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Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden

By Paul Bonine

Grow and cut some of these enigmatic beauties and you’ll find that a garden with a dark side can be a lovely thing.

Martha Stewart Living

Striking, mysterious, sinister, and strange all describe the singular appeal of plants with black (or near-black) foliage, flowers, or fruit. For some gardeners, they are curiosities that yield a special thrill. For others, they are invaluable for providing contrast with brighter elements. Whatever the source of their somber magic, these dusky denizens of the plant kingdom are irresistible to anyone drawn to nature's more unusual manifestations.

In this compact, accessible volume, Paul Bonine profiles 75 of the most alluring black annuals, perennials, bulbs, and shrubs. Some of the plants — like agapanthus and lilies — are darker versions of familiar favorites, while others are rarities that will appeal to the most discerning collector. Each entry describes the plant's essential features and details the requirements for growth and care.

Whether your taste runs to pansies, columbines, and sweet williams or to obscure orchids from the Andes, you'll find a host of intriguing choices in this beautifully illustrated, entertaining book. Black Plants is sure to haunt your dreams.

Media reviews

"Gardeners and plant lovers looking for ideas for distinct color schemes and exciting plant suggestions will appreciate this."

—Phillip Oliver, Library Journal

"Go ahead, open the cover, creep through the screeching gate. The plants inside are no nightmare. More like a dream."

—Kym Pokorny, Oregonian

"Rather than cast gloom, these plants can add mystery, depth, and sophistication to the garden."

—Kathy Huber, Houston Chronicle

"Black is not the first color that comes to mind when you think of plants. But as this beautiful guide makes clear, dark-hued leaves and flowers, from perennials to tropicals, have enormous appeal in a garden."

Martha Stewart Living

"If you're looking for something with an exotic twist for your garden, check out Paul Bonine's eye-catching little book of black plants."

—Jodi Delong, Halifax Chronicle Herald

"Some of the names are frightening, but their stories are enlightening."

—T. J. Banes, Indianapolis Star

"Your garden might never be the same."

—Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal

"Bonine is making the point that these deeply pigmented plants are striking additions to the ordinary run of garden bed and container choices, but the creepy factor is irresistible."

—Valerie Sudol, Newark Star-Ledger

"Something that strange and surreal has to be a part of Halloween. Enjoy the celebration and think about adding some black plants to your garden."

—Larry A. Sagers, Deseret News

"Despite some highly evocative names, this haunting book isn't just a Halloween treat. Dark foliage and flowers offer great opportunities for contrast, depth and focal points in the garden."

—Nancy Schoeffler, Hartford Courant

"This little gem of a book packs a planter's punch. ... If you never grow a single plant highlighted, it's still a fascinating read."

—Kylee Baumle, Our Little Acre blog

"Black generally has a negative connotation, a signal that all is not well with a plant. Paul Bonine has set out to salvage black's horticultural reputation with Black Plants."

—Renee Enna, Chicago Tribune

"Black works great for cocktail dresses and luxury cars, but in the flower garden? Absolutely."

—Deb Wandell, San Francisco Chronicle

"An invaluable guide for those leaning towards the opinion that black is the new green."

—Nicholas Spencer, Financial Times

"Someday, I shall create the black-and-white themed garden I have been dreaming of; when I do, Black Plants will become muddy and dog-eared."

—Linda Beutler, Pacific Horticulture

"The addition of these striking shrubs, perennials and annuals will add depth and drama to the landscape."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"Even if you never grow a black or even a brown plant, the book is still an entertaining look at nature's oddballs, and a great gift choice for anyone who loves plants."

—Elizabeth Licata, Buffalo Spree Magazine

"If you want to add dark blooms for contrast in your garden, grow some very novel plants, or plant an entire garden with a dark color theme, Black Plants is a great resource to have on hand."

—Carol Michel, May Dreams Gardens blog

"Every once in a while a book is published that fills an empty niche. With Black Plants, finding dark leaved and dark flowering examples doesn't need to be a mystery anymore."

—Fran Durner, Anchorage Daily News

"I wish I could say I was always intrigued by the dozens of gardening books publishers send our way ... but every once in a while, I'll get a gardening book that I read cover to cover, such as Paul Bonine's little book called Black Plants."

—Kim Brown, Tulsa World

"This whimsical collection … is beautiful to behold."

—Ami McKay, Canada

About the author

Paul Bonine

Paul Bonine is a garden writer, lecturer, and owner of the wholesale specialty plant nursery Xera Plants, in Portland, Oregon. He has consulted for NPR, the Sunset Western Garden Book, and The Oregonian. When not in his nursery, Paul lectures on topics including low-water gardening, unusual vines, and deer-resistant gardening.

Read more about Paul Bonine

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