Rhododendrons are typically higher elevation plants but I find they do well enough in North Georgia in north facing areas with good drainage. I created a small berm in my yard and put a row of small ones that I got via mail order. Three of them bloomed this year - 2 of them are the rosy-purple color so typical of the species Rhododendron catawbiense and one was billed as a white form but which ended up being a very pale pink. Rhododendron in general is a large, open shrub and should be sited accordingly. Be careful when researching cultivars if you are looking for native ones as many of them are hybrids with an Asian parent.
|Loose and open habit of Rhododendron|
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a similar shrub in that it is evergreen, large and becomes fairly open with enough age. The two plants grow together in the mountains, creating massive groups of cool green along streams and mountainsides. But in shady, well mulched areas, they also do very well in suburban gardens. I bermed up (yes, I'm using that as a verb) an area near the house and planted them as foundation shrubs. They get sun until about noon and just love it there. Many, many cultivars are available in a range of sizes and colors.
|Kalmia latifolia pink cultivar|
|Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'|
So if you're looking for some shrubs to extend your spring season, these are a few to consider.