Most shrubs are too big for my California sized yard. Without snow cover, we need some green all year. The evergreen herbs and perennials serve well in this capacity. My new favorite is corydalis, shown at right above. This year it is bigger and already blooming. Others are hellebores, geranium 'Biokovo', violets, geum, columbine, lambs ears (although they can get slimey from too much fog), stokesia, and yarrow. Foxglove shoots up early enough in the season to be a a nice green tuft all winter. Alyssum is so always present it might as well be perennial. I also have ferns that keep going all year (as above). Add in the lavendar, rosemary and thyme and while the garden may not be gorgeous these two months while it hunkers down for winter, at least it stays interesting.