Chartreuse adds color to gardens year round

Chartreuse adds color to gardens year round

Chartreuse is a striking color in the garden. It creates great contrast and excitement in areas of the garden that might otherwise be rather drab. In the John W. Nason garden, two plants come to mind immediately when talking about creating a dramatic effect with their colored foliage, Cotinus coggygria Golden SpiritTM and Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’.

In the newly re-designed island bed along the pathway between Hicks Hall and Pearson Hall, Cotinus coggygria Golden SpiritTM provides a dramatic focal point that your eye is drawn to immediately. This cultivar of the smokebush produces dramatic chartreuse foliage which effectively enlivens this corner of the garden. It provides great contrast in comparison to the mass of plantings that surround this nook in the Nason garden.

The most common cultivars of Cotinus feature some variation on purple toned foliage like rich maroon (C. ‘Royal Purple’) or dark purple (C. ‘Velvet Cloak’). Both of these cultivars can be found around the Rose Garden Circle adding their distinctive touch to the garnet color scheme of this planting echoing the Swarthmore College school color. It is exciting to have the cultivar C. Golden SpiritTM provide another great foliage color that creates impressive displays with their flower peduncles from June to August. We treat this cultivar as a cutback shrub to encourage vigorous new growth with brilliantly colored foliage. This is the same maintenance technique we use on the cultivars around the Rose Garden Circle.

A groundcover which provides great color contrast in the John W. Nason garden is Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’. Commonly known as St. Johns wort, the cultivar H. ‘Brigadoon’ is used as a creeping ground cover that reaches only about 6 inches tall with light yellow to chartreuse evergreen foliage. Now that Clethra has finished with its show, a H. ‘Brigdoon’ provides a great focal interest along the pathway between Trotter Hall and Pearson Hall (credit bonthrone). As you can see from the images, their chartreuse foliage really “pops” in comparison the shade of green from Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’.

In addition to its striking foliage, H. ‘Brigdoon’ has brilliant yellow flowers from June through August. It works well as a plant to stabilize banks as well as providing interest from summer to winter.

To see how a perennial border dominated by chartreuse foliage can enliven a shade garden, visit our Terry Shane Teaching Garden. H. ‘Brigadoon’ is also our giveaway plant at the final Sunset Sippin’: Chartreuse and Chardonnay on Thursday, September 11 from 6 to 8 pm. Pre-register for this event to enjoy the chartreuse foliage, tastings of wine from Paradoxc Vineyard, conversation with friends, and receive a free H. ‘Brigadoon’ to try in your garden.

Becky Robert
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