Black is not so basic when it comes to your garden. Black-eyed Susans notwithstanding, black generally has a negative connotation, a signal that all is not well with a plant — black spot fungus being just one example.
Paul Bonine has set out to salvage black's horticultural reputation with "Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden" (Timber Press, $14.95).
And just in time for Halloween too. With names like the Dracula vampira orchid and voodoo lily, some black plants lend themselves to celebrating the dark side of botany. But Bonine wants to celebrate the sumptuous as well.
"Even an ordinary garden can be transformed by dark foliage and flowers into a canvas with the depth and play of light and shadow..." Bonine writes in his introduction."... Dark-leaved and dark-flowered plants — as unnatural as they may seem — are a part of nature that is undeniably alluring."
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Not all of the plants here are technically black. Some are deep purple (Queen of Night tulip), others deep maroon (Night Wings day lily), and many others are speckled with black accents.
But there are plenty of really cool black plants presiding over these pages, such as black pussy willow and Black Pearl ornamental pepper, all ready to give black a new lease on garden life.