Friday, July 9, 2010

Basic Black

Black goes with everything,
even in the garden.

I have been in love with black plants for years and more and more people are discovering the beauty of black plants. If you're interested there's a great book called "Black Plants" by Paul Bonine and available through Timber Press. It lists 75 different black plants but my guess more and more are being discovered and hybridized all the time. A lot of "black" plants are really either deep purple or deep maroon but are considered black.

One of the earliest blooming black plants is "Black Accord" Pansy...pair it with some orange pansies and be prepared to be dazzled.

"Queen of the Night" tulip is a late bloomer with large velvety, deep-black-maroon flowers.

One of my great regrets is a couple years ago not picking this black Siberian Iris up at the White Flower Farm in Litchfield, CT one cold and rainy spring day because when I went back, it was gone and I have yet to find it again.

 Another beautiful Iris, this one a Bearded Iris called "Superstition" is certainly on my list of "must haves".

I spotted this Aeonium "Zwartkop" at Great Dixter in England...stunning paired with yellow. This is a succulent and the more sun it gets, the blacker it will be.

I grew these mini Calla Lilies several years ago, this one called "Black Forest" also known as "Schwartzwalder" and was amazed how long the bloom lasted, even after it was cut and placed in a vase.

Colocasia "Black Magic" or Elephant Ears is a must in my garden every year. It thrives on water, great both in containers or in the ground and the size can become 5-6 feet high with two foot ears. Here in the east it's considered an annual for zones 4-6.

A spectacular bloom for mid-summer is "Black Nigra" my present house sun is at a premium so I haven't grown it in a while because it really does need full sun to thrive.

These ornamental Pepper plants are courtesy of a friend's garden...perfect for containers, the fruit changes from black to red as the plant matures. 

Probably one of my favorite plants is Black Mondo Grass, a dramatic ground cover which spreads by underground is evergreen, or is that everblack and deer-proof. I have found them slow growers but well worth the wait. Paired next to any bright-colored plant, especially yellow and you've got a show stopper. The first time I saw this plant was at the Chelsea Flower Show in London years ago...the display was a large bed of them and nestled in the middle were bright turquoise bowling balls...I've never forgotten it.

I don't know if this is considered a black plant, especially since it's called Purple Fountain Grass but if you ask me, it qualifies. I love it in container never fails to impress. It is considered an annual here in the east.

Another plant that probably doesn't qualify as black, though when I used to grow it, the green was so deep it certainly looked black is a Castor Bean plant and it is considered one of the most poisonous plants you can grow. If an adult should eat one or maybe two of the seeds, there's a good chance they will die. Because of that and because I wouldn't risk that around my dogs, I no longer grow it. It's a shame too because it's spectacular, especially it's red fruit.

And how can any list of black plants not include the very popular "Black Heart" Ipomoea Batatas or better known as a Potato plant. It's a very vigorous trailing plant and looks stunning pair with the yellow potato vine.

Of course my favorite "black" in the garden are my border collies, Max and Nemo.

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