Pseudopanax lessonii “Gold Splash” like to live in mild and moist conditions and is salt tolerant. Well moist we certainly are, so far this year it has been relatively mild and the sea will continue to be blown on the wind into the garden. So this sounds like a match made in heaven, ideally suited to its home in Devon. It is endemic to New Zealand, the Maori name being Houpara. Gold Splash is a natural cultivar which was found in a garden on North Island in 1969 as a sport on the stump of a Pseudopanex lessonii. A sport, botanically speaking, is when a section of a plant, it could be a branch or stem perhaps, changes significantly. This could be a variation in leaf colour or form, flower colour or form or other morphological changes. They are caused by a genetic mutation and the transformed part can be removed and propagated vegetatively to produce new plants. These sports are prone to reversion, or changing back to the form of the parent plant, these reversions are often more vigorous and should be removed before they swamp the cultivar. A bit like the Incredible Hulk or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but without the fighting, and more attractive.
This mutant has gold, lime and dark green evergreen leaves which are arranged in either 3’s or 5’s. Last year this plant was severely pruned by the deer and this has served to produce a more bushy plant and will encourage it to become a shrub rather than a tree. If you do not have any deer you can use secateurs. This year they just didn’t fancy it at all, they must have been pleased with their work. Pseudopanax are in the Araliaceae family, the same as Hedera (ivy) and Fatsia, and have tiny greenish flowers in terminal umbels. It is the striking foliage that makes Gold Splash garden worthy and because of this I would say it is a jolly good sport, and so say all of us, ha ha!