Hello Yellow

Front garden at Hayefield April 2009

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.

Achillea millefolium‘Aureum’ at Hayefield

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.

Carex plantaginea at Hayefield

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.

Yellow-leaved sport of Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro' at Hayefield

‘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.

Seedling of Astrantia 'Sunningdale Variegated' at Hayefield

‘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.

Thalictrum flavum 'Illuminator' at Hayefield

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.

Aquilegia 'Touchwood Supreme Mix' at Hayefield

Several more that usually stay yellow through late spring, at least, include golden honeylocust (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’)…

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ at Hayefield

…golden-leaved currant (Ribes alpinum ‘Aureum’)…

Ribes alpinum ‘Aureum’ at Hayefield

…‘Summer Sunshine’ germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)…

‘Summer Sunshine’ germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) at Hayefield

…golden wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Aureum’)…

Viburnum lantana ‘Aureum’ at Hayefield

…and golden mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’).

Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ at Hayefield

Golden hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) usually stays golden until midsummer.

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ at Hayefield

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.

Agastache foeniculus 'Golden Jubilee' at Hayefield

‘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.

‘Latifolia Maculata’ boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) at Hayefield

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.

Solid yellow sport of Saponaria officinalis ‘Variegata’ at Hayefield

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.

Symphytum 'Belsay Gold' seedlings at Hayefield

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.

Symphytum 'Belsay Gold' seedling at Hayefield

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’).

Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ at Hayefield

‘Sunshine’ dogwood (Cornus sericea):

Cornus sericea subsp. occidentalis 'Sunshine' at Hayefield

‘Lemon Lace’ silver fleece vine (Fallopia baldschuanica):

Fallopia baldschuanica 'Lemon Lace' at Hayefield

Golden ninebark (a seedling of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Dart’s Gold’):

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Dart’s Gold’ seedling at Hayefield

Golden cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum opulus ‘Aureum’):

Viburnum opulus ‘Aureum’ at Hayefield

Chardonnay Pearls deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’):

Chardonnay Pearls deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’) at Hayefield

‘Goldmound’ spirea (Spiraea):

Spiraea 'Goldmound' at Hayefield

Mellow Yellow spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’):

Mellow Yellow spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’) at Hayefield

‘Chiba Gold’ Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica):

‘Chiba Gold’ Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) at Hayefield

Golden raspberry (Rubus idaeus ‘Aureus’), being crowded by the fuzzy emerging shoots of shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia):

Rubus idaeus ‘Aureus’ with Syneilesis aconitifolia at Hayefield

‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare):

Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold' at Hayefield

Golden feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’):

Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’ at Hayefield

Golden lemon balm (Melissa officinalis ‘All Gold’):

Melissa officinalis ‘All Gold’ at Hayefield

‘Sweet Kate’ spiderwort (Tradescantia):

‘Sweet Kate’ spiderwort (Tradescantia) at Hayefield

‘Doone Valley’ thyme (Thymus) – it stays yellow at the tips, usually:

Thymus 'Doone Valley' at Hayefield

‘Golden Starlet’ heather (Erica carnea) – now finally wrapping up its five-month bloom period:

‘Golden Starlet’ heather (Erica carnea) at Hayefield

And last, good old ‘Angelina’ sedum set against the purple spring foliage of ‘Gerald Darby’ iris:

Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' against Iris 'Gerald Darby' at Hayefield

Whew, that’s a lot of yellow. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for staying for the whole tour.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa at Greenbow on April 28, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Wow Nan, I forget how large your garden is until I start reading all of the beautiful collections of flowers, grasses, shrubs etc that you have. It always amazes me. I often become entranced by some plant you have and try to seek it out. Lovely one and all.

    Thanks, Lisa. To be honest, I was kind of surprised how many golden plants I have out there. And there are many more that didn’t photograph well, or that aren’t out yet. There’s a lot to look forward to yet!
    -Nan

  2. Hi Nan, you are a big fan of yellow and yellowish foliage, even the achillea with the less than stellar description! HA Don’t you have the golden elderberry too? S. Aurea? Nice to see that your place has gone from white to multi so quickly, or is it nice? I am slightly worried here with the abrupt change from frost to 90 degrees. Hard to keep the seedlings watered.
    Frances

    Ugh, I’m with you about the watering woes, Frances. Hopefully that will change soon for both of us.

    Yes, I have Sambucus nigra ‘Aurea’, but the heat has made the emerging leaves look boring green. I did get a decent shot of Sambucus racemosa ‘Sutherland Gold’. but it didn’t make the cut for this post, because the new growth is mostly red right now.
    -Nan

  3. You have an amazing group of plants there — and that’s only the yellows! Carex plantaginea has to be one of the most stalwart plants there is. Mine grows under a big silver maple and just lights up the ground at this season.

    *Anything* that’ll grow under a silver maple is a gem, I think! Such a workhorse perennial, and pretty too.
    -Nan

  4. Wow that’s a ton of yellow! This has got to be one of the best times of year with all the new foliage coming out everywhere. Already things here are starting to get their more mature leaves, so less yellow. There’s a lot to look forward to though!

