The Best Black Plants

The Gardenist

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I've been bingeing at the library. I am currently testing the limit of how many books they will allow me to check out at one time. Seems that when I was a kid the limit was something like 5, but I am at 15 at the moment and no one is challenging me. But I think I need to lay off for an bit on my own accord. So this morning over coffee, I was perusing Black Plants by Paul Bonine. I love black plants... wanna know why? 

Because they are mysterious, unexpected, slightly unnatural seeming, and just like in your wardrobe, they look good with everything. 

Ok, so they aren't really all black — there isn't anything that really is — but they are as close as you can get in the plant world, and they are pretty dramatic. 

Here are some of my favorites to get you started. 

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Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' — This low, easy-growing ground cover is the perfect frame to brighter, more colorful plants. Use it to keep weeds down. It also looks especially great with blue foliage plants (like Festuca glauca 'elijah blue'). 

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I passed up a Diablo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'monolo') last year in the clearance shed at my local nursery. I am still kicking myself for that one after I saw what it does in the fall....it turns beautiful orange and then red.  

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Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty' — I have had a hard time finding just the right spot for Actaea, but now that I have it, it is looking beautiful.  I put mine right below the leaky hose bib. That way it gets lots of extra water — which it really likes. 

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Korean Angelica is a bi-ennial, but it supposedly reseeds itself. I just planted mine this year, so I won't get these beautiful seed heads until next summer. I can't wait.... but in the meantime this architectural plant with big leaves is still keeping things interesting. 

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Weigela 'Fine Wine' has become a star performer in my garden.  My only complaint is that I wish it were a bit taller. I've got two of them just a little too far deep in the bed to be really appreciated (they need to be moved).  This a front of the border character, so you can get the full view of the beautiful blooms. 

Do you grow any black plants?  Tell us your favorites. 

(Images: Rochelle Greayer on instagram, Black Ajuga - Kensington Farms, Diablo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'monolo')  from Furneys Nursery, Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty' from Inside Iris, Korean Angelica from Moosey Country Gardens,  Weigela 'Fine wine' by Rochelle Greayer at studio 'g'.)

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