A Heart of Darkness…
Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’, available online at, (and image via): Â White Flower Farm
Some gardeners adore bright colors, and other plant collectors crave pastels. There are those who prefer dramatic plants painted silver and gold and a few indecisive types who seek out green tonal shifts and mottled white variegation. These hues are all quite lovely, and they occasionally catch my eye, but I fully admit that I have more shadowy desires. The truth is that deep within me, hidden from the light of day, beats a heart of pure darkness – I confess that I have a passion for black plants. Rich, dark purple and velvety red; bitter chocolate and silky maroon; ruby wine and exotic ebony: these are the colors I covet. And wouldn’t you agree that on a hot summer day, it’s easy to be seduced by a mysterious garden filled with shadows?
I love the cool, quiet of my shady, Secret Garden -Â but even in full sun, I like to paint shadows with dark foliage and black plants. While stunning on their own, when used in artful combination, these raven-hued beauties of the plant world can make the other flowers and foliage in a garden truly sing. Beside maroon and deep purple, sky blue blossoms sparkle, and when paired with orange and yellow, wine toned foliage is a bold and dramatic choice. Variegated plants, as well as the dusty, marbled whites and soft silver tones, all appear more striking when positioned beside darker colors. Imagine ghostly white ferns floating in a sea of dark foliage, or icy silver-tipped ivy winding about the base of black snake root, (Cimicifugia/Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ or ‘Brunette’). Dark beauty shyly beckons in the shade…
As for the dark blossoms – oh my, but how I’ve fallen; hopelessly deep, and madly in love, with all of their seductive charms. Ruby red, tipping toward blackness, the deep colored dahlias delight me, and the ink-stained petals of iris can drive me truly wild. But pair the velvety allure of maroon roses with a subtle, spicy fragrance, and I will begin to truly swoon. Yes, I know it is an obsession – but you must know my passion for plants by now. I simply can not help it. In fact , as some of you may recall,Â I have revealed my personal weakness for dark flowers, when I wrote about the mysterious Black Panther Streptocarpus last summer, (pictured above). So, come along with me, won’t you ? Let’s wander away on a tour of the dark-blossoming underworld. Others may only be charmed by bold birds-of-paradise or delicate little, fluttering flowers. As for me, I will always prefer the slightly sinister beauties, like the dark temptress Odile, a shadow drifting silently across Swan Lake…
Ipomoea ‘Sweet Heart Purple’,(image via): White Flower Farm
Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’, available online at, (and image via):White Flower Farm
Colocasia esculenta ‘Black magic’,Â (image/avail. via):Â White Flower Farm
Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, available online at, (and image via):Â White Flower Farm
Angelica gigas, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm
Sambucus ‘Black Lace’, available online at, (and image via):Â White Flower Farm
Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita bright red’, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm
Begonia Rex ‘Fireworks’, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm
Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’, available online at (and photo via): White Flower Farm
Iris chrysographes, available online at (and image via):Â Wayside Gardens
Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’ (Black Mondo Grass), available online at: (and image via)Â Wayside Gardens
Odile, the black swan, as portrayed by Julie Kent. Photo by Roy Rounds via Thought Patterns.
For further exploring the shadowy side of your gardening personality, I recommend both of these dark, delicious titles…
Karen Platt’s Black Magic and Purple Passion
Paul Bonine’s Black Plants
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