    Yes, heat does have a way of shortening the season for some of the yellow-leaved beauties. I guess that’s to make us appreciate those that *stay* yellow all the more, huh?
    -Nan

  5. Posted by Sylvia (England) on April 29, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Thanks Nan, this is a really useful post. It isn’t always easy to know which plants stay yellow-ish through the season and which quickly change, without growing them. I am trying to add more chartreuse foliage to my garden, so this is a very timely post.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    I’m glad you found it useful, Sylvia. Many of the best season-long yellows are still to come, so maybe I’ll revisit this in a month or two.
    -Nan

  6. Posted by ourfriendben on April 29, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Yum, Nan! What a marvelous collection!!! I of course am dying of envy, especially for your yellow-levaed daylily and comfrey. Wow! I’ve been enjoying watching my ‘Aureum’ fullmoon maple brightening the shade garden as the leaves unfold, too. I assume the absence of photos of yellow-leaved hostas was intentional, but what about ‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart and the yellow-leaved redbud cultivar (whose name is of course escaping me)? Both hold their color for me.

    ‘Gold Heart’ isn’t here for the same reason I don’t have hostas; simply too hot and sunny. And yep, Cercis ‘Hearts of Gold’ is nice, but it’s not in leaf yet.
    -Nan

  7. I just talked a friend into buying the Golden Feverfew. She was looking for purple or red foliaged things to balance all the chartreuse she already has, but I convinced her she needed this one too. Why didn’t I get one also? I’m such a fan of this color. It makes any color I like look better. I’ve been selecting Columbine seedlings for brighter yellow foliage that stays that way all season. I’m not familiar with the Touchwood Supremes. Mine are out of ‘Woodside Variegated,’ ‘Italian White,’ and ‘Leprechaun Gold.’

    Isn’t that golden feverfew just awesome? And so easy from seed. What a treasure! Seed for the ‘Touchwood Supreme Mix’ columbines came through Plant World, from the garden that holds the National Plant Collection of Aquilegia vulgaris cultivars and hybrids in Britain. Watching these seedlings come into bloom is so exciting, because there’s such variety in the flower forms as well as some foliage variations. If you want to see some awesome columbines, check out the Touchwood site directly.
    -Nan

  8. I just purchased Gold Heart BH and look forward to having it brighten a slightly shady spot over here! Fun collection of plants!

    Good choice, Shady! It truly is a beauty, and I bet it’ll thrive in your conditions.
    -Nan

  9. Heh, had to laugh when I saw your astrantia ex. Sunningdale Variegated. That’s just what mine look like. Of course I never had the real thing – I traded for seed, taking my chances many years ago. They were never variegated, but the pale color persists to this day.

    Hi Rob! I saw the piture on your web site, and yep, it’s the same thing. I see that someone has put a name on these solid yellows: ‘Sunningdale Gold’.
    -Nan

  10. Posted by Nancy on April 30, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for the pics. I love to look. My golden hops vine is well up its 10ft. tuteur, thanks to the heat wave of the past couple of days, and I noticed this morning that Dicentra “Gold Heart” has started to bloom. Other golden leafed denizens of my garden currently include the agastache “Golden Jubilee” you show, as well as (for those looking for other golden leaved plants): sambucus “Sutherland Gold”; caryopteris x ‘Worcester Gold’ (so-so gold leaves) and ‘Sunshine Blue’ (much improved gold leaves); carex varieties “Bowles Golden” and c. siderosticha ‘Lemon Zest’ (wide ribbons of bright yellow!!); heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’; and Geranium cultivars ‘Patricia’ and ‘Ann Folkard’. Also showing good golden/chartreuse color right now are the ubiquitous Euphorbia polychroma and the “too-happy-in-my-garden” e. cyprissus “Fen’s Ruby’ (which actually has deep red leaves at this point but wonderful chartreuse bracts). This is my first year with the Euphorbia cultivar ‘Jessie’, which is said to have bright yellow bracts edged in orange, cut the leaves are up and showing very nice yellow veination, so I am hopeful it will flower as advertised. Also up and looking very golden is my Japanese blood grass, which starts out chartreuse-yellow with red tips and ages to green with red tips. Living in a pot right now is Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious,’ with apple red flowers, bright yellow foliage that holds its colour most of the year and the smell of pineapple. A couple of years ago I had a lovely Helleborus foetidus cultivar with yellow foliage (I think it was called ‘Golden Nugget’), but that has proven short-lived and disappeared out of the garden. In my wanderings through area nurseries, I saw a wonderful gold-bladed dwarf mondo “grass” the other day, but didn’t make note of the variety/cultivar names. Terra Nova supposedly has a new bergenia cultivar which has yellow leaves and the usual rosey flowers, which I think would be wild, and a geum with gold foliage and orange flowers, Then, of course, there are all the yellow leaved heucheras that have appeared, and the hardy geraniums with chartreuse tones in their leaves . . . Ah, too much temptation (and looking at my list it looks like I give in to that temptation much too often!)

