Monday, January 2, 2012

Some Golden Leaves

Der Kuss (The Kiss) 1907-1908
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Osterreichiseme Galerie, Vienna

The ultimate chill out concert by the Vienna Philharmonic on New Year's Day (Das Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker) which always features the calming music of the Strauss family composers, was this year dedicated to the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt as a way of celebrating his 150th birthday in 2012. Klimt used gold leaf extensively during his "golden years" being influenced by the Byzantine period of art. The painting from that period The Kiss is the most famous work and yesterday's concert included a ballet work performed in front of it.
I have always liked golden leaved plants but they can be tricky to incorporate into a garden as they can look harsh and turn brown when grown in full sun. However for dull or shady garden places they bring light and vibrancy and are indispensable as a contrast to darker foliaged plants which tend to disappear and lose impact in such spots. Here are a couple of examples of golden leaves.

The gold leafed Geraniums (Pelargoniums) do well under deciduous trees as they enjoy the winter sunshine and summer shade. They are able to cope with the often drier conditions brought about by tree roots as they seek out moisture. They can also easily be grown in pots and moved about to different places in the garden to add brightness where necessary.
More shade lovers here including the dwarf golden bamboo Pleioblastus viridistriatus, the variegated Viburnum tinus showing some small pink buds and below, the large leafed Acanthus mollis 'Hollard's Gold'. The golden bamboo is a runner but rarely reaches more than 40 cm tall. It needs a cut back in late winter to ground level to make way for the new leaves to emerge in spring. The Viburnum is slow but is quite delicate in appearance and a better choice than the strident Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'. The golden Acanthus is a favourite because the leaves change colour as they mature, and with the seasons, from bright yellow to lime green. The other shrub to look out for, which I have featured in an earlier post is Berberis thunbergii 'Aurea' which you can't beat for amazing golden colour.

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