Updated: Oct 3, 2022
From the vibrant blossoms of springtime, to the luxurious growth of summer, to the majesty of autumn leaves and even the emerald evergreens of winter—every season has beautiful colors to offer, but few plants are colorful in every season. Instead, it's our task to grow a selection of plants that show color throughout the year. Trees and shrubs are the master artists of every landscape. Here are the top performers for each time of the year!
Emeralds, Reds, and Blues of Winters
In the summer, they fade into the background behind brighter flowers and foliage. But when all the leaves fall, spruce suddenly come into the spotlight. The towering branches of emerald or blue needles refresh our winter senses. Spruce stand confident all year, growing to grand heights or in small dwarf varieties, and make excellent year-round habitat for birds. They can also form a privacy border that gives coverage in every season.
The evergreen branches of juniper reach through snow, lending color to our winter scenes. Like spruce, they may be overshadowed by the dazzling blooms of spring and summer, but in winter, junipers become true friends. You'll find some reaching skyward in columnar shapes and others spreading horizontally in their shaggy, wild way.
The red berries and rich green leaves often decorate homes during the holiday season but remain a treasure in the landscape all winter. Some have classic prickly leaves, while others have smooth foliage, but any of these evergreen varieties are sure to brighten your winter landscape while other trees are leafless.
It's not hard to think of flowering trees that bloom in the springtime. So many species burst forth with radiant flowers. The Flowering Plum is only one of many, yet it is one of the most impressive, displaying so many pink blossoms that the branches are almost hidden beneath the riot of color. As they fade, rich purple or green leaves cover the branches of this mid-sized tree.
The lilac is a jewel of spring-flowering shrubs. Unlike the plum, it sprouts lush green leaves first and waits until May to reveal its glorious blooms. Many lilacs show classic, lavender-colored flowers, while others display shades of indigo or white. Japanese Lilacs are a popular variety that reveal pearl-white blossoms; just after the purple flowers of its cousins start to fade.
The Full Portrait of Summer
Oaks are often the last trees to leaf out but offer grand canopies once they do. You can spend hours just admiring the light shining through them. The thick trunks are perfect for leaning against to read a book, and they offer great shade for your house and yard. Besides that, their acorns are an essential source of food for wildlife in Pennsylvania.
Those seeking blossoms throughout the summer can look to the many varieties of this shrub. After other spring flowers subside, they offer a feast of blossoms for us and the pollinators. Clusters of white and pink flowers are most common. Some varieties rise barely a foot off the ground; others grow to waist or shoulder height. The golden leaves of some spirea are beautiful in themselves.
The Grandeur of Fall
People wait all year to witness the scarlet leaves of maples in the fall. These towering trees know how to go out with a bang. They have been the subject of countless paintings and will continue to be as long as they live. Having a maple in your yard is a sure way to enjoy the colors of autumn.
These modest shrubs are not as celebrated as they deserve to be. They display clusters of pink or white flowers in the spring and take the spotlight again in the fall with crimson leaves. After the foliage drifts to the ground, they reveal exquisite red bark to color your winter landscape. While they may not be the most impressive in any single season, dogwoods have something to offer every time of year.
The serviceberry displays vibrant orange and gold leaves in the autumn, after showing ivory blossoms in the spring and producing delicious berries in the summer. As a native species, it doesn't need much care to give a fruitful yield. Admiring this shrub's fall colors is all the more satisfying while feasting on a piece of serviceberry pie.