15 December 2014

Gold foliage for brighter gardens

Hello, fellow gardeners! Where have I been, you ask? Well, it's been a busy, busy few months, with lots of projects on the go. Now, with only 10 days til Christmas, the main deadlines are under control so I can do some catchup tasks, including updating my neglected blog. It's like that for gardeners, though, so often: during the main gardening months we're outside in our gardens, planting, weeding, harvesting, puttering, designing. Now that frost has come and things have stopped growing and we've gotten our bulbs planted (yes! I did! Before December, even!) we turn to the season of indoor gardening, which includes, of course, planning for next year.

When I was a plant science student at the Agricultural College, to see yellow in foliage often suggested a nutrient deficiency or other problem. It took me a long time to embrace the colour gold, or cream, or yellow, in ornamental plants, but here's what turned the tide for me:
Hostas. Of course it would be hostas, with their splendid foliage that utilizes only a few colours--cream, green, yellow, blue--in such dramatic ways. I love the flowers of hostas, too, but the fresh, perfect foliage is what really does it for me. They are calming plants with their tidy clumps of leaves (especially if they're slug-resistant or you've done battle to keep slugs at bay), and if you have a shady spot, they really brighten it up. It's true that deer adore hostas so if you live in an area where deer are a problem, you may have to opt for hostas only in containers out of reach of hungry bambis. 

Pretty much any plant with gold foliage is best suited for a partially shaded site; from a practical point of view, many need some protection from full sun sites because their foliage will otherwise burn. The golden colour just glows in a shaded garden, as demonstrated with this 'Dickson's Gold' campanula. 
Many gold-foliaged plants include the name 'aurea' in their botanical or cultivar names. This is a golden form of meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea'), which does well in dappled shade in my garden.

Because I went to the Agricultural College where the school colours were blue and gold, I do have a particular fondness for that colour combination (even when the blue is more lavender, but you get the point). This is creeping speedwell Veronica prostata 'Aztec Gold', which has been a good performer for me.
 This is the spiderwort Tradescantia 'Blue and Gold', also sometimes also called 'Sweet Kate'. It was one of the first replacement plants I purchased to put in my new garden because I so love it.
And this is Brunnera 'Diane's Gold'. I had it for several years but didn't take it with me when I left my former home, and haven't sourced it again. I miss it, as it did very well under the azalea where it was planted.
Plants that are bombastic or invasive in one area of the country (and beyond) are not necessarily so in other areas. This is Tansy 'Isla Gold', a golden leafed form of the common wildflower tansy. It is a vigourous grower but easy to control, and it's deer resistant to boot. Some like to dry the flowers to use in arrangements and wreaths. 

Sometimes, new cultivars of a perennial or shrub fail to perform up to a gardener's standards, and disappear quietly from catalogues after a couple of years. I was initially suspicious of 'Eos' geum, but it has done very well for me--I had it in my previous garden and planted it again last year in my new yard, and it grew beautifully. The bright orange flowers contrast fantastically with the gold-green foliage.
I really like weigelas, although I have yet to add any here in my new garden. When I do add one next year, it will be this golden-leafed form, 'Rubidor', which I had in the past and absolutely loved. You'll also find several other cultivars available, including 'Jean's Gold' and 'Ghost', depending on where you live, and where your nurseries source their plants.
To wrap up this post on gold foliage, I leave you with one of my favourite trees: Metasequoia 'Ogon', aka 'Gold Rush', the golden dawn redwood. The dawn redwood is a star in my books in its normal, green foliaged form, but this one leaves me breathless at its beauty. It absolutely glows, and it can take full sun, to boot.

Where do you fall on the spectrum with golden leafed plants? Love or not?

22 September 2014

Falling into autumn...

 Suddenly, it's September 22 and I haven't posted for a month. Why is that, you ask? Well, for sure I'm always busy and never bored, but there was a lot going on in August, some of it personal in support of a friend, and given that my friends have always been there for me when I need them, I pay it forward gladly. And the days are getting shorter, and suddenly, autumn is but hours away. (Top photo is of blue leadwort, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, a terrific groundcover with gorgeous fall colour).

Autumn is not without its beauty, to be sure--some would say that the coming month or so is the most radiant in the natural world, for the explosion of foliage colour, the brilliant last blooms of the season. I agree with all that--and love the cooler night temperatures now that the worst of summer heat and humidity is gone. The shorter days, longer nights, and the knowledge of what is coming in a couple of months? Not so much.

22 August 2014

A Midsummer Miscellany of Colour

 It's now beyond 'Half Past August' and I thought you might need some encouragement because this is the time of year that I hear "there's no colour in my garden" from some folks. Sure there is--and you can add more! I keep adding as I see things I want to change or acquire plants that I have been looking for.
You may remember I talked about plants that I purchase and treat as annuals, including this 'Cherry Brandy' rudbeckia. THIS is why I buy this plant every year if need be--look at that colour. Nothing else quite like it.
Amazingly, all the buddleia I had planted in my garden last year survived the winter, probably thanks to the six foot snowdrift on top of that garden. Thus encouraged, I bought two more this year, including this gorgeous 'Bicolour' which I found last week at Ouest-ville Perennials. As the clusters of flowers open, you can really see a difference in the individual florets--younger ones don't have as much gold-orange. It's striking and beautiful. 
Much more after the jump. 

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