The title refers not to garish ghouls or nightmarish ne’re do wells but rather the contents of the part of the Fairegarden referred to as the black garden. It has been in existence three years now and has been filled, some might say overfilled with plants that either have dark leaves, flowers or are so named. We begin with the daylily denizens, showcasing the newest arrival, just purchased last weekend at nearby Champion Daylilies, Hemerocallis ‘Buddy’s Black Jack’. It was love at first sight of this bicolor so Buddy was added to the collection which can be seen in total on the sidebar page listing, Plants We Grow-Daylilies, or click here. The other dark flowered daylilies in this bed are Bela Lugosi, Black Prince, Night Beacon, Chicago Regal, Soot Storm and the tall double H. fulva flore pleno/kwanso, must count the petals, which keeps returning even though it has been dug out many times.
Lilies are also well represented in the area, shown are Asiatic Liliums ‘Landini’ and L. ‘Cappucino’, gifts from daughters Semi and Chickenpoet respectively. Others of this family that are grown together in the den of darkness, well it is quite sunny, not dark but think metaphorically please, species Black Beauty, Asiatic Monte Negro, unknown red Asiatic from a mixture, Chinese Trumpet ‘African Queen’ and ‘Lady Alice’, ‘Tiger Babies’ and Orienpet ‘Robert Swanson’. Also seedlings of Chinese Trumpet ‘Black Dragon’ still very tiny, thanks MMD! There is also a page Plants We Grow-Lilies on the sidebar, or click here.
Trees and shrubs are limited due to space constraints but include the deciduous azaleas Mt. Saint Helen’s, shown above and the never blooming, yet, King Red. The King was planted just before the late killing freeze of 2007 and is slowly regaining stature and strength. Next year might be the year of flowering, it is hoped. There is, again a page on the sidebar called Plants We Grow-deciduous Azaleas, or click here.
The darkest leaves are represented by Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ and the purple leaf peach which was the starter planting for the black garden, a passalong rooted cutting from good neighbor Mickey, he even planted it for me. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ has spread throughout, the tall red blooms are welcome and join the rest of the Crocosmia collection. (No page for them just yet, hopefully this will be the year they are codified and published, although there is a post here-Winter Plant Portrait-Crocosmias.) Before it was the black garden, it was to be a patch of lavender, the only monoculture here, if the groundcover of Ajuga repens isn’t counted that is. The lavender kept dying, being replaced with cuttings of nearby plants, in fact the whole thing was cutting grown, but our climate and soil conditions ruled out the vision of a lavender field ala Provence. The idea of a themed garden of black with color punches of red, orange and purple to brighten the scene was hatched.
Finding suitable occupants is quite enjoyable. The garden is filled with black or dark flowers and leaves and gothic type names, such as Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’. Perhaps seeds of these could be scattered right now. Other trees/shrubs living in the home of dark/black already include two seedling butterfly bushes with purple/blue flowers trained as standards, and a red leaf birch tree, Betula ‘Crimson Frost’ that has not grown very rapidly but does show improvement with each passing year. Reading the blurb on the Mobot site, it becomes clear why this tree is not doing well here: prefers evenly moist soil, snow cover on the root zone in winter and summers not above 75F. We have none of those, it is a wonder that it is alive at all. There is a row of Viburnums seperating the black from the white/yellow bed just to the west that includes V. ‘Blue Muffin’, ‘Winterthur’, ‘Brandywine’, three ‘Cardinal Candy’, opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ and plicatum. These are all still small and the planned Viburnum hedge might have to be modified as they grow larger.
Tulips mark the beginning of flowers in the black garden. While most tulips are not reliable at returning here, the two above, Walmart Orange and Queen Of The Night have so far brightened the spot each April. Black Mondo, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ marks the Queen tulip placement and Japanese blood grass the orange. At one time Ballerina was growing here but has not returned. It might be replanted this fall after seeing them at Great Dixter. At risk of sounding like a broken record, there is a page on the sidebar called Plants We Grow-Spring Bulbs, or click here.
Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ is the go to edging, enjoying the partial shade provided by the peach tree that has been recently limbed up to provide air and light underneath. Other perennials include Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Ageratina altissima ‘Chocolate’, Actaea racemosa ‘Atropurpurea’, Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’, Sedum ‘Black Jack’ , Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’, Euphoriba dulcis ‘Chameleon’, Bergenia ssp., pink Calla lily (don’t ask) and various irises including Superstition. Tall Vernonia gigantea seedlings have been added for some late season purple towers. Self seeding to the point of weediness, purple leaf and blooming Perilla frutescens is allowed to spread in there. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’ is growing nicely. It remains to be seen if we can keep them going through judicious seed spreading before they make the permanent list. Said list may be incomplete for every trip out to take a census finds plants that were hiding, forgotten or have done a disappearing act. We will add them as their names are known and pictures become available. Maybe someday this area will even have its own page on the sidebar.