New garden shop opening
New plants – where do they come from? Part One

Yellow loosestrife

Lysimachiapunctata500 Driving up in the southern Catskills, in New York State, again the other day, I spotted a plant I’d seen naturalised in England - yellow loosestrife, Lysimachia punctata. The solitary clump looked very striking and so bright that it caught my attention from its glade in the woods as I flashed by in the car.

This native of eastern Europe, widely naturalized in the rest of Europe, is also known from most of the northern American states but is not listed as especially harmful anywhere. It makes a striking and easy garden plant for wet places, though it can be over vigorous – says he, trying not to say it can be a brute when it gets going. But there are also newer, more attractive forms.

Lysimachiaalexander In recent years, the colored foliage forms have taken all the attention. The first was ‘Alexander’, a creamy white variegated form found by Pauline Alexander of Monksilver Nursery in Cambridgeshire, England. This is even more dramatic, and also much less vigorous, but it does occasionally revert to all-green and sometimes the foliage can be distorted. The young spring growth is often dramatically pink-tinged.

Next came Golden Alexander (‘Walgoldalex’), found as a sport on ‘Alexander’ in 1999 by famed British plant breeder David Tristram on his Walberton Nursery in Sussex. The marginal variegation is more yellow than cream, sometimes bright yellow, and the plant is a little shorter and the leaves never distorted.Lysimachiagoldenalexander

Other names for variegated lysimachias which are sometimes seen include ‘Golden Glory’, which looks much the same as ‘Golden Alexander’ to me and was found at Cotswold Garden Flowers in Worcestershire, England and ‘Ivy MacLean’ which also looks similar. There’s also ‘Gauthier Brousse’, with brown-flushed young foliage.

These are all well worth growing but the sparkle of sunshine in that roadside glade reminded me what a colorful plant the pure species is – even though it can be a bit of a thug.