Camellia ‘Taylor’s Perfection’
The evergreen camellia hybrid, ‘Taylor’s Perfection’, is one of the first shrubs in my garden to bloom. The soft pink blossoms are prolific and beautiful. The shrub grows 3-4 meters high and 2-3 meters wide. It can be planted in full to part sun in acidic soil. Once it is fully established, it does not require summer watering except in the case of drought.
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’
Dawn Viburnum is one of the first shrubs to flower in late winter. It is a hybrid Viburnum that has fragrant pink flowers that bloom on bare branches. You can cut the branches in winter to force the blossoms indoors. The green leaves turn a wonderful orange-scarlet for fall interest and the winter will show off the cinnamon coloured bark. It is a great four season shrub for a mixed hedge.
Dawn Viburnum grows about 3-4 meters tall and 2-3 meters wide so it can easily fit in a small garden. It is fairly forgiving of soil types but you need to plant it in full sun to get a good flower display. Zone 5.
The beloved and common forsythia is well known for announcing the end of winter. The bright golden flowers cover the shrub in late February or early March. The branches make wonderful bouquets for bringing indoors.
Plant in sun where the forsythia can spread. It will grow 3-4 meters tall and just as wide. Prune out old canes every 2-3 years right after flowering. This leaves time for the following year’s buds to develop. Do not shear! The natural shape of a forsythia is an arching vase-shape; pruning into a ball or box shape is not ideal. Visit my blog, How to Propagate Red Flowering Currant, and follow the same steps to propagate forsythia. These shrubs are extremely easy to grow from cuttings.
Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’
Christmas Cheer Rhododendron begins to bloom in late February or early March – not at Christmas time as the name suggests. It is the earliest rhododendron to bloom in my North Vancouver neighbourhood and it always ‘cheers’ me up because it announces spring.
Christmas Cheer has large, pale-pink flowers and dark green foliage. It will grow to about 2 meters high and wide. Plant in moist (but not waterlogged) acid soil in part shade. It can tolerate sun if it is not the afternoon summer sun. This is a low-maintenance shrub that only needs additional water in drought.