What a leprechaun would treasure: golden meadowsweet

There is a crock of gold nestled in one of the borders right now, gleaming in a way that makes the rest of the garden look dull. It is a wonderful, satisfying, though brief, moment of perfection.

The roadsides here are decorated with the foliage of meadowsweet (Filpendula ulmaria) right now, thriving in moist ditches. Soon the tall stems will produce their fluffy, sweet-smelling blooms which will line the roads with creamy flowers to follow the cow parsley that currently looks so beautiful.

‘There are several ornamental forms of this attractive native and two with variegated leaves. ‘Variegata’ is by far the easiest to please, with dark green leaves, each leaflet being creamy yellow at the base. It is most effective when young but the variegation extends up the flower stems and it is quite jazzy. All forms of the plant prefer a rich soil that is moist throughout summer and if the soil is dry or too hot the plants will be stunted, though this is a tough plant with a woody base and it will tolerate some abuse.

By far the most beautiful is ‘Aurea’ which has the most glorious golden leaves, tinged with orange when young. Unfortunately this is a bit of a diva and needs careful placement. Like most ‘all gold’ plants, it scorches badly in full sun or when the soil gets dry. It will survive but the brown, crispy edges to the leaves more than spoil the effect. At the moment, my plant is a bit squashed, between a golden elder and a shrubby potentilla, and it loves it! It only gets morning sun and is lightly shaded the rest of the day. In more shade the leaves have a tendency to go lime green, rather than gold, a common problem trying to find exactly the right spot for these all-gold plants. But it is delightfully free from slug damage. Nearby I have recently planted aralia ‘Sun King’, a small plant nurtured in a pot and planted out and currently struggling to establish while every night the slugs do their best to eliminate it.

4 Comments on “What a leprechaun would treasure: golden meadowsweet”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    May 20, 2023 at 7:25 am #

    Nice plant! Is it inclined to spread?

    • thebikinggardener
      May 20, 2023 at 8:28 am #

      Not at all. It slowly builds up to a nice clump with a woody crown. It might be more vigorous in really damp soil but it is generally well behaved.

  2. Chris Mousseau
    May 20, 2023 at 7:20 pm #

    It is a stunning plant! Unfortunately “moist throughout summer” rules out a lot of things here!

    • thebikinggardener
      May 21, 2023 at 8:22 am #

      Ironically, moisture all summer can be difficult to provide even here in Ireland!

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