Mahonia is a small fully hardy perennial evergreen shrub native to China with yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. This plant has everything going for it: an elegant, architectural look, evergreen toughness, some drought tolerance, adaptability to substantial sun or shade, and – best of all – large sprays of the brightest, sunniest yellow flowers imaginable, appearing from late November through January.
The genus contains about 70 species of evergreen shrubs, which are rather similar to Berberis – in fact, some botanists would like to unite the genera. Most have deliciously scented flowers, but their prime use is to fill inhospitable sites. It grows well in shade and semi-shade, and prefers medium levels of water.
Garrya elliptica makes a remarkably indestructible and attractive evergreen shrub on free-draining soil. It is at its best from midwinter to early spring when it is covered by a mass of dangling grey-green catkins, 15-20 cm (6-8 in) long. If you want even longer catkins, choose ‘James Roof’.
Garrya elliptica can also be grown as a dense bushy hedge, but should only be pruned and kept in shape once the display of catkins has finished. It grows ell in seaside gardens, but does not make a windbreak because it needs a sheltered position. When exposed to a flaying wind, it suffers badly.
Calliandra is a popular plant in the U.S. but rarely grown in Great Britain. The leaves are made up of a large number of segments and the flowers are made up entirely of stamens. It blooms in winter and the ‘powder-puffs’ last for 6-8 weeks.
Calliandra inaequilatera has bright red flowers and dark green foliage. A better choice is the hardier Calliandra tweedii – the flowers are smaller and the leaves are feathery. Calliandra surinamensis has perfumed pink powder-puff and tiny, fine leaves. It’s hardy, compact rounded bush. Calliandra haematocephala has vivid pink, big powder-puff flowers from October to May. Native to Bolivia, this plant becomes a small tree with many-segmented, eight-inch leaves. Calliandra californica gets 6 ft. x 6 ft. in an open, vase-shaped shrub and red puffball flowers. Its dark green leaves are like tight miniature ferns, overshadowed by red spikey flowers.
Once the summer flowers are over, conifers come into their own, both as a contrast to the colors of deciduous trees and shrubs, and later as welcome green features through the winter. There is a conifer for every size garden; they vary from neat, mounded dwarf forms, slow-growing, slim-line vertical trees which eventually reach 3m (10ft) high, to others with beautiful grey-blue foliage to monsters which grow 30m (100ft) high.
They can be used to provide a wide range of effects including windbreaks on the garden boundary, ornamentals for their shape and colored foliage, and architectural features adding extra interest from fall to spring. They can be very effective in formal Italian or Eastern-style gardens.
A big display of fall berries provides a striking seasonal note and also adds a range of colors, from bright red to yellow and white. In time most, except the toxic ones, will get eaten by birds. Meantime, as the fall mists descend and then lift, they will reveal beautiful clumps of tiny colored balls high up in the trees and down on the ground, attracting extra wildlife.
The best berrying trees include ash (Sorbus), which provide a range of colored fruit and several specimens that will not grow too high. The slow-growing Sorbus x kewensis only grows 2.5m (8ft) high and 2m (6ft) wide, and its late spring flowers are replaced by bright red berries.
The horse chestnut tree, also known as Aesculus hippocastanum, is a member of the Buckeye family, which includes species that grow in the United States. It is a member of the Aesculus family. The horse chestnut is not a native tree in America, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, growing in southern sections of Europe and Asia. However, the horse chestnut now grows in many parts of the United States, after its introduction as an ornamental species.
The horse chestnut’s flowers appear in the spring and they are white in color. The upright cluster of flowers can be from 5 to 12 inches in length. The fruit of the horse chestnut is round to oblong in shape and the exterior is covered with spines. The husk is thick and leathery, which protects the seeds within the fruit. There are generally one to three brown seeds within the husk. (Note: the nuts of the horse chestnut are not edible.)