Get Four-Season Beauty with These Trees And Shrubs
Most shrubs and trees have a specific season of beauty, and then they fade into the background for much of the year. But, there are a few trees and shrubs that take beauty to a whole new level, with unique features for every season. Here are a few options for North Carolina.
Paperbark Maple is an excellent deciduous choice for four-season beauty. They're on the smaller side, usually maturing between 20-30 feet tall and feature beautiful exfoliating bark. The older bark, which is a dark purple-brown, peels back to reveal the new cinnamon red-brown bark underneath. This effect is particularly eye-catching during the winter. In the spring, it puts out beautiful dark green leaves, which retain their color quite long into the fall. These are some of the last trees to start turning, and it's worth the wait. Their leaves turn shades of vibrant red and orange, and they hang on right into the winter before they finally drop.
Serviceberries are a large group of trees and shrubs that are beautiful all year round. Also native to North America, they're deciduous, easy to care for, and can last up to 40 years once established. There are many different varieties of serviceberries available, but they all feature beautiful spring flowers, small but pretty apple-like fruits, beautiful leaf colors in the fall, and unique bark colors through the winter. Their fruits are edible and make delicious jams or jellies. The bark of most serviceberries is a unique silvery-gray and looks elegant and refined in winter.
Redbud is another easy-care deciduous tree that offers beautiful four-season interest. They feature beautiful pink blossoms in the spring that can last as long as 3 weeks. The heart-shaped leaves emerge as dark burgundy after flowering, transitioning to forest green. The leaves turn buttery yellow in the fall and leave behind interesting brown pods when they drop. These pods hang on through much of winter and add visual interest when most other trees are stark and empty.
Chinese Fringetree is an excellent but underutilized tree for the south. It tolerates the heat and humidity of our summers and it’s considered a small grower (up to 15-20 feet tall), which is perfect for today’s smaller landscapes. The springtime blooms are wisps of white fringe shaped petals. Summer foliage is a nice, deep green with hardly any pest or disease problems. In autumn, foliage turns yellow, before falling off to reveal the papery, peeling bark.
Japanese Maples are a great family of trees and shrubs for year-round interest. There are many dwarf varieties available with a wide variety of growing habits, sizes, and colors. They all feature the classic 5 lobed maple leaf, but the presentation of the leaves varies widely. Some have the typical broad maple leaf look, while others have lobes that are deeply cut and quite drapey. Then there are the types that have a feathery look with deep cuts, narrow lobes, and serrations. Japanese maples range widely in color, from bright red-almost-pink leaves to bold crimson red. There are also varieties that are shades of vibrant green, bright yellow, or nearly black. Japanese maples often feature uniquely colored bark, and when they drop their leaves they have a beautiful natural shape.
Dogwood shrubs feature pretty spring flowers, long oval leaves that turn stunning colors in the fall, and many types have colorful branches that add contrast to the winter landscape.
Plum Yew is a unique evergreen shrub. It features long, dark green fern-like needle-shaped leaves. It has gray bark that starts to peel in thin strips as it matures. There is a wide variety of sizes and shapes, from a tall narrow upright (known as ‘Fastigiata’), to a round shaped one (‘Duke Gardens’ and ‘Drupacea’), to a flatter ground hugging shape (‘Fritz Huber’ and ‘Prostrata’).
Virginia Sweetspire is native to the Southeast US preferring moist soil and tolerating drier soils. Spring blooms are highly fragrant. Fall foliage is a deep merlot color which, unlike most deciduous shrubs, persists until mid winter.
Fall is a great time to add new trees and shrubs to your landscaping. It gives them some time to focus on growing strong roots before they have to worry about putting out fruit or leaves. Stop by the garden center today and choose some beautiful four-season trees and shrubs for your yard.