Most of the time when we think about plants that provide excellent color in the springtime landscape, we think of spring flowering trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. While these spring flowering plants do indeed help relieve the winter blahs with their long awaited bursts of colorful blossoms, there are two landscape plants I have grown fond of for their wonderful and colorful spring and early summer foliage.
Pagoda Dogwood have long been appreciated for their lovely layered branching that adds a very nice spatial dimension to a
landscape. The Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood gives the same interesting branch architecture, as well as rich golden variegation on the leaves that positively glows in somewhat shadier areas.
The gold and green leaves of a Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood are almost like hovering butterflies due to the way they are arranged along the twigs with plenty of space between them to fully appreciate the rich gold color. Plant Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwoods in fairly shady areas where they get a small amount of direct sun, and are mostly sheltered from the winter sun to avoid winter damage. Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood can handle the cold temperatures of a southern Minnesota winter, but may be vulnerable if winter sun shines directly on them. Locations on the north side of buildings, or in the long winter shadows to the north of trees will provide a good home for a Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood. Avoid wet soggy locations and really sandy soils.
Dwarf Bright Gold Yews are planted in a shady boulder garden near my Golden Shaodows Pagoda Dogwood. As soon as new growth pushes out in the spring the temporarily bright gold foliage of the Dwarf Golden Yew near ground level compliments the gold / green leaves of the Golden Shadows that appear to float in the air. For about 6-8 weeks the golden foliage of both these plants light up the spring and winter landscape at my home before maturing to a more common green. That is a considerably longer time of color than most spring flowering plants
Have fun and experiment!