(Viburnum rhytidophylloides) It is difficult to single out one viburnum species because so many are outstanding ornamental plants. This hybrid combines white spring flower clusters and long-lasting pink and/or red fruit that ripens to black in late summer through fall with heavy, rugose, semievergreen foliage. It is a medium to large shrub, reaching about 8 feet tall and broad, and it grows in full sun or partial shade in neutral or acidic soil that is moist or dry. This viburnum and some of its close relatives are wonderful all-season plants for your landscape. Zones 5 to 8.
(Syringa vulgaris) An old favorite, lilac needs no introduction to most North American gardeners. Many new cultivars and hybrids are available, as well as additional species. Some of the more recent introductions broaden the color selection, extend the blooming season, and provide increased resistance to leaf mildew. Flower colors range from white to pink to lavender to purple. Common lilacs prefer an alkaline or neutral, well-drained soil. They do best in regions that have hard freezes and thaws because chilling temperatures produce radiant blooms later. Zones 3 to 7.
(Aesculus parviflora) Many buckeye species, both trees and shrubs, have great horticultural merit. The combination of bottlebrush's tall white flowers in late spring (much later than most other buckeyes), its mounded growth habit, and its lush foliage throughout summer make it special. In fall, the foliage often turns a pleasant clear yellow that brightens the shady areas where it prefers to grow. However, like many plants, it becomes denser and flowers more profusely in brighter locations. Bottlebrush reaches a height of 10 feet and, if given room to sprawl, slowly spreads to fill a planting area or cover part of a wooded slope. It is not very fussy about soil and will grow well in many different habitats. Zones 5 to 9.
(Hamamelis vernalis) As the snow begins to melt -- often even before -- vernal witch hazel is one of the first woody plants to awaken. Clinging to upright limbs, its yellow or reddish spidery flowers are a sure sign that winter is winding down. This species is more compact and denser than its large, fall-blooming cousin, common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), usually staying less than 12 feet tall. It has thick leaves that remain attractive all summer and in fall turn a nice yellow that repeats the flower color. Flowers vary in size and color, so choose your plant at the nursery when it is in bloom. Vernal witch hazel grows in a broad range of soil conditions in either sun or shade. Zones 4 to 8.