs or dwarf versions of larger plants. Traditional foundation designs often include dwarf Japanese yew, American holly and common boxwood. Informal designs rely less heavily on rigid, clipped evergreens and feature more varied, colorful plants such as the Indian hawthorn, Carolina rhododendron and Winter daphne.
Hedges mark property borders and give the garden a measure of privacy. Broadleaf evergreens work well as hedge plants and can be used to fashion effective, year-round barriers. Create a formal, clipped hedge by placing straight rows of privet, boxleaf honeysuckle or boxwood around the perimeter of the property. These shrubs respond well to routine pruning and give the garden a well-structured, tidy appearance. Informal hedges can be made from clusters of evergreen azaleas, bayberries, wax myrtles or viburnum; the natural shapes of these shrubs create borders with a relaxed, casual look.
Some broadleaf evergreens are valued more for their fragrant flowers and colorful foliage than for their year-round greenery. The dramatic, 24-inch, sword-shaped foliage of the Adam's needle adds an eye-catching focal point to the landscape, whereas the plate-sized, creamy white flowers of the southern magnolia add texture and contrast. The Oregon holly grape gives the winter garden a colorful boost with its large clusters of dusky-blue berries, while the flowers of the gardenia bush fill the yard with sweet perfume all summer long.
Shade-loving broadleaf evergreens lighten dark corners with their glossy, green leaves and their cheerful spring flowers. The heavenly bamboo produces 12-inch clusters of bright, white blossoms that seem to glow in deep shadows, while the tiny blooms of the cherry laurel take on the appearance of shining stars in the night sky. Plant the red-tip photinia in particularly difficult spots as it will produce colorful foliage and bright berries, even when set in deep shade.
Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.