Friday, January 20, 2012

Colorful Evergreens in the Landscape-Part I: Golden Evergreens

Golden Evergreens in the Landscape
When planning a garden design it is important to incorporate interesting structure and color into the landscape so that there is eye-catching interest all year long. Golden evergreens will not only add structure but will enhance the landscape with their outstanding show of color.  There are a variety of golden evergreens available to the homeowner to implement into the landscape.  There are six in particular that I will focus on in this article that have proven to be hardy in the zone 7 northeastern garden and that will thrive in zones ranging from 4 to 8.

Picea orientalis 'Skylands'
The first in this series is Picea Orientalis 'Skylands' or Skyland's Oriental Spuce.  'Skylands' is a slow growing coniferous tree that prefers full sun to partial shade and is hardy in USDA zones 5-8.  It is true that younger specimens of this tree can be prone to sun scorch so ideally 4-8 hours of sun is best.  I have been successful when planting 'Skylands' in a southeasterly exposure in zone 7.  Grow this tree in a moist well-drained acidic soil and apply mulch around the tree to protect the roots.  After ten years of growth Skylands reaches a height of approximately ten feet and a width of four feet and can grow to a height of 35 feet over time in ideal conditions.  Being a slow grower and having a narrow stature this tree is ideal for smaller spaces.    Its beautiful yellow-chartreuse candles and densely arranged needles make this tree a conversation piece in the landscape.  Mature trees develop small reddish-purple cones that only add to the beauty of this tree.  This tree is truly a favorite!
Chamaecyparis pisifera filifera 'Gold Mop'
The next of the gold series is Chamaecyparis pisifera filifera 'Gold Mop' or Gold Mop Cypress.  Gold Mop Cypress is a small golden conifer with delicate thread-like textured foliage.  This relatively hardy shrub is best grown in full sun in a well-drained acidic soil in zones 4-8.  It displays a low mounding mop -like appearance and reaches a height and width of 3 feet making it an excellent accent plant along with other evergreens and perennials.  Chamaecyparis 'Gold Mop' retains its yellow-golden color all winter and stays compact unlike its counterpart 'Gold Thread' Cypress which becomes more bronzed and reaches a height of 15 feet over time. 

Euonymus japonica 'Aureo Marginata'
Another favorite addition for golden color is Euonymus japonica 'Aureo Marginata' or Golden Euonymus which is not a conifer but rather a broadleaved evergreen.   Golden Euonymus is hardy in USDA zones 6-8 and prefers a moist, well-drained neutral-acidic soil and full sun to partial shade.    This evergreen displays yellow-green shiny foliage all year round and is fairly slow growing.  It reaches a maximum height and width of 4-6' but can be kept compact with regular maintenance pruning. These shrubs serve nicely as either foundation plantings or in an informal garden.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea Nana'

Next on the list is Chamaecyapris obtusa 'Aurea' or Golden Hinoki Cypress.  Golden Hinoki Cypress ranges in a variety of sizes from the species 'Nana' which is dwarf in size (2-3' in height)  to 'Compacta' which is medium height (10-20 ' in height) to 'Gracillis' (40-60' in height).  Hinoki Cypress are hardy in USDA zones 4-8 and display luxurious golden twisted compact foliage throughout all the seasons.  These evergreens prefer to be grown in full sun in a moist but well-drained acidic soil.  Some of the more popular varieties are Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea Nana' (seen here), 'Verdoni' which displays a deeper yellow foliage and grows a bit taller to 6-8 feet and 'Confucious' which is a newer slower growing variety with broader yellow foliage on emerald green under layers and growing to 4-6 feet in height.  'Crippsi' is a popular golden variety growing to 15-30 feet and can be used as either a specimen or incorporated into a privacy screening.  Each one of these varieties is more beautiful than the next and serve as excellent specimens in the landscape.  Hinoki Cypress can be used as a focal point in a foundation planting or as a stand alone piece in a cottage garden, evergreen garden or perennial border.  These magnificent beauties will add outstanding interest to just about any landscape.

Cedrus deodara 'Aurea'
Golden Deodara Cedar (Cedrus deodara 'Aurea') is another magnificent focal point in the landscape.  It is one of the larger golden evergreens ranging in size from 15-25 feet in height to 80-100 feet in height depending on the particular species.  Deodara Cedar 'Aurea' displays a rich golden-yellow color on graceful wispy branches.  They prefer to be grown in full sun in a moist but well-drained soil and are hardy in USDA zones 6-8.  Cedrus deodara 'Gold Cone' (shown here) grows to height of 20-30 feet and displays beautiful pendulous branches covered in green-yellow foliage and grows in a more vertical fashion thus taking up less space in the landscape than some other cedars.  Golden deodara Cedar is often used as an anchor plant or specimen planting in the landscape.
Juniperus chinensis 'Gold Lace'
Last but not least on the list of golden evergreens is Juniperus chinensis  'Gold Lace'. Gold Lace Juniper displays spreading arching golden-green branches and reaches a mature height of 3-4 feet and width of 4-6 feet.   It is hardy in zones 4-8 and prefers to be grown in full sun to maintain its golden color which appears on new growth.  Juniperus 'Gold Lace' also prefers to be grown in a moist yet well-drained neutral to acidic soil.  This attractive golden shrub can be regularly pruned to keep the plant more compact.  Uses of this evergreen in the landscape are versatile ranging from usage as a foundation planting to incorporating this lovely addition into an evergreen or perennial garden.

There is nothing like a little bit of gold to liven up any landscape and these golden specimens will add interesting texture, graceful foliage and outstanding color to the garden.  When asked which one is my favorite I would have to say it is a toss up between the Golden Oriental Spruce and the Golden Hinoki Cypress.   The 'Skylands' Spruce has a special meaning for me since it was planted as a memorial for my mom and I see it every day as I enter our property.  Once I saw its outstanding beauty for the first time I fell in love with this tree.  I also enjoy my Golden Hinoki Cypress which is at the entrance to our yard. Its color is vibrant and its foliage so delicate and attractive.  If you are looking to transform your landscape into one of color that can be enjoyed throughout every season try adding some of these beauties.  You will be glad you did!

As always...Happy Gardening.

Author:  Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved.


  1. I've enjoyed this post and appreciate all the information. My Skylands is approaching 5' but unfortunately the rabbits did a lot of damage when it was younger. I now keep it wrapped with wire but it is an odd loosely shaped thing and I'm not sure what to do about it. It does indeed hold its color well, however. I was surprised that the rabbits would eat the needles on a spruce tree. Larry

  2. These are all beautiful! Thank you so much for all the information. I realize now my garden could use a little golden touch to it.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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