Highlights in the Garden: Going for Gold Foliage

July 14th 2017
Four Seasons

Gold in the Landscape

Gold. Not the first color you may think of for the landscape, but in a carefully prepared design, gold foliage plants can provide real visual impact and warm up the garden. Gold foliage is very much on trend. When it comes to golden foliage, the garden just can’t have enough, according to the Garden Media 2017 forecast.

Gold is back in the spotlight, and its popularity in home décor, fashion and the garden is expected to last a decade. When used outdoors, pops of gold warm up spaces and create the feeling of outdoor rooms. Plus, the reflective accent helps move light and make the garden “glitter.” —2017 Garden Trends Report, Grow 365

According to Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, a landscape designer and blogger in Tucson, Arizona. “Gold is having a magic moment that will last several years. One amazing thing about plants with gold leaves in any region, when planted in mass, they are complete show stoppers, like amber waves of grain.”

How to Add Gold to Your Garden

Gold foliage plants can brighten an otherwise dark area of the shade garden and give the sunny garden an absolute glow. Paired with bolder foliage, such as hostas and rhododendrons, golden foliage plants create impact without overwhelming.

Here are some favorites:

Shrubs and Trees

  • Golden junipers like ‘Gold Lace’ are hardy evergreens that remain gold, even during winter.
  • Euonymus fortunei ‘Canadale Gold’ features oval evergreen leaves variegated with wide bright yellow leaf margins.
  • Golden barberry, super bright solid yellow foliage which retains its color well.
  • Spirea ‘Goldmound’ has vibrant golden spring foliage accented by clusters of pink flowers, which cools to a yellowish green in summer, then a rich, yellowish orange in fall.
  • Katsura Japanese maple produces fantastic pale orange-yellow spring foliage, gradually fading to medium green in early summer. 
  • Acer Palmatum Sango Kaku, another Japanese Maple, is sometimes called coral bark maple for its distinctive and showy pink bark, which provides excellent color and contrast to landscapes in winter.
  • Rising Sun Redbud, golden yellow leaves that turn shades of orange in the fall.

Perennials and Grasses

  • Dicentra spectabilis ‘Goldheart’ is a golden bleeding heart with rosy pink flowers. The foliage maintains its golden color throughout the growing season.
  • Hostas ‘Sun Power,’ ‘Sum and Substance,’ ‘Sunflower,’ Gold Standard, and ‘Afterglow’ are just a handful.
  • Heucherella ‘Sunspot’ has bright yellow foliage with red veining. Colourful pink flowers appear in spring.
  • Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ is an excellent shade garden choice.
  • Sweet flag: Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ is a striking ornamental grass with fragrant, greenish-yellow leaves. Also Acorus gramineus ‘Golden Pheasant’ and ‘Minimum Aureus.’


  • Sweet potato vine is a trailing annual with splashy, lime-green leaves. This frilly plant looks great in hanging baskets or window boxes.
  • Coleus, in several varieties, banded and veined with multiple colors like purple, lime, red, brown, white, and copper, in a variety of lacy or plain shapes.
  • Oxalis vulcanicola ‘Molten Lava’ produces stunning orange-chartreuse foliage and decorative golden-yellow flowers all spring and summer. 

In Summary

When people think of color in the garden, they naturally think of flowers. But many plants exhibit eye-catching foliage color. Gold foliage includes a range of light yellow to pure gold. The list of golden plants includes everything from annuals and perennials to trees and shrubs. It’s time to add a splash of instant sunshine to a shady corner or a landscape with a lot of deep evergreen foliage.