Of course I love spring-flowering bulbs - who doesn't? But for a really big show, nothing says late March/early April like cherry trees, right?
On a smaller scale, this time of the year I appreciate the early-blooming Spireas more than any other shrub in my shrub-filled garden. Like this 'Ogon' that will lose its flowers but then show off its gorgeous chartreuse leaves all season. It's super-fast growing, too.
And lastly, a shrub I wish I had but don't - a flowering quince. It's a round-topped, deciduous shrub growing 6-10 feet tall and wide. The older plants can become a tangle of branches, but they persist for years without benefit of pruning. Flowering quince produces stout thorns and, at one time, it was common to see hedges made from it. Flowering quinces have traditionally been popular in the countryside - possibly because they're so tough, drought-tolerant and long-lived. Or possibly because farmers enjoy making jelly from its hard, ugly, pear-like fruit.