Take a trip into the dark side of gardening with Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden. (Paperback, Timber Press, $14.95) by Paul Bonine. This new book of hort noir is out just in time to haunt your dreams for Halloween.
With hues running from the deepest burgundy, through chocolate to nearly night black, some plants carry scary sounding names like "Voodoo lily," "Vampire's Dracula orchid," and "Mourning widow." But instead of inspiring fear, these plants could add a depth of color missing from your borders or containers.
Bewitching color photos fill full pages of the squarish compact book. Each specimen has it's own photo with a facing page that contains a description and information such as zone, sun and water requirements. There are also helpful suggestions regarding planting combinations.
Paging through the book, I counted 29 perennials in Zones 3-5, several annuals, shrubs, bulbs and plenty that could be used in containers and wintered inside. At the back of the book is a USDA winter hardiness chart, which is always helpful. (Every gardening book should include one.)
Black is a difficult color to find for the garden. If green has become the new black in the fashion world, then black has become, well, the new black in the gardening world. Every once in a while a book is published that fills an empty niche. With Black Plants, finding dark leaved and dark flowering examples doesn't need to be a mystery anymore.