|Dart's Gold Ninebark|
|Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold'|
|James Kohut, Staff Writer|
Four seasons of interest. In the vernacular of the northern landscaper, this should be a mantra that's repeated time and time again, the "holy grail" of the northern gardener, if you will. After all, any plant that can contribute to the otherwise bleak natural winterscape which surrounds us from November through March while playing a starring role in the peak performance seasons of spring, summer and fall, surely deserves our respect and attention.
Dart's Gold ninebark is one such plant that needs to be familiar to all homeowners tending a landscape in the North. Introduced by Dartheuser Nursery in Holland, this amazing discovery sports shocking golden yellow foliage in spring which may fade to a distinctive yellow-chartreuse over summer. It has showy white flowers in early summer which are reminiscent of spirea clusters (it's actually a relative of spirea), and it can boast incredible golden orange fall color if conditions are right.
So where does the winter value come in with this variety? Well, ninebarks have bark which peels off in brown papery strips when mature, exposing a creamy white bark underneath. The effect is quite curious on close inspection, and while not visually overwhelming in the context of the larger landscape, will certainly reward those who choose to take a closer look. The bark of Dart's Gold is no exception, and fully rounds out this four season landscape gem.
Ninebarks are frighteningly easy to grow, almost so much so that they do need some restraint and maintenance over the course of their lives; they tend to look a little shrubby in their halcyon years. They will grow almost anywhere and in any type of soil. They do best in full sun, otherwise they can get gangly, and this particular variety requires a fair amount of sun to hold its golden color throughout the summer. Use Dart's Gold as a color accent in the garden, as a colorful hedge, or in a foundation planting on the south or west side of a house.