Looking for gold

Golden feverfew…one of my favorites!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and the leprechauns are out and about leading the foolish away from their gold. After the freezing rain and snow on Sunday and the fog yesterday I’m hoping for a decent day today for a walkabout. I’ll be searching for gold, although none that belongs to the leprechauns, and looking for spots to add some more! I LOVE the way gold foliage brightens up dark areas and provides a bit of contrast in the borders, even when there are no flowers. I have to admit that wasn’t always the case, as early on in my gardening experience I refused to have yellow leaves because to me it signaled a sick plant! Happily, my view has matured.

One of my very, very favorite perennial golds is shown above. “Gold Moss” feverfew is a low-growing (6″ or so) fine-leaved plant that maintains its golden foliage year-round, even here in Zone 4b/5a where temps can fall to minus 25 degrees. This year, it got very little snow cover for protection, but as you can see, it’s still looking great. It’s happy in full sun or partial shade. Too much shade and it is more chartreuse than gold, and if your summers are scorchers, there may be a bit of tip browning. One can’t ask for a tidier, undemanding plant. In late summer, it has tiny cream-colored flowers, and will do a bit of self-seeding if allowed, although that doesn’t happen often in my mulched beds.

Sedum “Angelina”

Another hardy, hardy perennial (as long as it has good drainage) is Sedum “Angelina.” A low-growing creeper, this sedum is a favorite in containers, where it can trail down elegantly from edges. In cooler temperatures, the gold needle-shaped leaves often get a coppery-cast which is lovely in autumn. In warmer temperatures the leaves are gold to chartreuse. Happily, a piece that breaks off will root easily, and clumps of “Angelina” can be dug and moved at any time of the year. I’ve grown it for years, and wouldn’t be without it, especially in dry window boxes or along hot sidewalks.

Coleus “Wizard Gold”

Last year I grew Coleus “Wizard Gold” from seed, and I’m growing it again this year. Coleus is very slow from seed (not as bad as lisianthus though!) so I seed it in early January and start it on heat mats. It’s a tropical plant, grown as an annual here in Indiana and elsewhere that winter occurs. It performed extremely well in both full sun and partial shade and provided a much-needed bright spot under my black walnut trees and under the elder. I also used it in containers and along the Deck sidewalk. This year, I’m adding some to the potager’s exterior border. It’s definitely a keeper.

Two golden shrubs in the Front Garden.

Two years ago, I added two golden evergreens to the Front Garden. Sadly, they don’t look any larger today than when they were planted! I’ll have to do some research to see what I can do to help, but I love the contrast with the purple crocus.

Golden oregano…a reliable creeper.

To brighten up the potager’s interior border, there’s golden oregano shown above with some “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce on the right, and some white blossoming cilantro volunteers popping here and there. Golden oregano keeps its bright color all summer and fall. In the winter and early spring, it’s a bit more green than gold but still a light color. It is a spreader, forming a matted groundcover, which can be a good thing in the right place. It’s also good in containers, and has a good flavor.

There are also a few golden foliaged hostas in the shadier gardens, but I’m searching for more gold leaves, preferably plants without pink or red flowers if they do flower. What are your favorites? I need some suggestions.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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3 Responses to Looking for gold

  1. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I love the way those golds sing out and light up darker areas! have no recommendations I’m afraid.


  2. Rose East says:

    These are beautiful. I might have to look into growing some of these that you have as perennials next year.


  3. Interesting post! I totally agree with you that having some golden foliage brightens up and adds interest to the planting. Love the effect of your golden oregano with lettuce and coriander/cilantro flowering through it. I will look out for that sedum too. I use Alchemilla mollis and euphorias, both fine in shadier spots, and my new favourite is Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’, the Japanese forest grass.


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