Berberis ‘Golden Ring’

Japanese Barberry

japanese barberry

This splendid foliage shrub is a specially selected form of the Japanese Barberry, Berberis Thunbergii Fatropurpurea.

It has many variants, each with unique characteristics; these include leaf colour, growth habit, and the ultimate size of the individual shrubs. They are tough, cold hardy shrubs that thrive in harsh climates, and they are prized for their attractive spring, summer and autumn foliage.

The form ‘Golden Ring’ has recently been introduced to our local market and is proving to be popular with gardeners in the colder regions. It grows into a compact, bushy shrub about a metre or so high and with a similar spread. Being deciduous, the shrubs are bare during winter, which reveals the spiny thorns along the length of the branches.

Spring sees the emergence of new foliage; the leaves are 1 to 2 cm long, red in colour and with a conspicuous yellow or lime green margin. The colour is maintained through summer and into autumn, at which time the red coloration intensifies before the foliage sheds. Small, pale yellow flowers are produced along the branches in mid-spring. In summer and autumn the flowers develop into glossy, red fruit that are 8 to 10 mm long.

Japanese Barberry grows best in a sunny position and can tolerate most soil conditions, including rocky or impoverished soils. They will grow in shade but the foliage loses its intense colours, which largely defeats the object of growing the plant. Regular applications of a general garden fertiliser from spring to autumn will ensure optimum performance. The shrubs can be lightly pruned during the growing season to maintain a neat shape. Older plants can be pruned back hard in winter to stimulate vigorous spring growth and prevent them becoming twiggy.

In the garden, use ‘Golden Ring’ as a contrasting coloured and textured shrub. It can be planted as an individual specimen, and used in mass plantings. Strong contrasts are created by combining it with plants that have silver, grey or golden foliage or flowers, whilst those with deep blue, orange and red shades complement the delicacy of its foliage. The leafy stems can be used in floral art.

A number of reliable woody shrubs are making a comeback in the garden fashion stakes. This new variation of a plant that was popular many decades ago is certainly going to become a favourite, especially in the coldest of our climates.

The Gardener