Many homeowners looking for ornamental shrubs or trees look to flowering crabapples or magnolias as way to add color to their landscaping. Note that some of these plants maybe native North America, but many are native Asia. Three plants to consider when looking for something to brighten your yard in early Spring are: the Eastern Redbud, Serviceberry, and Red Chokeberry.
Eastern Redbud in our yard early May 2013
This is the plant we get the most questions about from passersby and from our neighbors. We planted it two years ago, and in the spring it's a brilliant pink color. The vibrant buds last about a month, and other than the flowers which bloom in the summer in our yard, it's the most decorative plant in our yard. It's one of the few sources of color in our yard until the weather turns warmer. Spring in the Upper Midwest can be gray, green, wet, and even cold, but this tree makes things feel a little warmer and more exotic with its blazing pink buds. Ultimately it will stay an ornamental size growing between 15 and 30 feet high; this makes it an excellent choice when considering native ornamentals.
The White Flowers of the Serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis is a good example of the beauty Serviceberry can bring to your yard. Many varieties of serviceberry are native to North America, and a few are native to Europe or Asia. These plants can grow lowly and present like a bush, while others grow more like a shrub or tree. This Allegheny Serviceberry was planted last year in our yard and flowered almost immediately. The flowers grow in showy white bunches, and the subsequent fruit drew the attention of Robins and Cardinals. It did so well last year, that we are looking to purchase two more this year. The white blooms of the Serviceberry added a nice splash of color at the back of our wildflower garden which in May was otherwise entirely green. This plant will grow to a size similar to the Redbud, maxing out at 12 to 25 feet.
These were the Chokeberry flowers before the rabbits ate our beautiful shrubs.
Red Chokeberry is another option which like Serviceberry will flower with white blooms in the early Spring. The flowers will attract pollinators early in Spring to your garden, and later in the summer the plant will produce red berries. The plant's foliage turns a vibrant red in the Fall, so it provides good color for landscaping two times during the year. This plant is more of shrub than the previous two and its maximum height is 12 feet. This is also a plant which you may want to place a guard around. Two years ago, we planted two Red Chokeberries, and after two long winters, the rabbits had successfully chewed both down to stubs.
These are only a few examples of native plants which can be used as ornamentals. If you are looking for early Spring color to welcome in Summer, they are excellent choices. Happy planting.