Barely two weeks ago, the main garden color around here was white. But as the weather got milder and then suddenly turned scorching, new foliage started emerging, and color theme has shifted to some serious chartreuse. Every day, I find new leaves to admire, so I’ve been having trouble deciding when to stop taking pictures and put some of these beauties together for a gallery of spring golds. Finally, here are some highlights of the foliage action here at Hayefield.
First, the short-lived yellows. I think the winner here is yellow-leaved yarrow (Achillea millefolium‘Aureum’). Gosh, what an ugly plant. It’s really yellow for less than 24 hours, then a sickly yellow for about a week, then a kind-of-unhealthy-looking light green for the rest of the growing. I don’t recommend it, unless you’re really a collector.
Seersucker sedge (Carex plantaginea) isn’t seriously chartreuse, but its new leaves have that same fresh, springy yellow-green of beech leaves, especially when backlit. The effect usually lasts a week or two – maybe three – then gradually turns more green.
The next one, which spends about the same amount of time in the same color range, is a sport of – I think – ‘Stella de Oro’ daylily (Hemerocallis). I picked it up about seven years ago, with one distinctly chartreuse fan among several normal green ones in a pot. I kept dividing out and discarding the green ones, and the clump has stayed evenly chartreuse for the past three springs. It does darken in the summer, but the effect is nice while it lasts.
‘Sunningdale Variegated’ masterwort (Astrantia major) is a beauty for foliage itself, but it has another neat trait: all of the self-sown seedlings I’ve found come up this pale yellow color and stay that way for a few weeks before going green.
‘Illuminator’ yellow meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum) hasn’t been nearly as vigorous as the species for me, but it seems to have finally decided to stay around. The very newest leaves are a pretty yellow, and though they quickly turn blue-green, there are usually a half-dozen of so colorful ones at any given time during the spring.
Golden columbines, such as this seedling from the ‘Touchwood Supreme Mix’, are usually at their best in spring, but cutting them back to the crown just after bloom brings out a new batch of colorful leaves to extend the show well into summer.
Several more that usually stay yellow through late spring, at least, include golden honeylocust (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’)…
…golden-leaved currant (Ribes alpinum ‘Aureum’)…
…‘Summer Sunshine’ germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)…
…golden wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Aureum’)…
…and golden mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’).
Golden hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) usually stays golden until midsummer.
Its older leaves eventually turn medium to dark green, but the new growth keeps emerging bright yellow to provide a nice contrast through the rest of the summer.
‘Golden Jubilee’ anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) emerges bright gold, often flushed with red if the weather is cool. It’s usually yellow green after it’s been in bloom for a few weeks, but the new tips can still be a good yellow.
‘Latifolia Maculata’ boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) flushes a solid bright yellow in April, turns a yellow-mottled green, flushes yellow again in early summer, and then settles to yellow-flecked to solid green until the following spring.
The next plant started out as variegated soapwort (Saponaria officinalis ‘Variegata’) about 5 years ago. It languished for a few years, and it needed constant attention to keep the green parts out. This spring, half of the shoots are solid yellow and the rest are solid green – and many of those green ones are popping up several feet away from the original clump. I consider this plant to be a short-lived yellow because it’s going to live only until I have time to dig it out before it spreads even further. Still, it’s pretty for now.
Last in this group, one of my most exciting finds this spring. Back in the mid 90s, I think, I acquired ‘Belsay Gold’ comfrey (Symphytum officinale) from Heronswood. I put it in a holding bed and pampered it for a few years, enjoying its bright yellow spring leaves, cutting it back just before bloom to get another flush of yellowish green leaves for midsummer, and then letting it go green. When I moved here, I divided it, moved the pieces to the garden, and gave them the same treatment. Two years ago, I forgot to shear it before bloom. Oops.
Yellow seedlings are popping up everywhere, in all kinds of unexpected places. Most of them are behaving like their parent, quickly turning green during this heat wave. But this one seedling is staying a gorgeous yellow, even in the baking sun. Hmmm…maybe allowing one seeding event wasn’t such a mistake after all.
Now, a quick spin through some now-emerging beauties who tend to stay gold here from spring into fall, starting with golden fullmoon maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’).
‘Sunshine’ dogwood (Cornus sericea):
‘Lemon Lace’ silver fleece vine (Fallopia baldschuanica):
Golden ninebark (a seedling of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Dart’s Gold’):
Golden cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum opulus ‘Aureum’):
Chardonnay Pearls deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’):
‘Goldmound’ spirea (Spiraea):
Mellow Yellow spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’):
‘Chiba Gold’ Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica):
Golden raspberry (Rubus idaeus ‘Aureus’), being crowded by the fuzzy emerging shoots of shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia):
‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare):
Golden feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’):
Golden lemon balm (Melissa officinalis ‘All Gold’):
‘Sweet Kate’ spiderwort (Tradescantia):
‘Doone Valley’ thyme (Thymus) – it stays yellow at the tips, usually:
‘Golden Starlet’ heather (Erica carnea) – now finally wrapping up its five-month bloom period:
And last, good old ‘Angelina’ sedum set against the purple spring foliage of ‘Gerald Darby’ iris:
Whew, that’s a lot of yellow. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for staying for the whole tour.