In The Garden Now…..Golden Angel

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Golden Angel Japanese Shrub Mint 

Text and photo by Victoria Gilleland

I first saw this plant last fall in a local nursery. It was late in the year and ‘Golden Angel’ was on the 50% off table. I couldn’t help but be attracted to the angelic name. It was the only plant of its kind there and the only one on the ‘Discount Table’ that liked shade. Besides that, the tag said it would have golden foliage throughout summer and yellow bottlebrush flowers in early fall. What’s not to like? Of course I had to buy it!

Besides the wonderful attributes above, the plant would stay small at about 3’ H x 3’ W and was hardy down to zone 5 which is -20 to -10 degrees F. It wasn’t a marginal plant that would die in one of our colder winters which turned out to be a good thing considering the low temperatures we had this past winter…. Remember February 2019?

This plant is a clump forming relative of mint. It is not wildly aggressive like some mints although it may send up a few runners. Bees and other pollinators are attracted to the late season bloom. That’s always a good thing.

By the first of April our ‘Golden Angel’ was showing signs of life. It had made it through winter. Bright golden foliage began to peak through the moist earth! The plant really took off once the temperatures warmed later in the month and into May. And then there was a bit of a catastrophe…..

Our 12 year old Chocolate Lab, Bear, loves to play Tennis Ball. His Dog Court is near the bed where our ‘Golden Angel’ took up residence. In late spring, during one of his more active moments, Bear chased after a ball and ended up plopping down right on top of our treasured perennial acquisition, flattening it.

He eventually moved allowing me to clear away the crushed and broken stems. I propped up the remaining plant as best I could and discussed the situation with Bear. He smiled and said he’d be more careful next time. There haven’t been any further incursions so we believe him!

In spite of a run-in with our favorite dog, flower buds developed over the summer and are just now starting to open as lovely yellow and white bottle brush flowers. I’m delighted to report that this plant is growing just as they said it would and is now about 2’ tall and wide with flowers a bit taller. It’s a most interesting perennial.

‘Golden Angel Shrub Mint’ is a keeper and well worth adding to the shade garden. The bright foliage and the fact that it’s in full bloom in early fall when other plants are on their way to dormancy is a real bonus. This one’s worth a try in your garden!

(Leucosceptrum Japonicum Golden Angel)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design Company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years. (


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