Smallish non-hedge evergreens?
I am an inexperienced gardener trying to create a front yard planting that will be interesting all year. It is a small city yard that faces south, mostly sun, and a completely blank slate. My ideal evergreen would be a bold focal point that calls out "I'm alive!" and cheers me up whenever I see it. Clipped hedges remind me of tombstones--I know it's weird, but they won't do much to lift my spirits.
Some things I have considered:
Using a hardy Yucca (like colorguard) in a large container as a focal point. I'm concerned, though, that it will not like the container or that it will just collapse under the first snow. I don't want to put it in the ground because I'm afraid I'll change my mind, and I've heard they're nearly impossible to get rid of.
Using boxwood but letting it grow in a natural way instead of shearing it. My concern with this is that it will grow too slow and I'll go crazy with the waiting! I'm also wondering how holly would look if it wasn't clipped much, but I think most hollies are too large for my space.
Using a (or a few) small conifers that have interesting shapes or colors. I've seen them in other people's gardens but haven't been able to identify them. If you have one, I'd love to know what it is.
If you happen to have pictures handy that would be great, otherwise a good description would be most helpful since I don't know a lot of plant names.