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REBEL YELLOW; Once-shunned golden shade is making a comeback, spreading joy whatever the season.


As you look out at our garden, even on a wet and miserable great glowing mass of golden stems and leaves bringing brightness and warmth to what might otherwise be a cold and dispiriting vista.

It's true that it will disappear, the leaves of the hazel and magnolias - vivid yellow and orange at the moment - will all too soon fall to the ground joined by all our golden grasses. The fan-shaped leaves of the tall, columnar ginkgo at the edge of the terrace change to brilliant yellow before they fall.

When you see them decorating the ground, you're struck by what a special tree this is. The gingko is truly unique, unrelated to any other plant. Unchanged for 200million years, a living fossil which would have been around when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

But back to the main drama - setting the garden ablaze. Another ancient tree is the Katsura, cercidyphyllum japonicum. There are several in the garden here - they are one of my favourite trees and, in addition to having the most exquisite translucent new leaves in spring, their autumn foliage is richly golden.

Probably the most breathtaking is the pendulous form that drapes itself either side of a path so you can walk under it or through it. It's like passing through a tunnel of sunlight.

The tall beeches that form the background to the shady part of the garden, though they have lost lots of their leaves, still retain enough to make a shimmering impression. All these golden leaves are transient, part of the autumn spectacle. But yellow is an important colour in the garden throughout the year.

All of these joyful yellow flowers make the garden not only brighter but happier too, because surely that is one of the qualities of yellow - to impart a feeling of joy.

About 25 years ago, yellow was a very unfashionable colour and fell out of favour with garden designers. What a ridiculous idea it is that any colour, but especially one of the three primary colours, can be avoided or played down.

Yellow is one of the constituents of green, the most important colour in our garden. Yellow gives a virility, a newness to our plots - the first daffodils awaken the feeling of resurgent growth, there are euphorbias following on in swift pursuit with their great glowing plateaux of flowers and tulips.

One of our most successful tulip plantings was of a variety called Mrs John T. Scheepers - producing huge, golden egg-shaped flowers. It was even lovely when its petals started to fall. Soon afterwards hemerocallis and trollius will be in full spate. During the course of summer, the yellow daisy clan takes over, with coreopsis, rudbeckias and sunflowers with coreopsis, rudbeckias and sunflowers in the front ranks supplemented by dahlias, helianthemums and anthemis.

Their vivid splashes of yellow add dynamism to summer and autumn planting schemes but in the shady reaches of the garden it is golden foliage that lights up the place.

Yellow leaves don't have as much chlorophyll as green leaves and their leaf surface is thinner so they tend to scorch in sun. Take advantage of their brilliant leaves by planting them in shady areas. Try goldenleaved hostas, lysimachia mummularia Aurea - golden Creeping Jenny in common parlance.

Or if you need something more substantial choose from a host of golden-leaved shrubs from Philadelphus to Cornus.

If you want a reliable, easy evergold shrub what about Ligustrum Aureum? I don't usually recommend privet but this is a brilliant, indomitable shrub that will bring a splash of gold to any part of the garden.



BIG AND GOLD Mrs John T Scheepers Tulips


DIVINE Dahlia gives vivid splashes

UNIQUE Ginko is like no other
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 30, 2014
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