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Touches of Black

So much has been written about color in the garden, but in recent years there has been a trend to include touches of black.

queen of the night tulip

Photo: HocusFocusClick (flickr)

Dark tulips, for example, "Queen of the Night" can make a strong statement.

So much has been written about color in the garden, but in recent years there has been a trend to include touches of black.

An English designer, Karen Platt wrote a book “Black Magic and Purple Passion” and thus stirred up a debate about whether black is a color and if it does exist in nature.  However, there is no doubt that dark foliage, burgundy and purplish black, can be used effectively to contrast with lighter colors.

Black Beauties

Dark tulips, for example, “Queen of the Night” can make a strong statement when planted with other spring bulbs of lighter hues, and dark iris too are stunning.

At a Chelsea flower show, a spectacular planting of a dark Japanese maple tree, mondo grass, dark-leaved heuchera and deep red roses was greatly admired.

The White Flower Firm catalog this year showcases a Cimicifuga ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, which is a tall lacy-leaved plant for light shade, and its white flower spikes in late summer contrast beautifully with its black/purple foliage.

There is also a wonderful new Sedum ‘Black Jack’ with pink flowers in late summer.  However, Karen Platt advises not to use these black beauties near white gravel or mulch them with stone chips.  If you do, the horticulture police might be after you!

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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