Garden, Gardens

Add impact and glamour to your garden with near-black plants

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This July we're going back to black, with a whole issue dedicated to dark inspiration for everything from interiors to landscapes. Although black may be the last thing that makes you think of a lush, healthy garden, we're here to show you it's not.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but 'black' flowers, foliage and vegetables aren't truly noir, rather shades of dark purple, deep burgundy, maroon or red. In the right light and setting, however, they appear black, and are able transform an otherwise ordinary garden into something quite remarkable.

Near-black plants are unusually beautiful, all the more so for their relative rarity in nature. 'In domestic gardens, dark plants are best used with some restraint,' says Joburg-based landscaper Tim Steyn. 'But by contrasting almost-black plants with shades of grey, white or green, the effects can be spectacular. It's about creating tonal layers and interspersing these dark accents as focal points within your planting.'

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at a few of the plants you can turn to when creating a dramatic modern garden.

Hellebore

black plants

The darker hellebores hold their colour long after the better-known pale pink and white varieties have faded to green in the spring. Surround them with glowing foliage and use pure, bright blooms such as snowdrops and winter aconite to make these dark beauties really stand out.

Arum lily

black plants

Available in such a deep shade of burgundy that they're practically black, sculpted arum lilies grow in charming succession. Pair them with a variety of grasses for a natural look or plant them next to yellow trumpet flowers to create dramatic contrast.

Elephant's Ear

Dark foliage can create spectacular backgrounds. With its large, luxurious leaves, the tropical classic elephant's ear Black Magic variety gives a modern punch to poolsides or water features.

Petunia

black plants

Though newly engendered varieties such as the Black Velvet petunia are about as close to black as a plant gets, their seeds may be expensive or hard to come by. Instead, opt for the Sophistica Blackberry variety; it's almost as dark and grows beautifully in pots, beds and borders.

Aeonium arboreum

black plants

Even without the dark hue, this tall succulent is is visually impressive. Its rosettes of dark reddish-brown or burgundy leaves and yellow flowers appear from summer through to autumn. Because of its height and texture, the Zwartkop or Black Rose aeonium arboreum stands out among the rest.

Get your copy of the #HLBWIssue in stores or online.