Bringing evergreens into your landscape is a great way to prevent your backyard from looking bleak and bare in winter. If the term "evergreen" makes you think of Christmas trees, you're in for a delightful surprise. Evergreen plants - those that do not lose their foliage in winter - come in all shapes and sizes, including some that light up your garden with summer flowers or even produce fruit. Here are a few of our favorite evergreen garden plants. 1. Lavender - With thin fingers of silvery-green leaves and deep purple, fragrant flowers, lavender is a garden favorite. Some use it in cooking. 2. Bay Laurel - Here's an evergreen that multitasks. The bay laurel makes an imposing shrub in a garden, and its shiny leaves can be pruned into topiary shapes. But it's also used as a culinary herb. 3. Heath - For evergreen groundcover, heath/heather is an excellent selection. Heath foliage spreads across and hugs the ground, producing pink blossoms in springtime. 4. Camellia - This is another evergreen shrub that is famous for its lovely flowers. The blossoms of camellias, in pink, white or red, appear in later winter to spring and contrast dramatically with the shiny dark foliage. 5. Pyracantha - It's also known as firethorn, after the numerous sharp thorns that cover its stems. Pyracantha is a favorite shrub for defensive hedges, but it also produces bright berries appreciated by wild birds and small mammals. 6. Mountain Laurel - With shiny dark evergreen leaves and an explosion of summer flowers, mountain laurel has a lot to offer in a garden. It grows best in acidic soil. 7. Rosemary - This shrub shouldn't be restricted to a small pot in an herb garden. In warmer climates, rosemary bushes can grow impressively large, while the needles remain fragrant. In summer, look for lavender flowers. 8. Yew - It grows slow and stays low, making yew a wonderful, easy-care ground cover. Its habit is naturally spreading, and the drooping shoots produce bright berries in autumn. 9. Holly - Don't restrict holly to holiday decorating. This shiny-leafed evergreen deserves a spot in the garden to show off its vivid autumn berries. Hollies can be kept shrub-size or allowed to grow into towering trees. 10. Yucca - With its spiky long leaves and high-stemmed blossoms in summer, yucca proves that evergreen plants come in unexpected shapes and sizes.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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