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Alyssum Gold Dust – syn. Aurinia saxatilis ‘Gold Dust’

There can be few plants which are as fail-proof as the ever-popular Gold Dust Alyssum. Whereas I would not go as far as to suggest that you give up gardening if you cannot grow this little gem, you should certainly need to take a very close look at the environment in which you are trying to establish it.

Alyssum Gold Dust is a plant which will repay you handsomely simply by neglecting it. Plant it in a sunny spot and forget it.

It’s a little annoying to find that the botanists have decided to re-classify it and it now hails under the name of Aurinia saxatilis ‘Gold Dust’. I doubt that you will find it for sale under its new name. But, whichever way you find it, it will be known as the Gold Dust plant for a long time yet.

I have never been one to stand in the way of progress – especially with the slow moving mammoth which is gardening! So, for the rest of this article I will mention it properly as Aurinia saxatilis. Whilst botanical names change from time to time – the descriptive common names are normally with us for life. The Gold Dust common name is certainly apt for this little beauty.

Growing Gold Dust – Aurinia saxatilis

Alyssum - Aurinia saxatilis growing on drystone wallAurinia is a member of the cabbage family – Brassicaceae – but will be found in the ornamental part of the garden rather than the vegetable plot! It is a hardy perennial plant that absolutely adores a sunny spot.

Gold Dust is low growing, so well suited to growing at the front of a border; the edges of a bed; dry, sunny banks or other dry areas; colourful clump in a rock garden or - once established – in a dry stone wall. Gravel paths, and informally paved areas are also its hunting grounds.

Aurinia saxatilis has contrasting foliage, being lime green to silvery leaves, which in themselves are attractive throughout the non-flowering season. Gold dust will flower from early spring though to midsummer but also send out a few flowers later in the year. The plant eventually forms a mound – though rarely any taller than  20cms – 8 in with double that by way of spread.

It will soon establish itself as a self-seeding plant – though not too invasive. A main attraction – other than the vivid gold flowers – is the face that it is low growing, so with rather more options to brighten up tha garden than with taller growing plants. Cheer up the perennial patch or sparkle the front of a shrub border. Just let your imagination take over with just a few restrictions. Aurinia prefers sun and dry root zone. It will not do well in shade or wet areas, though dappled shade will provide a second-best home for it.

There is a variety with lemon yellow coloured flowers rather than gold – Aurinia saxatilis ‘Citrena’. Other than flower colour, it is similar in all respects to Gold Dust.

Propagation of Gold Dust Plants

It will provide you with a good supply of seedlings near to where it is growing. Be aware that as with most cabbage family, they are not the easiest plants to transplant. Transplants should be very firmly planted.

Seed sown in late summer or early autumn, soon germinates. Aurinia are best sown in small container pots when they can be planted as small clusters without too much root disturbance.

They will also be easy to strike as semi-ripe cuttings in later summer – just in case you forget to obtain the seed. Seed is normally available at garden centre displays early in the year.

Problems with Aurinia saxatilis

Greenfly in early summer can be a nuisance – though bearable. The clump of foliage is a good hiding place for slugs, but they seem to use it as a home rather than as a feeding place!

Low growing Perennial; Gold Flowers, spring to summer; attractive clump of ground covering evergreen foliage; suited to the sometimes difficult hot sunny, dry areas of the garden.


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