Choosing flowers, shrubs and trees in your landscape- Part 1

Don't just focus on when plants and trees are blooming. Consider what they'll look like in other parts of the year to get the most value out of your landscape. What to look for in flowers, shrubs and trees Now that you have assessed your home's landscape, you can take steps to improve it and along with it your home's value and your state of mind as well. All of the flowers, shrubs and trees you select should reduce any aspects of your landscape that detract from your home's value and beauty. These should be your first priority. Afterward, you can do other things. Primary Goal: Year Round Landscape Value Try to choose plants and trees that change in appearance as the year progresses since they may have a dual or triple landscape or "beauty value" over a long and varied season. By choosing such plants, you'll getting more for the time, energy, and money you've expended on them. In areas where there are 4 distinct seasons, it's particularly important to think of fall and winter landscape value when selecting plants. Keep these factors in mind: 1) Flowers - Most nursery catalogs will emphasize the flowering habit of trees and shrubs. But how long do the flowers last and how often in a year do they flower? One thing is certain, the tree or shrub won't be flowering all year round? In Washington DC, springtime is absolutely glorious, while summers are very hot. So ideally, you want to chose plants that will flower in the summer and fall months as well. Some species of Azalea plants bloom during the spring and fall months and thus have a higher landscape value. 2) Leaf color - Are the leaves attractive? Finely cut or compound? Are they an unusual color (golden, grey or silver blue, purple, or variegated)? Do the plants have the added bonus of attractive autumn leaf coloration? Or are they evergreen and retained through the winter? The leaf color, shape and texture will add diversity to your landscape or garden. Don't be afraid to mix things up. 3) Bark color or texture - What will this plant look like in winter when its devoid of leaves and flowers? Birches have attractive white bark with a distinct texture. Amur cherries have a similar type of peeling bark that is bronze in color. Siberian dogwoods have a brilliant scarlet bark that shows up well against snow. Other dogwoods have green or golden bark. 4) Fruit - Is the fruit retained through fall and winter? Many crab apples and persimmon trees carry their fruit through the winter, providing food for people and birds while adding color to the winter landscape. Sparkle berry, a holly, looses all of its leaves during the winter, but has large clusters of bright red fruit. It grows 12 feet tall and wide.