If drab winter months have you longing for spring, you might want to plant a few of these very early blooming deciduous shrubs. Each flowers on bare branches, which are great for cutting in bud stage and bringing inside to bloom. In mild-winter areas, this plant may already be flowering.
Flowering quince (Chaenomeles) bears mostly single pink to red blooms on bare branches but there are also varieties with white or orangish flowers. An upright shrub, the flowering quince is up to 10 feet high and has thorny branches. There are also dwarf and thornless varieties. Plant in full sun. USDA zones 5 to 9.
Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) produces small pale yellow blooms marked with shades of brown to maroon. Although not spectacularly showy, they are intensely fragrant. Can reach 10 to 15 feet high and half as wide. Plant where you can enjoy the fragrance in full sun or partial shade. USDA zones 7 to 9.
Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) is a colorful shrub with small yellow flowers followed by bright red berries and yellow (sometimes red) fall color. It can get up to 15 feet high but may also be trained into a small tree. Plant in full sun or partial shade. USDA zones 5 to 8.
Forsythia (Forsythia) glows with bright yellow blooms on upright branches. Plants can reach up to 10 feet high but there are many dwarf hybrids. Plant in full sun. Most varieties can be grown in USDA zones 6 to 9, but many hardy hybrids can be grown much further north.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis_ x _intermedia) bears unusual, frilly yellow to orange-red blooms, which are usually nicely fragrant. Plants grow 12 to 15 feet high and have attractive yellow, orange or red fall foliage. Plant in full sun or partial shade. USDA zones 5 to 9.