Is black the new green
Henry Ford famously said, “You can have any colour, as long as it’s black”. Little did he know just how in vogue black would become in all aspects of design, including gardening. It never seems to go out of style. Black may not be the first colour you think of when gardening, but it is perfect to add depth and little drama. Black is bold and makes a strong statement. It looks super sophisticated and makes other colours around it pop.
Here is a list of black and purple-black plants to have fun with in the garden:
- Ficus Robusta Burgundy is a popular indoor air-filtering plant with large glossy, dark leaves and is easy to grow.
- Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, or black elephant’s ear, has very large, dramatic leaves and is well suited to a shady spot in the garden.
- Petunia ‘Black Velvet’ is an eye-catcher and looks great in the garden for both pots and hanging baskets in the sun. It is the new darling in a trend towards black-flowered plants.
- Ophiopogon ‘Black Dragon’ is a stunning black strappy grass-like perennial that looks better and better the denser the foliage becomes with age. It produces dainty flowers of pale violet with shiny blackberries. Popular for mass planting contrast or in a mixed contemporary container.
Tip: Black dragon looks amazing when planted next to the light grey leaf of Stachys byzantine or lamb’s ear.
- Ipomoea batatas, or coral bells, is of the ornamental sweet potato family. They have beautifully shaped leaves and can be stunningly paired with the lime green or pinkish version of the same plant. They look stunning when trailing or tumbling over objects and grow well in a dry shady spot.
- Heuchera, or coral bells, have deep red and purple options. Their attractive large leaves and oomph to the surroundings. Their flowers are delicate and colourful and they do well in a dry shady spot.
- The Black Madonna rose grows to shoulder height and the blooms make ideal cut-flowers.
- Back Magic roses also grow to shoulder height. They are good cut-flowers and are free flowering.
- The Black Berry rose grows to shoulder height and can produce fifty or more medium-sized roses at a time. It is good as a cut flower and is free flowering.
- Alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’ has deep burgundy foliage making it a real stand out plant in the garden.
- Lagerstroemia indica, known also as Black Diamond, Purely Purple, Pride of India, or even crape myrtle, has black leaves that contrast beautifully with its vibrant purple blooms. They will grow three to six metres high and love well-drained soil.
- Brinjal, aubergine or eggplant, are easy to grow and a very rewarding “Old World” plant. They come in a range of black varieties including Black Beauty, Napoli, Long Purple, Oriental Fingerlings, Florence Violet and several others.
- Phyllostachys nigra, or black bamboo, has graceful weeping foliage and striking black stems. They are a firm favourite when you want to create an oriental feel.
- Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’, or Black Rose Aeonium, is one of the most striking plants to include. This very unusual water-wise succulent has a rose shape on top of long stems.
- Rock rose (Echevaria) have a few dark coloured varieties with the most common deliciously named Chocolate. These water-wise succulents are amazing in rock gardens or tumbling over walls or the edges of pots and hanging baskets.
- Last, but not least is what expert gardeners call well-composted soil - black gold. Compost is so valuable for increasing the fertility of the soil as it adds rich microbial life and turns sterile soil into rich, black soil that plants really respond to. Note: good soil = good roots = good plant.
Tip: Black Violas, although out of season, are amazingly scrummy edible flowers that add a dramatic contrast to salads and dishes.
Neat to know: Lime green, orange, pale pink and blue have the greatest contrast against black.