Homeowners looking to create a restorative, Japanese style Zen retreat should consider easy care broadleaved evergreens. Here are some of the best: Boxwood is such an interesting plant because their shiny green leaves stay on the plant year-round even in areas that have snow and cold. There are different forms both spreading and upright. Boxwood in the colder climates may need some protection from the drying winter winds (on the west and north exposures) in some areas. Some of these newer selections are outstanding for areas into hardiness zones 5 and some even into zone 4. They are wildly popular especially into the colder climates to introduce some winter interest into the landscape. They make incredible sheared and formal hedges and the upright forms make perfect pyramidal specimens. Boxwood can also be used less formally and look great without shearing, but allowed to grow more naturally.
There are other plants too that fall into the same category as Boxwood that are all included under Broadleaf Evergreen plants that have leaves but hold them all year round and don't fall off in the fall. There are a couple of groundcovers included in this category as well. Pachysandra holds that beautiful glossy green foliage all winter long. Interesting as the snow sculpts a large sweeping bed under the shade of low branched trees like the Flowering Dogwoods and various Redbud selections. Vinca Bowles is another fine textured broadleaf evergreen again used in the shade of low branched ornamentals and shaded understory of the edge of the woods. Striking deep green leaves are beautiful all year round.
Let's not forget about the Genus Ilex, or the broadleaf evergreen Holly plants. Here again, different forms both spreading and upright and some dwarf ones too. Dark shiny green leaves are pointed and the branches are used for winter and holiday decorations. The flowers are not big or showy, but the red fruits are amazingly ornamental and almost look artificial. Some of the deciduous species of Ilex will drop their leaves but can still produce that incredibly showy fruit. The broadleaf evergreen selections can be used as hedges, foundations plants, in the understory of larger trees and large scale shrubs, and most any place you might find boxwoods.
One more group of plants we cannot get by without mentioning is Rhododendron. The Genus Rhododendron includes all the Azaleas as well. The Rhododendrons are all broadleaf evergreens holding their shiny foliage all winter long just like the Boxwood, Pachysandra, Vinca Bowles, and Ilex mentioned above. Rhododendron selections are almost endless and new ones are introduced all the time. The shiny green leaved plants sit there quietly all summer, fall, and winter long but come springtime look out as the Rhododendron flowers are so profuse and the color spectrum so diverse it almost makes you wonder if the flowers are artificial or not. Here again, you can use these plants just like you would Boxwood with the bonus of incredible flower displays, and interesting purplish winter color.
Remember broadleaf evergreens offer year-round interest because they don't lose their leaves, contrast nicely in the winter landscape, and offer cover for songbirds and other animals when so many other plants are naked for the winter. Diversity in the landscape is important when you are selecting trees but shrubs too. Don't forget to check out this incredible category of plants from Nature Hills.