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Whats Blooming Paradise: Gold Mound

March 14, 2012
Anita Force Marshall , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

First impression: Wow, what a fabulous display - Cascades of tiny light lavender flowers draped with glowing yellow berries. A dramatic must have color combo, surrounded by a natural shaped ever chartreuse green shrub. I notice butterflies all around waiting to sip from the flowers sweet nectar. Golden mounds of glowing yellowish green leaves, hence the name Gold Mound. What a show stopper! You can marvel at this glistening display that never runs out of sparkle in full bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: I discover that the genus Duranta hails from tropical South America. They are in the large family of plants known as the Verbenaceae or Lantana family. Our species is an evergreen shrub whose leaves are the year round star. Light colored new growth is a chartreuse golden hue. Mature leaves are a striking glowing light green. You can only imagine how these colors draw your eye to them. Add the small corolla shaped fringed flowers of light purple and oh my. Beautifully dotted and lined nectar guides appear in the throats of white or violet that really make this flower gorgeous up close. They are small but numerous in numbers and grouped beautifully in a pendulant raceme fashion. Pea-sized round fruits are just as showy in a sunshine yellow to citrus orange color range. Guess what? The fruits and flowers occur together and cover our star in a cant take my eyes off you display. Gold Mound is my number one favorite to suggest for shorter hedges. Its growth habit lends itself to low level for a view or tall and bushy for privacy with a wonderful display of color and habit friendliness. It's a great food source for birds, butterflies, pollinators and wildlife. You will enjoy watching garden birds hop from twig to twig. The small Warblers are attracted to the insects that hover around the flowers. Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Thrashers, and Catbirds not only look for insects but also relish the juicy berries. Mature height for this natural shaped shrub is around 4-5 feet tall. I have had great success with naturally pruning it to not so much from the sides, but at the top for height. This means no hedging or edging, so that it doesn't look like a mushroom or box. Plants have a natural shape, which should be mimicked when pruning. Out dated, over pruning is a huge waste of resources and leads to a very unhappy, unhealthy and unattractive garden. Always a winner, for it is in the little or no pests, drought tolerant and few diseases category. I liken this tropical plant to the Buddleia or butterfly bush-which doesn't grow well in SW Florida. We have many opportunities as tropical gardeners, to be creative with our northern memories using substitutes of southern realities. Your butterflies will thank you!

Pros : Ever blooming Drought tolerant - Very attractive to wildlife - Full sun to partial - Minimal insect damage - Blooming brings in the pollinators Butterflies may give you butterfly kisses! Great low growing for a view area Versatile with pruning Brings that glimmer of chartreuse to your garden - Can be purchased as a standard (Looks like a tree)

Article Photos

Cons: Can get twiggy over time if hedged and edged - Not cold tolerant turns dark - May grow weary with re-telling name of that glowing gold plant - Non native Blooming brings in the bees - Will want more and more!

Conclusion: Follow the butterflies to these mounds of golden leaves at the end of a lilac rainbow. Don't let anyone know if you find a leprechaun hiding in our tropical eye catching garden.

Don't wanna miss this bloomer!

 
 

 

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