Winter may be the most challenging season, but also the season that tests one's talents as a garden designer!

When doing a planting plan many garden designers, landscape designers, landscape architects design for the winter landscape first, then orchestrate their plant palette for the remaining three seasons afterwords.

Here are five favorite shrubs for zone 7 New York City gardens.  Do you agree? Which shrubs would you add to this list?

Cornus stolonifera, C. sericea/Red Osier Dogwood - The red stems protruding from a new blanket of snow is what a garden designer most cherishes about these plants. While I love Cornus alba and Cornus sanguine, give the opportunity, I'll always plant native.

Ilex aquifolium/English Holly - There are many beautiful evergreen hollies. At the moment I'm partial to them as the morning of this writing I installed several stunning 'Nellie Stevens' (a hybrid).

Ilex verticillata/Common Winterberry - During three seasons of the year it's an understudy, then along comes winter and the plant is a headliner!

Hamamelis mollis/Chinese Witch Hazel -  The fragrance is lovely. The cheery yellow flowers shine in the grey of winter, for me, they're a harbinger of spring to come. 

Pieris japonica/Lily of the Valley Shrub - Sometimes I get tired of seeing it everywhere, but in wintertime ... it just works!  It has beautiful structure, it's evergreen with glossy leaves, easily pruned for shape and offers dainty flowers. As a garden designer in New York City, I encounter many understory situations which is this plant's culture. When designing suburban landscapes you can gain some comfort by knowing that this is one of the plants least likely to be grazed by deer. While I love Daphne's, they're finicky plants.

Which shrubs would you add to this list? I would love to know!!