Chocolate

Justin W. Hancock

Everything Goes with Black

Written on May 26, 2010 at 7:31 am , by

Last November I wrote a blog post on starting a chocolate garden because I thought it was a fun topic, and quite frankly, I was craving chocolate (and didn’t have enough change on me to make a trip to the vending machine for a candy bar). Thinking about plants like the ‘Dark Chocolate’ coleus helped get me through…

It turns out I may have been ahead of the curve a little on a trend: black plants. Plants with dark foliage or flowers certainly aren’t new, but just last year publisher Timber Press released a book on the subject. And next year, our friends at Ball Horticultural are releasing a petunia called ‘Black Velvet’, the world’s first black petunia, as well as a black-and-cream sister variety called ‘Phantom’.

And this year in front of BHG headquarters, BHG Test Garden Manager Sandra Gerdes is planting a black border — full of richly hued plants such as Mystic Dreamer dahlia, ‘Purple Majesty’ ornamental millet, Illusion Midnight Lace sweet potato vine, and a host of others.

Why are dark foliage and flowers becoming so sought after? One reason, I think, is that it’s easy to use in the garden. Rich dark blackish-purples and reds pretty much go with every color (I’m especially fond of mixing them with sky blue) and look great as long as you don’t plant them in the shade where they tend to disappear in the dim light. Plus, I think there’s something intriguing about them — it’s a refreshing change from bold and bright reds, oranges, and yellows.

Watch for updates on our black border here on The Everyday Gardeners — and let me know by commenting below what you think of black plants and if you plan to grow any in your garden this year!


Justin W. Hancock

Start a Chocolate Garden

Written on November 11, 2009 at 7:13 am , by

Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate Cosmos

My friends know me to have two big weaknesses: plants and chocolate. So it’s only natural that I’m intrigued at combining the two.

And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that way, given the number of plants that have chocolate in their name, including ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga, ‘Summer Chocolate’ mimosa, ‘Chocolate Soldier’ columbine, ‘Milk Chocolate’ foxglove, and ‘Hot Chocolate’ rose. As you might guess, these plants all feature rich, purple or brown foliage or flowers. (Garden design hint: These plants typically look extra gorgeous when paired with light blue flowers such as lead plant, flax, bachelor’s button, or blue lobelia.)

If color alone doesn’t suit your chocolate cravings, try chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) and chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata) — both of which actually smell of chocolate.

And top your chocolate garden off with cocoa hull mulch. This fine-textured mulch really does smell of rich, wonderful cocoa as it helps the soil hold moisture and keeps back weeds. (One note: Cocoa hull mulch is poisonous to dogs should they decide to eat it.)