Turning to the Dark Side

I have a real interest in black plants and am trying my hand at the art of Goth Gardening by putting together what I hope will turn out to be a dramatic dark display.

Over the years I have tended to lean towards predominantly ‘alternative’ tastes when it comes to the likes of music, clothing and pop culture, but I didn’t really expect that to permeate into my garden. I appreciate that when most people think of gardens and plants they imagine bright and cheery colours rather than black, however dark plants can add real drama and intrigue.

My interest in black plants first started when I came across Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ and really appreciated how it’s almost-black leaves provided a real contrast to the rest of the border around it. I then become really intrigued in the Instagram posts of American tattoo artist and model Kat Von D, where she showcased a real range of black plants in her garden with the hashtag #gothgardening – a hashtag which you can search to discover images of black plants from gardeners around the globe.

For the last year I have kept my eyes peeled for black plants at shows I have visited and in garden centres. My collection started with my own Ophiopogon and it has started growing at a rapid rate. By searching seed retailers online and on sites such as ebay I found myself ordering more and more seeds, while adding plants to the collection from shows and plant fairs.

So, my plant for this year is to start the basis for my Black Garden, but starting small with a gothic pot display showcasing several black plants. A pure black bloom is relatively rare in plants, but I want my flowers to be as black as possible while the foliage will come in varying shades of green, as well as dark grasses. I accept such a display will not be to everyone’s tastes but I want it to make a statement and add a real element of drama to my garden.

I expect this Black Garden to generate discussion – positive and negative- among my horticultural peers and connections in person and on social media. I have mentioned the notion of this Goth garden to people over the last year and it has admittedly been met with both intrigue and derision, while one American student gardener at Hidcote jokingly suggested it should come with a ‘My Chemical Romance’ soundtrack.

Below I will summarise the black plants I have got in my collection. Not all these will be within the display this year, such as biennials or seed collected ready to sow at the start of next year, but a lot will. I do intend to add pictures and showcase the plants I use as the display comes together. I am very excited to see how this little project comes together and expect the end result to really stand out.

  • Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’
  • Nemophila menziesii ‘Pennie Black’
  • Pansy ‘Black Moon’
  • Poppy ‘Black Peony’
  • Aquilegia vulgaris ‘William Guinness’
  • Geranium ‘Black Beauty’
  • Rudbeckia ‘Green Wizard’
  • Cornflower ‘Black Ball’
  • Dianthus barbatus nigrescens ‘Sooty’
  • Hollyhock rosea nigra
  • Lisianthus nigrescens (this is a rare Mexican perennial known as the ‘Flower of Death’)

3 thoughts on “Turning to the Dark Side

  1. It’s a fascinating concept, and one I would never have considered. A quick research tells me there are some very interesting plants to choose from. I look forward to seeing the photos when you post them.

    Liked by 1 person

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