Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden
by Paul Bonine is the kind of book that drives me wild. Seventy-five gorgeous plants and over half of them are not hardy for me. Wait. Maybe it’s just that half of the ones I want
to grow aren’t hardy for me. I actually didn’t go through the book and count. At any rate, if you are a beginning cold climate gardener, stay away from this book. It will make you feel like there’s nothing you can grow in Zone 4.
Sooty sweet William
If you’re a veteran gardener who has earned her icicles, just be warned this book incites plant lust and empty-walletitis. (Hey, if Carol at May Dreams Gardens can make up words
, so can I.) Did you know there is a dark-foliaged rhododendron, ‘Ebony Pearl’? The color of its flowers is not even mentioned, but it is supposedly hardy to Zone 5. Maybe you knew about ‘Black Scallop’ ajuga, but I didn’t. (Its foliage is featured as the background image on the book’s cover.) I’d really love to grow the purple-leaved grape, but it’s only hardy to Zone 6. Sigh. And I wonder if Trillium chloropetalum
‘Volcano’ would do well in my Northeast garden, since it is native to the Northwest of North America? It’s hardy to Zone 5, but not all trilliums do well in other parts of the continent. These are the kinds of thoughts this book inspires.
There are no sources listed for any of these plants; you’ll have to hunt them down on your own. In some cases I thought the hardiness zone was a bit optimistic; Voodoo Lily in Zone 5? And the dahlias were rated as Zone 8, but if you grow them as annuals it doesn’t matter. (There are other plants listed as annuals, so I guess some people grow dahlias as perennials?) With a stack of catalogs at your feet and a cup of something warm by your side, this book is a fine accessory to the winter garden dreaming we do when it’s snowing outside, which, this winter, applies to more southern gardeners than I ever would have imagined.
The three flowers pictured all grew in my garden this summer and are featured in Black Plants. (Click on any of the images to see a larger image.) Timber Press sent me a complimentary copy to review.
Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.
in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013