Flowering shrubs give you the most bang for your buck. You get the benefit of their foliage all season long, so they're a substantial presence in your yard while other flowers — annuals and perennials — come and go at their feet. But these shrubs also contribute pretty flowers. Some shrubs flower in spring, summer, and even the fall, but spring-flowering shrubs are the most common.
Spring-flowering shrubs come in many hues, and matches are fun to make when you're viewing the yard as a whole. Bloom times may or may not match up, though. (If only bridal-veil spirea, frothing with lacy white flowers, bloomed at the same time as the white magnolia!) Of course, in different parts of the country, spring may be extended so that you don't get much overlap, whereas in colder areas, such as in the Midwest, the same spring bloom is compressed into a much shorter time, so you see much more overlap.
From time to time, you need to prune flowering shrubs, mainly to shape them. The right timing is important, or you may accidentally cut off the buds before they have a chance to flower! Consult "Pruning for shape and rejuvenation," later in the chapter, for details.
Some flowering shrubs are deciduous and some aren't. Deciduous azaleas are, of course, deciduous, whereas evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons are not.
Favorite spring-bloomers include lilac, spirea, forsythia, daphne, ceanothus (California lilac), rhododendron, azalea, heather, winter jasmine, mock orange, viburnum, California flannel bush, and Chinese empress tree. If you want to look into obtaining bushes that sometimes bloom in summer or early fall, look into roses (see Chapter 9), broom, hydrangea, clethra, potentilla, Rose-of-Sharon, butterfly bush, Russian sage, abutilon (flowering maple), and golden raintree.
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