I hadn’t registered the kerria until we went to see the bluebells at Te Popo Gardens and there, lo and behold, it was impossible to ignore. The double form looked somewhat like a bright gold, thornless banksia rose. I wasn’t quite so keen on the single form which is a bit like a giant buttercup flower but others may like the simplicity. On a gloomy early spring morning, the kerria were like rays of gold.
This is a deciduous, clumping Chinese shrub which will spread by putting out suckers. It flowers just at the point when the leaves start to emerge. It is not a plant with strong form or shape, being more a thicket of arching canes. When not flowering, it is one of those anonymous plants that does nothing to attract attention to itself. It benefits from being pruned (thinned, really) once a year because the flowers come on the newest canes. Treat it like a raspberry, in other words.
The real boon is that kerrias are not fussy and they will grow and flower in shade – full shade, even. It is no surprise that the Japanese have always liked them. An arching spray of golden flowers is a wonderful statement of both simplicity and cheer.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.