NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Nine shrubs and groundcovers with various shades of yellow and gold foliage -- all meant to brighten the garden -- are featured in this year's Beautiful Gardens lineup.
Since 2009, the Virginia-based plant introduction program has tested and promoted new and underused ornamental species for cold hardiness zones that range from zones 4 to 8. (Most of West Virginia is zone 6, except for the eastern mountains, which are zone 5.)
Linda Pinkham, a professional gardener in Smithfield, Va., helps select nominations for the program, and grows many of them for her own personal perspective.
If you think yellow plants look weak and unhealthy in a garden, Pinkham thinks differently, based on years of professional experience.
"Yellow is the happiest color, the one that advances the most toward the eye, the one that can be a unifying addition to a mix of plants," she says.
"Plants in gold and yellow have to be placed wisely -- not lined up in rows or symmetrical patterns, but dispersed throughout the garden to make it 'pop.'
"My husband, Bill the landscape designer, had trouble convincing clients to let him add yellow plants to the site. I kept telling him he had to say 'chartreuse' instead of yellow. All good flower arrangers know that no matter what colors you use in an arrangement, using a little, or a lot, of chartreuse will make it 'sing.'"
Les Parks, curator of herbaceous plants at Norfolk Botanical Garden, is also partial to bright, bold foliage.
"Used in the garden, gold or chartreuse has a real way of bringing in light, particularly in shady situations," he says. "The colors also mix well with burgundy, purples and black."
Here's a close look at this year's selections: