August 7, 2009

Garden Inspiration: Black Flowers

Black flowers? Really, why not? I was curious about the varieties of black blooms as well as black foliage plants that are potential candidates for gardeners after seeing the interesting black and white flower gardens in Giverny, France.

All it took was a bit of web surfing to come up with a few example candidates to add a touch of black to the garden. There are many more seeds, bulbs and perennials available from a variety of sources. All you need is your imagination to add the intrigue of black to your gardens.

First up, unique "jewels" in the hellebore collection from Terra Nova Nurseries captured my attention.

The black Helleborus Winter Jewels™ Onyx Odyssey and the white Sparkling Diamond could be used for a beautiful late winter to early spring display.

Cottage gardeners may be interested in growing black hollyhocks, angel's trumpet, poppies or bachelor's buttons. While traditional cottage gardens are known for color, I can see using a dash of black with blue or white. Some of the gardeners who are fond of a "red garden bed" may find a touch of black fits well into that color scheme, especially when using red and black poppies.

Hollyhock 'Black Beauty'
Black Peony Poppy Seeds
Black Ball Bachelor's Button Seeds

Bearded irises are on my list of plants to add to my garden. After seeing photos of stunning black irises, I am very tempted to find a suitable space in my sunny gardens. I'd like to use the black irises with blue flowers, perhaps more irises or use salvia guaranitica 'black and blue' as a tall background perennial. Two black irises from Schreiner's Gardens bloom in mid and late season, which may work with the timing of the bloom on the salvia.

Iris 'Before the Storm'
Iris 'Anvil of Darkness'

Those looking for more exotic plants with black blooms have some interesting possibilities. How about a black agapanthus or jack-in-the-pulpit? Plant Delights Nursery, located here in North Carolina, offers these unusual plants.

Arisaema triphyllum 'Black Jack' (Black Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
Agapanthus 'Back in Black' PP 16,244 (Back in Black Lily-of-the-Nile)

For a black and white combination in one plant, why not black foliage with white blooms?

Terra Nova also offers a black bugbane with fragrant blooms, Actaea simplex 'Black Negligee'.

Annie's Annuals has a very unusual geranium with black foliage and tiny pink to white blooms. Geranium sessiliflorum ‘Nigricans’ (Dwarf Black Cranesbill) is a tiny, dwarf perennial for front of the border.

Another ground-hugger with black foliage and yellow blooms is Ranunculus ficaria 'Brazen Hussy' (Brazen Hussy Lesser Celandine), a spring ephemeral from Plant Delights Nursery.

Black Current Swirl Angel's Trumpet from Swallowtail Garden Seeds has black stems and purple swirled blooms.

If you prefer a more familiar black foliage plant, then Heuchera Obsidian from Bluestone Perennials may be a good option. Although the blooms are pink instead of white, they also offer an elderberry, Sambucus Black Beauty, that has near-black foliage in a shrub to small tree form factor, depending upon the growing conditions.

Speaking of tall plants with black foliage, Colocasia esculenta 'Black Runner' (Black Runner Elephant Ear) and Black Castor Bean are great candidates for making a huge impact in the garden. Castor bean is a poisonous plant, so use with caution.

Finally, if you'd like to recreate the black and white tulips for a spring display similar to that in the garden inspiration from France, then you can get a paired combination from White Flower Farm with their black and white tulips in the Nuit Blanche Tulip Mixture. Even the name is French!

Photos are courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries. Words by Freda Cameron. August 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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The Musician. My late husband

The Musician. My late husband
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