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Dark Hues

I just can’t seem to get enough of these dark-colored plants in my garden.

A dark coleus alongside some plumey grass at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

This year I found myself irresistibly drawn to dark-hued flowers and foliage.

I was entranced with my friend Cindy’s Canadian Cherry tree. In the spring, it has green foliage followed by white flowers and then the leaves turn a magnificently rich burgundy. Such a variety of virtues.

I was also entranced by the hollyhock ‘Blacknight’, which has deep purplish-ebony blooms. And in my planters by my front steps, I still have a profusion of dark, dark coleus (name unknown or probably just forgotten) combined with white petunias.

I have been cutting the coleus for bouquets, and it enhances everything I pair it with. It looks smashing, or perhaps dashing, with pink, white, yellow or orange mums at this time of the year, but it was so profuse that I used it all summer with all colors and types of flowers.

It provides the perfect foil for any brash-colored blooms, as it tones them down. Brassy orange marigolds, for example, manage to look quite sophisticated in the presence of dark elegant foliage.

Earlier in the year I admired Cimicifuga ‘Hillside Black Beauty’. It is the best of the dark-leaved bugbanes for northern zones. The dark ferny foliage contrasts perfectly with the white flowers.

Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ makes a great edging for borders, and it is the best dark-leaved coral bells available, though ‘Black Taffeta’ comes close especially in the spring with its small pale pink blooms.

I just can’t seem to get enough of these dark-colored plants in my garden, and with a frost looming I am rooting some cuttings of the coleus to help me through the winter.

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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