Romancing the black

The black plant in the garden always makes a statement. I purchased 5 bareroot Ophiopogon niger (black mondo grass) from Brent and Becky’s last year…and while they aren’t as robust as I’d like, they are still eyecatching. That black mondo grass incidentally has gone up in price at B&B, and I’ve since lost 2 of those plants.

Today I’m taking a very close look at sedums and ajuga. Of the sedums, the dark purple-leaved cultivars are particularly attractive. Both Black Jack and Postman’s Pride are border plant/specimen contenders for the S1 bed where their dark foliage will contrast nicely against the white/blue theme setting. Of the ajuga (bugleweed) I’m studying the Black Scallop and the Braunherz, 2 glossy-leaved groundcovers that may see use in the back beds.

Now another “colorful” plant that I’ve used, with some disappointng results two years ago, is the heuchera. The Texas heat proved too much for the Heuchera caramels that I trialed. But the S1 bed has a more controlled water schedule (and some shade protection) which may allow the heuchera to thrive. Some cultivars that drew my attention: Black Beauty, Midnight Rose, Obsidian, Plum Pudding, and the americana Chocolate Veil. The Sooner Plant Farm based in Oklahoma looks like a great place to purchase these plants.

But before I close, let’s not forget the fringe flower, or loropetalum. I’m thinking of filling the hole vacated by a dead nandina in S1 with a short, dark-leaf cultivar…the shortest I’ve found is a “dwarf” called Daruma, which still grows 3-4 feet high. My only concern are its bright pink blooms which might clash with the white and blue theme of S1.