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Golden Ash a Star

This article was first published on 30 Mar 2016.

Golden Ash, Fraxinus excelsior 'Aurea'

Golden Ash, Fraxinus excelsior 'Aurea'

Autumn at Dunedin Botanic Garden provides visitors with stunning autumn colour and foliage.  For staff, there’s the added bonus of lots of leaves for the compost heap.

Planted on the lawn near the herbaceous borders is a feature that gets regular comments from passing members along the lines of, “Wow, look at the autumn colour on that tree”.  The tree they are referring to is the stunning golden ash, Fraxinus excelsior 'Aurea'.

To allow the golden tree to mature to its full potential, a large garden or park-like setting is most suitable.  A fantastic tree, rounded in shape, it is almost as wide as it is tall, at over 7 metres.  

One of best trees for autumn colour, it also provides us with year-round interest.  During summer it is very popular with people, providing welcome shade.  In winter its structure is a highlight, with distinctive yellow bark on the young branches and black winter buds. 

It has a naturally short leaf life.  In spring, it is one of the last trees to unfurl new leaves, then in autumn, one of the first to lose them, turning a brilliant gold. The pinnate leaves are pale yellow or pale green through spring and summer and then turn a brilliant gold in autumn. 

This graceful giant prefers a fertile moist well drained soil, a sunny location but is still fully hardy. 

Linda Hellyer is curator of the herbaceous borders at Dunedin Botanic Garden.