You might associate yellow flowers with the sunny peak of summer, but golden foliage imparts instant warmth to a landscape year-round. Especially valuable in regions dominated by cloudy skies and diffused light, gold-leaf plants supply the missing sunshine. Shady areas, a frequent challenge in mature landscapes, take on a glow with golden foliage. You have many options when it comes to painting the border gold. The gold-tone leaf has become a focus in recent breeding and gilds everything from ground covers and vines to trees.
Most foliage shows a hint of gold when first emerging in spring. Most tree and shrub foliage turns to burnished gold, prompted by fall frosts. Conifers, including Chamaecyparis, wear winter cloaks of gold-tinged green.
Other gold nugget plants include the most popular ornamental grasses for shade, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' and sedges. Are you bold enough for bamboo? Consider the 'Golden Goddess' and yellow-groove bamboos.
Pale gold and green-and-gold variegated hostas, reportedly more tolerant of sun, include 'Frances Williams' and 'Gold Standard.' Gold-splashed varieties of ligularia, a large-leaf perennial, offer other options for shade. Among vines, 'Gold Net' variegated honeysuckle goes airborne with golden foliage. Low to the ground, golden creeping Jenny and Veronica repens fill in gaps with their sunshine.
All that glitters doesn't necessarily pan out in a garden's design. Here are some locations where gold plants will pay high dividends:
- As an underplanting around trees and shrubs in shady areas.
- Contrasting and highlighting purple-leaf perennials and shrubs.
- Mingling with silver-variegated plants such as lungwort. Gray leaves cast a violet glow over gold and soften its impact.
- Blending with yellow- and green-variegated leaves, gold foliage looks as pretty and prominent as soft-yellow flowers.