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Going for the Gold

Going for the Gold

By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

Well campers, the Olympics may be over, but there are some great golds for your garden that come in five different forms. Gold colors have a special function in the garden; in spring they trumpet the arrival of springtime, be they daffodils, forsythia or the electric gold from Terra Nova’s two dicentra. The transition from spring to summer is heralded by Terra Nova’s Leucanthemum ‘Goldfinch’ – a true golden Shasta daisy. Summertime golds seem to translate the sun into warming hues in the garden itself. From the large golden leaves of Heuchera ‘Electra’ to the fragrant melon-yellow Echinacea ‘Aloha’, there’s always room for a golden spot in the garden. Sunflowers transition into fall, with helenium at the helm, and mums finish a year of tasty golden choices.

Can golds and yellows be overstated? Absolutely. It takes a designer’s eye to vary the shades of yellow using cool pastels, like Leucanthemum ‘Goldfinch’, that will subdue the overwrought screaming yellows. Planting dark-foliaged Penstemons like ‘Dark Towers’ or ‘Dakota Burgundy’ provide purple punctuation points precisely placed to contrast and separate golden-massed areas which can blur together. In springtime, golds are much more welcome. I have seen hundreds of gardens, in every season, and I can honestly say that Terra Nova’s golden dicentra represent the most electric yellows seen in the garden. They are quite long-lived and will persist as long as there is some moisture in the soil. Don’t forget to dry them out; they go dormant and return the following spring with great vigor.

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Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’

Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’ has exquisite, brilliant gold leaves from arching peach-colored stems. Heart-shaped rose-pink flowers hang down for months in late spring. An introduction from the late Nori Pope, formerly of Hadspen House Nursery, England, Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’ makes a dramatic statement in the spring garden. When grown in a good, compost-enriched soil, these plants can achieve a height of 36” high and spread to about 24”. These plants can suffer from too much sun or too much shade, though tolerant of the latter, and seem to prefer a Goldilocks zone in-between. Bloom time in the Pacific Northwest begins in April with rebloom into June. Hardy in U.S.D.A. Plant Hardiness Zones 4-8.

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Dicentra ‘White Gold’

This dicentra came to Terra Nova from Meg and Jim Dalton. Terra Nova’s team was delighted with the brilliant-white, heart-shaped flowers and golden leaves on this plant with great vigor. This dicentra is so clean and fresh looking it will brighten any shade garden, and its beauty and reliability will amaze you. One can grow these in zones 4-8. The stature of the plant matches Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’ and provides a different color combination. When planted with Heuchera FOREVER Purple or Heuchera GRANDE Amethyst, Dicentra ‘White Gold’ will make an unforgettable combo. Like Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’, this plant prefers a spot that’s not too sunny and not too shady.

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Echinacea ‘Aloha’

Wide, melon-yellow petals surround orange cones on this summer-to-frost bloomer. A very welcoming and elegant plant that greets you with its fragrance and beauty. Terra Nova’s breeders have created specific series of coneflowers, such as the Echinacea ‘Aloha’, that fill particular niches in the garden. This Hawaiian-themed plant stands tall at 32” and spreads to 22” wide, making them standouts in Terra Nova’s gardens. Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina says these do well in the southern heat and humidity. When grown in full sun, you can expect flowers from June to September. This plant is bred from prairie plants that grow in zones 4-8.

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Heuchera ‘Electra’

Shocking, blood-red veins electrify the golden leaves of this startling heuchera. The red venation stays while the leaf changes from shades of yellow in spring, to chartreuse in summer and fall, and then to tan in the winter. Short, dense cones of white flowers on Heuchera ‘Electra’ emerge in late spring. This vigorous, clumping H. villosa hybrid delivers what H. 'Tiramisu' promised. Heuchera ‘Electra’ is only 8” tall, with a spread of 14” and flowers to 12”. This alumroot is happy at the front of the border and is especially impactful en masse. Most gold heuchera prefer protection from late afternoon sun and this one is shade tolerant.

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Leucanthemum ‘Goldfinch’

Seen as the yellowest-flowered Shasta daisy ever! Long blooming and compact with semi-double flowers, Leucanthemum 'Goldfinch' is the product of years of breeding for yellow flowers; all other “yellow” leucanthemum seem pale in comparison! Charming semi-double flowers very slowly and gracefully change from bright lemon yellow to an ivory white. A real gem among the bland leucanthemum offerings. Hardy to zone 5, this gem will grow to 24” tall in flower. In full sun it will form a 19” high by 23” wide mound with flowers rising to the 24” mark. Expect blooms from June to August.

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Dan Heims is an award-winning author who lectures throughout the world. He was recently honored by The American Horticultural Society with the Luther Burbank Breeding Award, as well as the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit, and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Reginald Cory Cup for advancements in breeding.

You may contact Dan at [email protected].

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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