A touch of gold

‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’ was something I was told by my parents, usually loudly, with persistent regularity in my childhood. I have fought against it in my life but, although I know that variegated plants should be used with discretion in the garden and always as accents among ‘plainer’ plants, here I am lumping lots together. I suppose I may have an excuse since, in my days restoring E A Bowles’ garden I had to recreate an area that he dubbed ‘Tom Tiddler’s ground where he accumulated all his white and yellow-variegated and gilded plants – not the way to do it but the way he wanted.

My ‘lemon meringue’ garden is embracing some new perennials this year, bought in autumn and potted in preparation, replacing the annuals that were grown last year. This is all part of the evolution of a garden.

The most exciting (for me at least) is Solidago ‘Hiddigeigei’. I know nothing about it apart from the fact that it is probably a hybrid goldenrod and the only reference I can find to the word Hiddigeigei is that it is a cat in the poem Der Trompeter von Sackingen. He is black with green eyes and I can’t for the life of me imagine that the plant is named after him! Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I would like to know more about the plant too.

Anyway, it should reach about 60cm high and have the usual goldenrod flowers in late summer. The leaves should remain yellow until July when they may become green – we will see. The plant, at present, is an incredible clump of narrow, bright yellow leaves, more intense than any flower. I suspect that I may learn that it needs some shade, in common with many yellow-leaved plants, but I will make sure it does not dry out and hope it does not scorch. If it stays as good as it is now I will be highly delightedd.


This is hemerocallis ‘Golden Zebra’ which is also planted here because of the brightly variegated leaves. It is a smaller-growing day lily and unlike the other variegated hemerocallis I grow, is neat and forms tight clumps and does not revert badly. I may regret planting it here only because the flowers are orange and a bit brassy for my desired colour scheme here but then rules are meant to be broken and the leaves will be present far longer than the flowers.

7 Comments on “A touch of gold”

  1. tonytomeo
    April 25, 2021 at 7:16 am #

    My mother only mentioned that golden foliage looks sickly, and I never forgot it. I am none too keen on bronze foliage either, even if the Schwedler Norway maple is one of my favorites. I do happen to like white or silver variegation, particularly in the shade of the redwoods.
    In downtown Santa Cruz, there are two businesses in identical halves of the same building. One is landscaped with golden foliage, and the other is landscaped with the exact same species, but cultivars with rich bronze foliage. It is weirdly symmetrical, so that the golden New Zealand flax on one side is about as big as the bronze New Zealand flax on the other. The golden smoke tree matches its bronze counterpart, and so on. It is weird bur rad!

    • thebikinggardener
      April 25, 2021 at 8:37 am #

      That is a really interesting idea – must be really fun to see. And yes, white-variegated leaves do brighten up shady spots. I am not as fussy with variegated plants as I should be but the ‘stamp collector’ side of my nature is attracted to anything unusual even if it is not always an improvement on the usual.

      • tonytomeo
        April 25, 2021 at 9:30 am #

        Yes, that landscape is the sort that really makes one stop and look. They happen to be nicely lush (but not overgrown) landscapes too, right downtown! It is funny to me that I am not so keen on golden or bronze foliage, and I am not so keen on some of the species within the landscape, but I so like the effect of the composition.

        • thebikinggardener
          April 26, 2021 at 10:20 am #

          A bit like a recipe – I wouldnt care to eat 100g of flour, or butter or sugar – but give me a cake anyday!

          • tonytomeo
            April 30, 2021 at 5:40 am #

            Yes, but it might be amusing to someone else eat all that sugar! Some weird landscapes are fun to see, even if we would not do such things in our own gardens.

  2. Paddy Tobin
    April 26, 2021 at 8:34 am #

    We grow Hemerocallis ‘Golden Zebra’ here and I value its foliage in shade where it shines out. The flower is disappointing as the yellow is lost against the leaf.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 26, 2021 at 10:19 am #

      Flowers on variegated plants are such a conundrum! Would bright red flowers be better? I think not – and pink would be hideous. I think that flowers that ‘hide’ are often better on plants with boldly variegated leaves.

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