Mahonias make bold, often dramatically architectural, foliage plants. Rows of rich green, holly-like leaflets are elegantly laid out to make distinctive leaves. Most varieties tend to be upright in growth, spreading more as they mature, so they make fine back-of-the-border focal points.
In late summer, autumn and winter the frost-hardy flowers appear. The most stylish are those producing long strings of dainty yellow flowers. Different varieties open from late summer through the winter until as late as March and feature an attractive, though not intense, fragrance that’s said to resemble lily-of-the-valley. They’re popular with winter bumblebees.