Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black Plants - A Book Review

A few years ago, it became fashionable to create a Chocolate Garden, a trend that continues to be popular. Plants grown in a Chocolate Garden have a chocolate fragrance and/or have very dark blooms or foliage in tones of deep purple, brown, burgundy, maroon, or near-black.

A great resource book for planning such a garden is the newly-published Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden by Paul Bonine. (Timber Press, September 2009) This little gem of a book packs a planter's punch by giving essential information on 75 stunning plants that would be appropriate for creating either a themed garden or a smaller pocket of attraction.

With each plant description, characteristics are provided that aid in making choices for the garden: soil conditions, hardiness zones, growth habits and light requirements. Suggestions are given for companion plantings that show off each plant's unique traits. On the page facing each description is a beautiful photograph of the plant.

Growing plants with such dark colors could be seen as gloomy and unexciting, but when paired with contrasting colors such as lime green, a very dramatic effect can be obtained.
Black Plants provides the necessary information to create such drama, but if you never grow a single plant highlighted in this book, it's still a fascinating read.

Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden
by Paul Bonine


Paul Bonine is co-owner of the wholesale nursery Xera Plants in Sherwood, OR, and has worked in the nursery industry in Oregon for almost two decades. In addition to consulting for NPR, assorted newspapers, and television, Paul has written for various gardening publications. This is his first book.

The product or merchandise being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for testing and reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine, with no suggestions whatsoever by the manufacturer or distributor. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.


Troy said...

I saw the phrase "Chocolate Garden" in your opening sentence, and my mind picture little rows of Milky Ways, and Almond Joys, just waiting to be picked. M&M's blooming along the borders, for color, a chocolate fountain in the back, trickling slowly into a pool that would make Willy Wonka jealous.

I guess my idea of a Chocolate Garden and the more tradiltional idea aren't quite the same.

Dave@The Home Garden said...

It sounds interesting. Just mix them with some orange flowers and you have a garden perfect for October 31st!

Wasco said...

Remember the cool black peppers at Cantigny?

Kylee Baumle said...

Troy ~ LOLOL! Wouldn't that be great? Kind of like a Money Plant growing real money.

Dave ~ Good call!

Wasco ~ Yes! We grew those here last year. 'Black Pearl.' I didn't find any for purchase this year, so didn't grow them. Maybe next year again.

MrBrownThumb said...

LOL @ Troy. My nephew (4 years old) planted M&Ms in the garden because he wanted an M&M plant. :0)

Looks like a cool book, but I'm waiting to see if I want to buy it until I get to look at what the inside of the books looks like.

Saul said...

if your readers are looking for more information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a detailed, interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at

Karen Platt said...

If you really love black plants, get yourself a copy of my original 'Black Magic and Purple Passion' now in its 3rd ed (2750 black plants), Kylee is going to review it when it arrives with her, but it is available now. Also the 4th ed is available as an ebook only from Karen Platt's website so google me for the real low down on all that's black in the garden.

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