Even the lushest garden can disappoint in the winter after plants lose their blooms and drop their leaves to the ground. To avoid these winter doldrums, experienced gardeners add some evergreen bushes to their landscape. Flowering evergreen shrubs bloom along with other plants in the spring, summer and fall but keep their green foliage all year long. Adding them to your garden will give you something attractive to admire through your window until the weather warms enough to get back to playing in the dirt.
Privacy Screening Pros
Because they keep their leaves, evergreen shrubs make great natural privacy fences and hedges. Reaching heights of 8 to 12 feet, you can grow pyracantha (Pyracantha spp.) as a stand-alone hedge or easily train it onto a chain link fence.
In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, this sun-loving evergreen produces white flower clusters in summer and bright berries in the fall. Its leaves remain all winter to protect your privacy, as do its thorns, which may help convince the neighbor's cat to stay out of your yard.
Growing 10 feet tall, Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira) also makes a great privacy hedge. Found in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, the pittosporum isn't particular about its soil and tolerates salt spray when planted near the coast. This evergreen bush produces heavily scented white flowers in the spring but is prized for its attractive green and white leaves. Plant your Japanese pittosporum in full sun or part shade.
Shade-Loving Evergreen Shrubs
If you're looking to fill a shady spot, look no further than the beautiful pieris. If you plant a pieris in a shady spot and keep its soil constantly moist, the pieris will give you long cascades of white and pink flowers every spring. Perfect for acidic soils, the pieris thrives in USDA zones 5 through 8 and requires very little care.
Another shade lover that thrives in acidic soil is the azalea (Rhododendron spp.). Azaleas maintain rich green foliage in the winter and produce bright flowers early in the spring that are nothing short of stunning. Happy in USDA zones 5 through 9, azaleas work quite well as foundation plantings but work anywhere you want a pop of spring color. Some species that thrive in northern climates are deciduous, so make sure the variety you choose is evergreen.
Other shade lovers include the camellia (Camellia spp., zones 7 to 10), oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia, zones 5 to 9) and Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica, zones 5 to 9). All three of these species require little care, making them easy to enjoy all year.
Dwarf Evergreen Shrubs
Gardeners who want to get a big impact from a small space often plant daphnes (Daphne spp.). While it remains a scant 2 to 3 feet in height, a daphne puts on quite a show each spring and fall by producing copious amounts of sweet flowers. Daphnes grow best in sun or part sun and do well in USDA zones 6 through 9. Daphnes are evergreen but can lose their leaves if the temperature drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another excellent choice is the 'Kaleidoscope' abelia (Abelia x grandiflora "Kaleidoscope"). In USDA zones 6 through 9, this attractive evergreen keeps its leaves all year long, but they change color with the seasons. The variegated leaves are golden and yellow in the spring and turn deep reds and oranges in the fall. Spring blossoms are white and will attract birds and butterflies to your garden.
The dwarf cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus "Nanum') also works well in small spaces. This mounding shrub reaches only about 2 feet in height. Its glossy, tri-lobed leaves stay green all winter but possess a red hue when young. The dwarf cranberry bush likes full sun and blooms off and on all summer in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8.