Black is an underrated but unique color in the garden and I have been amazed at just how popular the color black is with our customers. The demand for plants with black leaves and flowers has grown significantly in the past few years but it really shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, black can be combined with just about any other color and many fashion experts have stated that “black goes with everything”! This color can represent a range of emotions and feelings from seriousness to seduction. It can project strength, power, and sophistication or symbolize secretiveness and the unknown. The sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September and while the color most associated with this jewel is blue there are in fact black sapphires which are quite rare. Finally, wearing a black ribbon is an act of remembrance for victims of 9-11 and their families and the attempt to comfort these families and remember these victims is black’s most important role this month.
This month the summer officially comes to an end, at least according to the calendar. You’ll want to make sure you enjoy the Black Oil Sunflowers you planted earlier in the season but be sure to leave some seed heads for the birds which will benefit from the high protein content of this plant. Your Chocolate Cosmos will continue to bloom into the fall and some roses such as Black Baccara will become darker as the weather cools. Finally, this is a great time to plant some Jet Black or Nigra Hollyhock seed as this biennial will sprout now and bloom for you next spring and summer.
After the summer fades it is on to Halloween and we all know the role that black plays in that holiday. Why not plant some Black Magic Viola or Black Devil Pansies as the perfect companion to those orange pumpkins that you’ve carved into Jack-O-Lanterns. You can also plant some Queen of Night Tulips or Midnight Mystic Hyacinth bulbs that will provide show-stopping flowers in the springtime. Fall is also a great time to plant a groundcover and Black Scallop Bugleweed might be just the plant you need in those areas of your yard where grass just doesn’t seem to grow.
It may be me but doesn’t the night sky seem to be darker during the winter months? Perhaps it is because the days are so short but Black Mondo Grass, another type of groundcover, can provide a striking contrast to the melting winter snow. For many gardeners, winter is a lesson in patience as we wait with anticipation for spring to arrive. Before that happens though Hellebores such as Black Swan will bloom and they will signal that spring is right around the corner.
When spring finally arrives we’re all ready to “get our fingers dirty” and the color black can play a significant role in our garden. You’ll want to plant black flowers and foliage in sunny areas so that you don’t turn your landscape into a “black hole”. Using black with bright colors as well as silver and gold is a great way to accentuate its beauty. Black Sweet Potato vines look spectacular in containers with silver in Dusty Miller and perhaps a red Coleus or Celosia. Blackalicious Iris and Odessa Calla lilies are stunning when paired with yellow or orange peers and planting Elephant Ears such as Black Magic, Arabian Night Dahlias and Black Star Gladiolus in May and June will lead to beautiful blooms later in the summer. Finally, let’s not forget about the vegetable garden! Varieties of eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes, and corn bear fruit that is black in color and that wouldn’t that look unique in your summer salads and other dishes?
I hope that you’ll agree with me that there really is something about black that makes it a truly special color.