    It’s almost a little creepy how very similar our plant acquisitions are, Nancy. I think you need to start a blog of your own. I’d love to see how you use these plants in your garden!
    -Nan

    • Posted by Nancy on May 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm

      Let’s not call our mutual plant choices “creepy.” Rather, let us describe them as indicative of our finally tuned mutual good taste! THAT sounds so much lovelier!

      One plant I failed to mention in the show of gold (probably because I hadn’t realized just how golden the foliage is on emergence — at least for me) is Acer pensylvanicum “Erythrocladum.” This is a rather scarce hardy native striped bark maple(to Zone 3). I love the striped bark, but what sold me on this woody (and I bought it in February of 2008) was the colour of the stems. When the weather gets cold, the bark turns crimson-coral and is a sight to behold. Take my word for it, the colour is breathtaking. For those who lust for Acer palmatum “Sangu kaku” and the winter colour it provides, but find that the tips of the branches die back in anything colder than Zone 6b, this could be a solution — and definitely not one of those “I have to settle for . . .” plants. Broken Arrow Nursery here in Connecticut has it it their list for this year, if anyone is interested.

      Of course, you’re right; we’re just two Nancys with excellent taste in plants! I appreciate the extra recommendations, too.
      -Nan

  11. Nan, How I missed this great post is a total surprise…so many great plants for me to pick and choose among. C&L could use more of these colors to temper all the green! We have had 3 days of rain with more to come…it’s made planting impossible, sigh. But does it look green out there! gail

    It sure *is* looking very green outside – and very chartreuse, too!
    -Nan

  12. Lovely, Nan. That ninebark looks terrific, and if an elderberry I have doesn’t start kicking it up, ninebark will move in. I hope this is the year my ‘Ogon’ spiraea grows–it’s still maybe 18″ tall and wide, and I want 4-5′! Also, my ‘Illuminator’ meadow rue has been staying fairly yellow this year, not sure why–it’s been cold, then hot, then cold, then tepid….

    Good to have you visit, Benjamin! How interesting to hear about your ‘Illuminator’ performing well. It’s a quirky thing. I’ll send positive thoughts for some good growth on your ‘Ogon’ spirea. Mine did seem to take a few years to settle in, so maybe yours just needs a little more time.
    -Nan

  13. Posted by Cyd on May 5, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    That was a beautiful ride. I love the colors of spring. I was fascinated by the look of the shredded umbrella plant. I’m going to look for one. I esp. love the feverfew. Mine survived our snowy winter and I am happy to see it.

    Welcome, Cyd! I’m glad to meet another yellow fan. I see that Plant Delights has Syneilesis aconitifolia listed; you may want to check it out. It’s a very cool plant!
    -Nan

  14. I am a gold foliage FREAK! I love many of the ones you’ve listed and I’m happy to have found a few new ones to check out.

    Some favorites you don’t have listed include ‘Tiger Eyes’ Sumac, ‘Sutherland Gold’ Elderberry and ‘Blue Eyed Blonde’ Campanula.

    I’ve also grown to love the golden conifers such as ‘Skylands’ Oriental Spruce, ‘Sun Gold’ Chamaecyparis (many other cultivars too), Picea mariana ‘Golden’, ‘Chief Joseph’ Pine- which would be losing it’s gold color now, it’s school bus yellow all winter long and so many others.

    Hey there, fellow freak! I totally second the sumac and sambucus; it’s just that they hadn’t leafed out soon enough for the post. Thanks for mentioning some of your other favorites, too.
    -Nan

  15. Hahaha… I’m still giggling at why you call your soapwort a “short-lived” plant. :) (Yeah, I’m easily amused–and highly susceptible to garden humor!)

    The bloom day posts are always nice, but it’s these foliage combinations that really do it for me, more so than the flowers, even. And this particular post is a little more wonderful to read because I was just wondering if I might have too many yellows in my garden. I’m not up to your level yet, so I guess not!

    Too many yellows? But, but…what more cheerful color for spring?

    Oh, yeah – I’m gonna get that soapwort one of these days. But I have a feeling it won’t give up easily.
    -Nan

  16. I love golden foliage too, but no part of my garden gets more than four hours of sun a day, and beyond hostas and heucheras, I’m limited in my choices. However, Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) ‘All Gold’ and ‘Aureola’ are great all season golds if you have a lot of shade. Ditto for Carex ‘Bowles Golden,’ which absolutely blazes in my garden.

    I planted an ‘Orange Dream’ Japanese maple last year–emerging leaves are bright gold with lovely red margins, but now in early June it’s transitioning to chartreuse.

    I’m with you on the Hakonechloa, Victoria. Even though my shade is limited, I make room there for ‘Aureola’ (and would for ‘All Gold’, as well, if I could find a decent-sized plant that I could afford). I too love ‘Bowles’ Golden’, but it doesn’t like me. I’m glad it does well for you, though. And thanks for the info on ‘Orange Dream’; the catalog pictures of the new foliage are drool-inducing, but I wondered how it looked later on.
    -Nan

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