Color in the Garden-GBDW Part Three

One of the nicest and bestest birthday gifts from my better half was this iron pineapple sculpture purchased during our three year stay in Texas, in a suburb half an hour north of Houston. The garden purchasing choices in that area were a shopaholic’s nirvana. Exquisite plants, pots and potions were readily available from multiple sites, each more fun than the next. Expeditions into Houston were frequent although the driving side of those trips were stomach churning, not for the faint of braking ability. At a favorite haunt in town, while on another pleasant foray of plants and lunch, my dear friend Ulana and I went to a native plant shop, Another Place In Time. Right at the entryway was this outrageous black metal pineapple covered in purple velvet species petunias. Jokingly the remark was made that this would be the perfect birthday present, then peering at the price tag, oops, no way, too expensive, never mind. The birthday arrived, we had a friend staying with us who was video taping the garden to show his wife back home and I was giving the official tour. A wonderful stone planter was on the patio, one that had been admired while on a look see trip onto town with MBH. Gushing happily with gratitude for the lovely container on camera, the tour continued. We covered the perimeter of the small garden, and entered the jungle in the middle, the grotto it was called. Standing proudly was the pineapple, blending beautifully with the white azaleas, R. Mrs G. G. Gebring. Tears were flowing, totally surprised, caught on tape, a moment of extreme happiness! Ulana, you are a jewel. This is a large awkward piece and the welds could not hold during the move from Tx to Tn, it is held together with rebar driven into the ground , but this bit of black in the garden is prized above all others.
Blue iris, blue baptisia and a sprig of pink dianthus complete the scene above.

Whew, after that drawn out description, the rest of this series of black in the garden will seem ho hum. But they are still lovely as well. This tulipa ‘Jackpot’, thanks again semi, with the ajuga blooming blue beside adds springtime joy to the new black area.

The Forest Pansy replacement number two, red leaf birch, betula ‘Crimson Frost’ has grown slowly but steadily. One of several purchases from the nursery shop at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC when we had season passes and stopped by to check out the latest plants for sale every week as we attended the soccer games of one brokenbeat for four years of college ball. The offerings at this shop were unusual and reasonably priced.

It does seem that many of the black plants were gifts and this is no exception. Paphiopedalum (Starr Warr x Maudiae) ‘Pisgah’ x Paph. Dark Spell ‘ Wolf Lake’, is the blackest orchid I have ever seen. An amazing orchid show at the West Town Mall in Knoxville of all places last April was the source for this beauty. 2008 will see us there to look for bargains as well. It is sitting on the wall with the happy accidental background of black columbine and dark leaved penstemon’ Husker Red.

This Japanese tree peony, paeonia suffruticosa ‘Hatsugarasu’, is a luscious dark wine red. Last summer was it’s first blooming year but it is feared the drought may have prevented new buds from forming to give us color in 2008. If it is even alive. That will be a sad and costly loss if it turns out not to be.

Strong and stout, this daylily, hemerocallis ‘Matthew Martin’ from another local daylily farm, Sunshine Hollow, has very thick petals with a slight ruffled edge.

A baby hellebore seedling blooming for the first time is the darkest of the existing volunteers from big mama. The freckles are a bonus. It is hoped the new Chiltern seed packets of black/slate/purple hellebores will give us more and darker specimens.

Another Biltmore purchase, this very dark leaved azalea, R. ‘Thunder’ keeps its dark foliage all year, not just in the cold, like some of the other azaleas.

Although the azaleas are on the do not replace list after last year’s performances and deaths, this R. ‘Midnight Wine’ had one good bloom season.

Started by seed last fall, this is one of the only Redbor kale plants planted directly into the baggie garden that were not eaten by the resident rabbits. Others in containers got the chickenwire coverings and are small but safe and will be planted in the veggie garden soon. They will be useful in making a design statement with that dark color contrasting the pale greens of the lettuce and darker hue of the spinach recently sown in the sunroom/greenhouse.

Growing on the shed, once blooming, rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ qualifies as a purple flower for these purposes.

In a fit of all black all the time, this black leather sofa was purchased before the renovation was completed for the main house. It sits and sleeps like a pillow, the cat hair of miss Hazel does not stick to it, and body oil over time cannot darken it.

Looking at the above shot, the housekeeping abilities at Faire Garden are evident. Well it’s not Faire Household, is it?

p.s. Only one more post in this series for those of you tiring of the monotonous subject matter, so have heart for more variety in the future stories.


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15 Responses to Color in the Garden-GBDW Part Three

  1. brokenbeat says:

    a cutting from the party time that mashley got from the biltmore is alive and well in the new indoor greenhouse we made. anxiously awaiting number four.

  2. Frances says:

    brokenbeat…Your new indoor greenhouse sounds like it is a great success. I thought you would make a comment about your mention above.

  3. Gardener of La Mancha says:

    Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and the realization that there are so many black plants out there! They are so rich, beautiful, and bizarre. I especially like that black elephant ear emerging from bright greens of the water lilies. It’s mythical. Are the water lily blooms white?

  4. Frances says:

    Gardener of La Mancha…welcome and thanks. The water lily blooms are yellow, a photo can be seen in the sidebar. I do hope the elephant ears will overwinter, if not they will be replaced, they were a good addition to the pond.

  5. karen says:

    I love the pineapple sculpture! I have too many white and gray solid objects in my garden. I must keep an eye out for black.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, you BH is not only generous he is a romantic. What a wonderful story.

    I am loving all your color posts.

  7. Frances says:

    Karen…Yes, it is love here as well. Maybe you could paint some of your white and gray objects black?

    Lisa…Yes, he is a keeper. Thanks.

  8. Chickenpoet says:

    I doubt that anyone could tire from the beauty and mystique of black flowers. Especially through the eyes of a lifetime gardener.

  9. Frances says:

    chickenpoet…thanks. The last post is up on this topic. It’s voice is hoarse and needs a

  10. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    That Azalea is a knockout! Too bad they don’t grow well here. I hope your tree peony survives. It is lovely & tree peony seem to take a long time to mature.

  11. Frances says:

    MMD…thanks. It is hoped that some good photos of the azaleas can be posted this spring. There were two of those tree peonies, one has buds showing, the one pictured has none, but could still be alive. We shall see.

  12. Annie in Austin says:

    What a beautiful post, Frances – that black-and-purple-drenched scene in the top photo makes me envious…oops- that shade of green might be too pale for your black garden ;-]

    This series has been fascinating – and even though most of these lovely plants might not survive here, there must be some in the color range that would grow in Austin…dwarf black ophiopogon has stayed alive, so maybe the tall one would, too?

    I sure hope that stunning tree peony makes it.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. Frances says:

    Annie…Thanks. The black mondo here is the dwarf, I believe. The dark daylilies should grow there as well. The sedum blackjack, how about that one, or salvia ‘black and blue’, I didn’t have a good photo of that but salvias love your heat.

  14. Annie in Austin says:

    Thanks, Frances – dark daylilies fade pretty fast, but I do have lots of ‘Black & Blue’ – it was easy to fall in love with that one!

    Soil is different and sun is so strong here. Even things that start out as black metal are less black after a year, but I sure like the effect in your photos.


  15. Frances says:

    Annie…you are most welcome and thanks.

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