Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) Facts: Zones 4 to 9; 4 to 6 feet tall; suckering; dry to damp soil; sun to moderate shade This old-time favorite shrub has grown in popularity due to its versatility. It will grow from almost full sun to full shade in dry to wet soil. The maroon flowers appear from spring to summer and can be highly fragrant, although fragrance varies widely. The leaves have a coarse texture and the plant is deer-resistant.
Piedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) Facts: Zones 6 to 9; 6 to 15 feet tall and wide; moist but well-drained soil; fragrant; partial shade The Piedmont azalea looks nothing like the evergreen azaleas from Asia. Its growth habit is more upright and tree-like. Large trusses of pink and white, honeysuckle-like flowers appear in early spring. The aroma is also similar to honeysuckle and can be enjoyed from some distance. They also appreciate a bit of morning sun.
Kerria (Kerria japonica) Facts: Zones 4 to 9; 6 to 10 feet tall and wide; arching; average well-drained soil; partial to medium shade The lovely yellow flowers on this plant remind me of forsythia, and it works well as a substitute for forsythia in shade. The foliage has an attractive, “corrugated” appearance that provides good texture after the blooms have faded.