It’s tough to wax poetic about a plant that thrives in roadside ditches. Tansy, or, to give its full name, Tanacetum vulgare, is one of those herbaceous perennials that gardeners admire for one season, then note to their distress that the plant is spreading everywhere and so pull out by the roots thereafter. Tansy grows easily in average, dry-to-medium, well-drained soil. It also grows easily in rich, moist soil. It grows in sun and it hangs on in full shade. Nurserymen call such a plant ‘versatile’. Homeowners often have less kind words.
But then there’s Tanacetum ‘Isla Gold’, several good-sized mounds of which can be found in the Bressingham Stroll Garden. Astute gardeners see ‘Isla’ in a plant’s name and assume that the cultivar originates at the now defunct (and mourned) Isla Nursery in Cambridgeshire, England. Isla Gold did, indeed, originate there. If your average, roadside tansy is to be tolerated as a fill-in before something better comes along, Isla Gold is twenty-four karat enjoyment.
The pleasure starts with the foliage – finely cut, fern-like, pinnate leaves which are bright gold. The enjoyment continues with the compact habit. Isla Gold gets to be a dense mound, one to two feet in height. Don’t over-water the plant and it will behave – no surprise clumps among some other, favored perennial. The coup de grace comes in July and August when Isla Gold produces a profusion of button-like yellow flowers.
What other tansy could produce this comment? “The foliage fairly glows,” writes a blogger. “It's the last thing I can see in my garden before the sun sets. Gorgeous as a backdrop for showier flowers in home-picked bouquets…This is definitely one of the plants I could not live without. Its beauty takes my breath away in my garden almost every single day.”
Hardy to Zone 4 and so very comfortable in eastern Massachusetts, ‘Isla Gold’ is a true treasure.