The color black, while rare in nature, dark purple and blood red flowers, caliginous vegetables and the burgundy foreboding foliage of unusual plants all speak to the darker side of simple gardeners who harbor a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mystique. You know that neighbor that across the street that makes you a little uncomfortable? You just can’t put your finger on it, but it may be their landscape. Morticia Addams’ pet peeve in growing roses was that they had to come with all those blooms, thank goodness she would sigh and exclaim that the thorns make them all worthwhile. It’s a matter of perception.
Are gothic gardens a decadent but scary thought for you? It needn’t be. Here is a “re-vamped” list of some, but not all of the hundreds of varieties that you can use. All of these plants can be found either in garden centers or in specialty seed catalogs like the Whatcom Seed Company.
|My own gothic backyard neighborhood watch.|
The Dark Side of Rose Gardening
In the world of rosarians, there is no such creature as a black rose yet. Many horticulturists have tried but it really depends on how you hold them up to the sunlight or in what they are combined with that accents their ebony hues. Here are some roses that are very decadent and ooze with mysterious qualities.
|Hollyhock, 'Nigra' available at Thompson Seed Catalog|
Ornamental Sweet Potato, Ipomoea bataas 'Blackie' has black leaves and stems, making it an excellent choice for a trellis or garden arbor to relax under during your moonlight romps. Carpet Bugle, also called ajuga, has midnight purple leaves and can be used as a ground cover. The fragrant buddleia, 'Black Knight' cultivar has blue-black flowers, which attract butterflies. Weeping beeches have black-purplish leaves that have seasonal copper colors as well. Heucheras, a lovely bronze-purple container plant or easy groundcover is an excellent choice for a funereal flowery atmosphere.
Herbs in the gothic garden can include the common basil variety called Dark Opal. Its attractive purple leaves are delicious in salads or soups, even as a highlight to your Halloween dinner plate. Bronze fennel or vegetables like chocolate and purple peppers are easily grown in my garden, but a few herbs are not found as often, such as black willow or black echinacea. Walk through nurseries and garden centers. You will find new species of ‘tempting” dark plants being introduced annually.
It’s too late for this year, but when you design your Gothic garden for next fall, remember to include summertime planting of a few pumpkinseeds in your patch. Varieties of pumpkins that are favorites are Big Max, Funny Face, Connecticut Field, Spirit, and Calabaza, but you can also plant Boo, a tiny tabletop white pumpkin, colossal Goliath Giants and even blue pumpkins! Planting them in early June and July next year will ensure a nice sized Jack-0-lantern to guard your doorstep in October.
Hopefully, I have given you some ideas of hauntingly unnatural looking plants and shrubs you can use to spook … ahem, I mean spoof up your fall yard. Be creative and go a little batty. Just as long as your plants don’t die on you, I won’t be concerned.