To most kiwis, the word rata is synonymous with forest giants, but there are some garden forms of these Metrosideros which are compact shrubs, easily accommodated even in small, town gardens. They can also be grown in containers, providing an intriguing hint of wild native forests on the most civilised of doorsteps.
Metrosideros ‘Gold’ is one of these exciting new ratas. It will reach a metre high and wide when fully grown, but takes a few years to attain these dimensions. It’s evergreen, with small, shiny, decorative foliage of a fresh, lime green shade. It would be worth growing for the foliage alone, but there’s also the bonus of a pretty display of golden flowers which occur from late summer to early winter.
For contrast plantings, try combining Metrosideros ‘Gold’ with the very handsome Loropetalum ‘China Pink’ which has burgundy coloured foliage, with hints of pink to the new leaves. It grows in a spreading, tiered style and has pretty little pink flowers in spring. Add some other compact shrubs for a pleasing, low maintenance garden such as the small growing, rounded, Pittosporum varieties ‘Midget’ and ‘Golfball’ and the new Coprosma ‘Autumn Haze’.
Metrosideros ‘Gold’ is also a striking companion for Metrosideros ‘Tahiti’ which is a much loved small shrub, smothered with crimson flowers for long periods in autumn and spring.
The ability of Metrosideros ‘Gold’ to respond to light trimming means it can be grown as an informal hedge. Try it this way beside a path or steps, or to define the edge of a border.
Or plant it at regular intervals beside a path, with low, dense growing plants in between such as the dramatic succulent Echeveria ‘Black Knight’.
It also looks superb when grown as a contrast shrub among low growing ground cover plants such as Ajuga ‘Catlin’s Giant’, which makes dense weed smothering growth, has attractive bronze green foliage and, in spring, spires of sky blue flowers.