Duranta erecta

Duranta Sheenas Gold with Iresine herbstii Aureoreticulata in the garden of Carolyn Hughes in Sydney

Duranta erecta 'Sheena's Gold' (syn. Duranta repens 'Sheena's Gold') is an excellent, easy-to-grow, densely foliaged cultivar of this shrub for our climate, reaching a height of 3m, although it can be kept shorter by pruning in late winter, and can be clipped into formal shapes or a hedge. It could also be trained into a small tree with a single trunk, if desired. The pendulous flowers are mauve, but its main attraction is its beautiful gold-coloured leaves. In a shady site, the leaves take on a wonderful lime colour, and the shrub will still grow quite well in this position. It can cope with very ordinary soils.

Berries of Duranta Sheenas Gold

Orange berries which may sometimes develop after flowering are said to be poisonous. 'Sheena's Gold' forms an effective partner to blue or purple flowers (such as Salvia), or with variegated yellow/green foliage plants (such as the Iresine cultivar shown in the top photo); or it can echo the hue of yellow flowers from plants grown nearby. It hails from areas in Central and Southern America.

Another cultivar is 'Sheena's Lime Glow', which has similar growth habit but lime-coloured leaves. I also have an unusual cultivar with green leaves splashed with white - I don't know of its cultivar name but it grows to 2 or 3 m in height.

Flowers in March.