Color in the Garden-GBDW Part Two

It has been mentioned here previously that a new bed we will refer to as the black garden was begun last summer. The area was first planted with a group of lavendula ‘Provence’, to mimic the gardens of the wine country in Sonoma, California. The vision was of neatly clipped silvery balls, with an underplanting of purple ajuga reptans. Things did not pan out for that vision, half the lavender died and the wild violets took over the ajuga. My neighbor had taken some cuttings, of his purple leaf peach tree and kindly shared them with several of us down the street, thanks Mae and Mickey! it seemed a good start for a black themed garden. The lavender is being removed and not replaced as it goes to the lavender field in the sky and the violets have been violently dug up. That was a job and a half. Vigilence is still needed for weeds trying to take advantage of the bare earth. Shown above are the peach tree with some of his friends, perilla frutescens, eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ and sedum ‘Black Jack’.
This planting on the front porch of coleus, solenostemon scutellarioides, ‘Black Heart’ , japanese painted fern, anthyrium niponicum, and variegated ivy with a splash of orange impatiens shows how dark and light complement each other.

Nearly the same color as the mulch, this loropetalum ‘Purple Diamond’, will highlight the yellow daffodils sprouting up on either side.

Several daylilies have a dark tint. This is hemerocallis ‘Soot Storm’. Thanks again to Mae and Mickey for their generous gift of pieces of their extensive collection when the Faire Garden daylily hill was first planted.

This black columbine would disappear without the pink dianthus to set off its purple blackness. Started from seed, it is aquilegia ‘Barlow Black’,with smallish double flowers on tall stems. Dianthus ‘Bath’s Pink’ and D. Firewitch in the background.

A big success this year colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ grew so tall it had to be cut back mid summer. It was providing too much shade for the water lilies to bloom in the pond.

As a container planting a few years ago, black millet was started from seed and produced these lovely seed heads. Subsequent tries to duplicate that look have failed, even buying ready to plant pots. These grasses have given much joy inside on a shelf too high for the kitties to take a bite.

Pepper ‘Black Pearl’ has proven true to seed saved from the mother plant bought two years ago. The leaves start out greeny then turn to black, the fruit starts out purple and matures a brilliant red. Salvia coccinea and swiss chard ‘bright lights’ make good bed mates.

Living up to the hype, frittilaria persicaria produced gorgeous dark bell shaped flowers on a strong stalk, no staking needed. Only one was planted last year, a gift, thanks semi, to see how it performed before the expenditure was made for more. Five more were added this fall in the same area. That should be a real vision of black bells.

Also a gift, thanks again semi, sedum ‘Black Jack’ is an excellent addition to the themed bed. As it grows, it can be divided and spread throughout. Sedums are planted throughout all the garden, such indestructable stalwarts are they.

A look at Forest Pansy redbud, cercis canadensis, ‘Forest Pansy’, number two. It lasted one year then never leafed out again. The seed poppies and blue iris bring out the beauty of the dark leaves. Ferngully is even still alive here, happier times for tree health was this year.

Looking around the house for favorite black items, my beloved sewing machine, singerus sewingus,’Black Beauty’. Bought second hand by my father, this was a birthday present as I turned ten years old. It is still running like a champ, just a couple of tune ups at the local Sew ‘n Vac shops along the way. Just a little of the gold enamel decorative edging where one’s hand rests has been worn away in the front. This will be passed on to whoever is interested when this gardener can no longer use it. Keep checking back for the continuing saga of the color black in the garden.


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12 Responses to Color in the Garden-GBDW Part Two

  1. Laurie says:

    Singerus sewingus….love it!

  2. kate says:


    Your black-flower collection is quite something! You have such a variety too. The Elephant Ears are stunning.

    I’m enjoying this series of posts!

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    My goodness Frances, your black collection is lovely and so varied. You have some black things I have never seen. Like the black columbine. Wow.

    I hope you don’t have to get violent in the garden often. I bet those pesky violets will think twice about reappearing next time. 😉

  4. Frances says:

    Laurie…Thanks. Glad you like sewing garden humor.

    kate…Thanks. Those elephant ears were magnificent. Hope they return next year, they were left in the pond to winter over with the pump running to keep the water from freezing.

    Lisa…It seems that black has been collected here without me even realizing it until assembling these posts. Violets get violence around here. ;->

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    More dramatic dark foliage to enjoy in your garden. Hey, have you ever shown us your pond? I didn’t know you had one.

  6. Carol says:

    Frances, I like the violets in my garden, but they aren’t too invasive, SO FAR.

    I also have the black columbine. It’s a big contrast to the usual bright flowers of spring.

    Looking forward, by the way, to meeting you at the spring fling!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  7. Frances says:

    Pam…thanks. The story of the pond is quite a saga. I am still mulling over its presentation to the blog. It will be unveiled at a later date. ;->

    Carol…likewise about meeting you also! The black columbine against the field of pink dianthus is one those accidental strokes of genius.

  8. jodi says:

    I too am enjoying these posts; I’m queuing up a couple myself on colour, but this morning am dedicating my eyeballs to catching my reading up a wee bit. I have some of these plants, but others just would go to sleep here…had the Frit. persica one year, but then it decided not to return. Too bad, because it’s unlike anything else, isn’t it?

  9. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    While I’m not crazy about the Barlow series of Aquilegia, I would seriously consider trading my firstborn for ‘Golden Barlow,’ a plant with flowers like yours but chartruese foliage. The flowers of that plant need no help from surrounding plants to stand out. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a source of this plant.

  10. Frances says:

    Jodi, thanks for taking time to stop by and comment. I can’t wait to see your color groups. I don’t know that the fritt will return, last year was its first, and the gamble of buying more may have been unwise. Drainage is the key word with that one it has been said.

    MMD…I will keep an eye out for the Golden Barlow and let you know if it is found. It sounds gorgeous.

  11. brokenbeat says:

    that sedum, black jack, is awesome. next visit to faire garden will be an opportunity to perpetuate my sedum cleptomania. hope that’s okay.

  12. Frances says:

    brokenbeat…as long as you limit your take to no more than one tenth of the total plant! It is still small, new last year, but you are welcome to a piece, it will grow.

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