By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When a shrub is still pretty in December, it’s something more people should be planting. Shrubs with several seasons of interest are a smart and easy way to keep your garden beautiful year ’round, and our native Itea virginica, also called ‘Virginia Sweetspire’ is one of the best.

In late spring Itea is covered with oodles of noodlely, droopy racemes of tiny white flowers that have a lovely, light aroma – the kind of scent you catch in the air and say, ‘ooh, what smells so good?’

Happy in sun or part-shade, Itea’s dense, narrow green leaves make dwarf varieties nice in a border garden, and taller versions perfect as a carefree hedge that provides pretty privacy.

In autumn, Itea leaves turn orange to scarlet; so as we were out decorating for Christmas, our Itea had given our yard a head-start, since it was already decked out in deep red. When the leaves drop in winter, the reddish twigs are decoration enough, until spring comes and the show begins again for our native Itea.

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