Gold dust – Anrinia saxatilis – Typical rock garden plants

Gold dust can last for long periods without food and water, and grows remarkably well in infertile places. With its magnificent golden- yellow flowers, it looks particularly attractive in a rockery.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March-May:

Plant out bought plants. Sow seed into open ground from April onwards. Or, to ensure strong plants, sow in seed-boxes in a cold frame (protective outdoor box).

SUMMER

June-July:

Flowering extends throughout June. Hardly any water or nutrients required. Cut back after flowering and apply one light dose of general fertilizer. This will ensure strong sprouting.

AUTUMN

August-October:

The dense, grey, furry foliage continues to add interest to the garden. After flowering, small seed pods form.

Unless these are removed, gold dust increases by self-seeding.

WINTER

November-February:

Gold dust is winter-hardy. Prevent pests from overwintering by removing any fallen leaves from trees or shrubs that become lodged on the plants.

Set out in flowering posi-tions in September.

Taking cuttings

Take cuttings 7.5cm in established plants in June.

Root the cuttings by pushing into soil in a cold frame.

Pot cuttings up singly once roots have developed. Length from the tips of

Plant out into their final growing positions in March. Gold dust grown from cuttings generally flowers better in its first flowering season than plants of the same age grown from seed.

WINNING COMBINATION

Gold dust looks enchanting with perennial candytuft and wallflower as an edging for beds, flights of steps and garden paths. Gold dust is also effective as ground cover in rose and tulip beds, quickly covering the bare earth with foliage.

Its tolerance of poor soil makes it a good plant for hanging baskets and window boxes.

G old dust belongs to the cruciferous plant family, which also includes wallflower, candytuft and stock. It forms thick ‘cushions’ 20-30cm tall.

Gold dust has thick shoots with rosettes of leaves. These are covered with silvery-grey ‘fur’, which keeps the plant looking attractive even after it has finished flowering. Once established, this evergreen shrubby perennial can grow in the same place for years. If it is not cut back, it spreads into thick bushes covering half a square metre or more.

Ideal position

Gold dust thrives under almost all conditions, but is at its best somewhere sunny, warm and dry. The best soil is loose-packed, chalky or sandy with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. However, gold dust grows in almost any soil as long as it is not waterlogged, and does quite well in partial shade.

Correct feeding

Avoid applying too much fertilizer to gold dust, as this causes the plant to grow too quickly. When this happens it produces a poor display of flowers. Gold dust is an excellent choice for poor, dry soils.

Planting and care

Plant out seedlings in September, and rooted cuttings in March.

Shortly after the flowers fade, cut the plant back to half its original height, and give it a single, light dose of general fertilizer. Cutting back helps control the shape of plants, stops them self-seeding and also thickens and stimulates new growth.

Growing from seed

Sow in planting boxes in a cold frame (protective outdoor box) in March.

Prick out (transfer) seedlings to individual 7.5cm pots in April-May.

IMPORTANT

Avoid delay in setting out seedlings in their final positions. Transplanting gold dust once it has developed its strong tap root is virtually impossible, as is attempting to propagate the plant by dividing the roots.

POPULAR VARIETIES

Name, Colour, Description var. cilriiia, light yellow, striking colours ‘Compacta’, yellow, short variety, grows to 20cm ‘Dudley Nevill Variegated’, yellow, variegated leaves with creamy yellow edges ‘Flore Pleno’, yellow, dense double blooms ‘Goldkugel’ (’Gold Ball’), yellow, short variety, grows to 15cm

Gold dust

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SITUATION

Sunny and warm. In the rockery, on rocky slopes or on dry walls. In combination with other plants as edging or ground cover.

SOIL

Dry, sandy soil with rough stones. The soil should be chalky and not too nutritious. Gold dust prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, but does quite well on acid soils.

CARE

Needs very little moisture or fertilizer. After flowering, cut the plant back and give a single light application of general fertilizer.

PLANT HEALTH

Gold dust is not usually prone to disease, but it may suffer an attack from the flea beetle. This is a pest that can affect the plant at any time from germination onwards. These tiny blue or blue-and- yellow striped jumping beetles eat holes in the leaves and weaken the growth.

They tend to appear more when the soil is dry. Control them by keeping the soil moist at the seedling and young plant stage, and by applying insecticide dust to the leaves.

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