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Stacey Hirvela
Photographs Courtesy of Proven Winners

Flowering shrubs are staple items in most gardens, but few landscapes can rely solely on shrub blossoms to carry them through the entire year. That’s why it’s important to round out your garden with unique evergreens that offer colorful fruit, foliage, and stems to brighten up the space through the dreary winter months. Here are a few you may not yet have considered.

Classic Sophistication
If your style runs toward the refined and formal, you probably already love evergreens with tight, neat forms like boxwood. And if you love boxwood, you’ll be especially excited to learn about Sprinter™, the third boxwood to earn the Proven Winners® name. It grows at about twice the rate as other varieties! Sprinter™ boxwood reaches about 4’ (1.2 m) at maturity, making it perfect for low hedges or specimen plantings. Like most boxwood, it is hardy to USDA zone 5.

Many people mistake Japanese holly for boxwood, since they appear identical to the untrained eye. However, Japanese holly has darker foliage and grows into crisper, more dramatic shapes, as you’ll see with our new Patti-O Japanese holly. Patti-O naturally grows into a broad cone for a formal effect that begs to be covered in twinkling lights. We called it Patti-O because it is exactly the type of plant you’d want in a container on your patio (get it?) or flanking your front door for a dramatic statement. Patti-O Japanese holly grows to 4’ (1.2 m) tall and needs little pruning to keep its tight shape. It is hardy to USDA zone 6.

Go for the Gold    
Green is great – it’s the backbone of the garden, after all. But gold foliage evergreens (or, shall we say, evergolds) add a little extra sparkle to the landscape and look especially magical in winter’s dim light. If you’ve got the space for a big, bold hedge, you can’t do better than Polar Gold arborvitae, a 12-15’ (3.6-4.5 m) pyramid of sunshine. If you need something a bit smaller, we’ve got you covered with ‘Filip’s Magic Moment,’ a fun little pyramid of yellow fan-like foliage. It slowly attains heights of 6-8’ and is a much more stylish alternative to the ubiquitous Alberta spruce. Its sister plant is the adorable Anna’s Magic Ball arborvitae. It’s a darling little thing, forming a 10-15” (25-38 cm) golden ball at maturity. Both of these dwarf conifers will be right at home in winter window boxes or containers. All three of these arborvitaes are hardy to USDA zone 3.
Not every “evergold” is a conifer: wintercreeper euonymus is a glossy-leafed plant that can be grown as a groundcover, climber, or small shrub. Its colorful foliage makes it a popular choice for gardeners in zone 5 and warmer. While most varieties are variegated, our new Goldy euonymus is pure gold. As with many yellow plants, the color is most pronounced on new growth, but you can count on Goldy to grace the landscape with cheery chartreuse-lime leaves through the coldest months.  
Even if you live in a warm climate and those coldest months aren’t all that cold, your short, chilly days still qualify as winter. Gardeners in zones 8 and higher can brighten their gardens – and their kitchens - with our new Sicilian Sunshine bay laurel. The fragrant foliage of this beautiful evergreen shrub is the same bay leaf in your spice rack. Sicilian Sunshine offers lemon-yellow new growth on bright red stems for an eye-popping effect that will make cold climate gardeners green with envy. Fortunately for snow-bound gardeners, they can grow Sicilian Sunshine indoors on a sunny windowsill and try to forget about the snow swirling outside. 

Pretty in Pink
If you live in one of those not-too-hot/not-too-cold areas, we have some new hebes that are going to blow your mind. If you don’t live in the mild climates that these unique little shrubs prefer, well, you’re certainly not alone. But feast your eyes on these hebes anyway, because they are simply stunning: ‘Frozen Flame,’  ‘Magic Summer’ (oh, the irony!), and ‘Wild Romance.’ All of these small (about 24”/.6 m) bushy evergreens have glossy, variegated foliage year-round, but winter’s chill turns them bright pink, purple, and magenta. They are actually showier in winter than they are the rest of the year!

Berry and Bright
Winterberry holly is a native shrub that is as adaptable as it is beautiful, but at heights topping 6’, not everyone has the space to use it in their landscape. Our new dwarf winterberry hollies, Berry Poppins™  and Mr. Poppins™, change all that. Berry Poppins™ is laden with bright red fruits from fall through winter but unlike its predecessors, it reaches an urban landscape-friendly 3-4’ (.9-1.2 m) tall. Mr. Poppins™ is the perfect consort, providing abundant pollen for Berry Poppins™ and staying the same manageable size. Though Mr. Poppins™ is a male plant and does not set fruit, this variety serves as the pollinator for Berry Poppins™ and many other winterberry hollies. A ratio of about 1 male to every 5 female plants should provide sufficient fruit.

For more information on Proven Winners Color Choice® Flowering Shrubs and lots of ideas for your landscape, take a look at the idea books on

About Stacey Hirvela Stacey is a member of the Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs marketing team. A graduate of the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, she has worked as a Manhattan rooftop gardener and as the horticulturist for Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park. In 2005, she became a garden editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine where she created, wrote, and edited garden content and co-hosted a call-in radio program.

Posted November 14, 2014

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