Witchhazel (Hamamelis sp.) unfurls its spidery flowers in either fall or deep winter (and sometimes even spring), depending on the species and cultivar. Some of the H. x intermedia) hybrids begin blooming in late January, the Japanese and Chinese witchhazels a month or so later. Fall foliage is colorful in all witchhazels. The spiderlike, fragrant yellow flowers of the common witchhazel (H. virginiana ) often get outdone by its yellow leaves. You can also find cultivars of H. virginiana that drop their leaves before the flowers form.
Winterberry, a deciduous holly (Ilex vertillata) puts on an extraordinary show in winter, becoming the focus of the garden. How long the berries persist depends on temperature and how eagerly they're consumed by birds typically they hold into early winter in the northern part of its range and till spring in the South. USDA Zones 3-9DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Evergreen hollies come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and color of berries.
Among American hollies, find a lustrous-leaved cultivar such as 'Amy' or 'Jersey Knight' or the heavy-fruiting 'Old Heavy Berry' or 'Croonenburg.' Only the female has berries; you'll need a male nearby.
You don't have to settle for red berries and green leaves: 'Goldie' and 'Canary' have yellow fruit, and 'Stewart's Silver Crown' has variegated foliage.
Some trees and shrubs are colorful architectural elements in the winter when their bark is on prominent display. Shown here, Japanese stewartiaDK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
The brilliant bark of paperbark cherry (Prunus serrula) glows in the winter sun.
Japanese skimmia blooms white in spring, but its maroon-red buds are ornamental in winter, and female skimmias also have very showy red fruits that persist till spring. Male skimmias have larger and more fragrant flowers.
Most Oregon grapehollies (Mahonia aquifolium) bloom in early spring, but 'Soft Caress' begins opening in February. Leatherleaf mahonia (M. bealei) may open as early as mid January.
The contorted branches of some Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) take on their best look in winter, especially in the snow.
Some shrub willows (shown here) offer options for lighting up your winter landscape: Salix 'Flame' has orange-red bark and matures to 15 to 20 feet tall; coral-bark willow (Salix alba 'Britzensis') stems are red when young, so the plant has to be cut back hard. Red-osier dogwoods offer red stems in winter too.