Photo: Eric Hunt (wikipedia)
Pieris floribunda is an evergreen shrub that is native to the Southeastern United States. It is sometimes called by the common name of lily of the valley bush and is hardy to zone 4. This species bears upright clusters of small bell-shaped flowers that form in the fall and are attractive all winter. It is smaller than the Pieris species that are imported from Asia and likes cool temperatures at night.
Pieris is related to rhododendron and mountain laurel. The imported Pieris species are more frequently seen in catalogs and garden centers, and they have brilliant red spring growth that can be damaged by frosts. From a distance the new red growth can be mistaken for flowers.
The Japanese Pieris japonica is hardier than the Chinese and Himalayan species. For example, ‘White water’ is a floriferous plant and blooms early in the spring with pale green new growth and russet fruit. ’Katsura’ has pink flowers in late spring and wine red new growth, yet has excellent heat tolerance and grows up to five feet. This is a deer resistant shrub that does well in shade as a specimen or as a group in foundation plantings.
Pieris has year-round interest since it is evergreen but also flowers for a long period. (I find it likes a Northern exposure in my garden and shelter from the summer heat to do well.)