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4.0 out of 5 stars
Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2009
This is a nice book for someone who's thinking of creating a black garden or looking for a few really interesting accent plants. It lost one star because there's no index & I'd have like another 25 plants. The author gives the mature size of some plants, but not all. Light & water requirements are represented by 4 & 3 pictographs respectively. It's a bit like reading an international clothing care tag, but you get used to it. The plant photos tend towards macro shots, so you'll need to find find more pictures elsewhere if you want to see the plant structure.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2009
I'm sorry, I really am, but this book is a major disappointment. There are hundreds more plants than these out in the world if you are really interested in dark or black foliage, and the images in this book are almost exclusively closeups of the flowers or foliage with zero examples of those plants in action in a planting. You'd get better results googling "black plants" or "black flowers" or "balck foliage" than by buying this book. I expected better from Timber Press, I usually drool all over their books!

I haven't returned a book to amazon or any other seller for many years, but this one didn't last 10 minutes out of the box before I printed the return label. I kid you not.

If all you want are a few closeup photos and some less-than-useful nomenclature. For example, Helleborus x hybridus is a large group of cultivars and colors - many more than than the disappointing black specimen in the photo. Good luck finding the dark flowering plant shown using the name "Helleborus x. hybridus").
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2009
A few years ago, it became fashionable to create a Chocolate Garden, a trend that continues to be popular. Plants grown in a Chocolate Garden have a chocolate fragrance and/or have very dark blooms or foliage in tones of deep purple, brown, burgundy, maroon, or near-black.

A great resource book for planning such a garden is the newly-published Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden by Paul Bonine. (Timber Press, September 2009) This little gem of a book packs a planter's punch by giving essential information on 75 stunning plants that would be appropriate for creating either a themed garden or a smaller pocket of attraction.

With each plant description, characteristics are provided that aid in making choices for the garden: soil conditions, hardiness zones, growth habits and light requirements. Suggestions are given for companion plantings that show off each plant's unique traits. On the page facing each description is a beautiful photograph of the plant.

Growing plants with such dark colors could be seen as gloomy and unexciting, but when paired with contrasting colors such as lime green, a very dramatic effect can be obtained. Black Plants provides the necessary information to create such drama, but if you never grow a single plant highlighted in this book, it's still a fascinating read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2010
The plants shown herein are really cool. Very striking in their colour. The downside is that not very many of them could be used in colder areas. I wish I knew ahead of time that I would need greenhouses for the very best plants in this book.

If you live in a year-around warm area, it might be worth it, otherwise, pick up a copy at the library before buying it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2009
Good book, beautuful images, good plant description, but unfortunately very little is said about how to take care of the plants, how to bring it to its full pottential...very generic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As the title alludes, the book contains 75 "black" plants, each with a paragraph about the plant and a large, full-bleed photo. I like that the descriptions are written in a light, conversational tone. You don't have to be a plant scholar or even know the proper way to pronounce "clematis" to enjoy reading the book and get useful information from it. Each plant description is accompanied by useful icons that tell you what zone the plant is hardy to and how much water, sunlight, etc it likes.

The plants included are a nicley curated collection of deep burgandy, midnight blue, darkest purple, and other exquisitely nearly-black colors. I appreciate that the plants are a really diverse collection. You can tell that the author tried to include a nice mix of trees, shrubs, annuals, herbaceous perennials, bulbs, etc. The plants also seem evenly divided between black foliage and black flowers.

Another nice thing about the book is its size. You might think that a book of this sort would be coffee table book size. But instead this book is about 7 inches by 6 inches and has a soft cover. I imagine that I'll put post it note flags on the plants I like and stick the book in my purse and take it with me to the nursery. The small size and light weight (along with the conversational tone and gorgeous photos) also makes the book perfect for reading in the bath while daydreaming about next year's garden.

I do have a minor quibble with the book's author though. Some of the plants in the book are not black. For example, 'Java Red' Weiglia. The leaves are described as deep green with a purplish cast, but I think it is a real stretch to call anything on the plant even remotely black. There are a couple of other similar plants in the book, but I'd say 95% of the plants are black or nearly black, the sort you'd expect to find in a book about black plants.

Along the same lines of my pettifog above, there are black varieties of certain plants that I like better than the ones chosen for the book. For example, I think 'Black Stockings' is a prettier variety of black daylily than 'Night Wings,' which is the selection included in Black Plants. 'Black Stockings' has ruffled petals and a deep yellow throat that really emphasizes the blackness of the flower. But 'Night Wings' is often referred to as the blackest daylily, so I guess it really is just personal preference.

All-in-all, this is a great book if you're looking for some black plant inspiration. And you can't beat the price. 75 full color pics for Amazon's current price of $10.17 is crazy good! Even at the list price this book is a great bargain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2011
I already have quite a collection of black plants in my garden but I found this little book to be quite useful and very informative. Information such as light and water requirements are represented by easy-to-interpret icons; plus planting zones, sizes of established plants and suggestions for companion plantings are given, along with the Latin names. Each plant is accompanied by a full-page color photograph. If you're looking for a way to really make your garden a showcase for black or dark-colored plants, this book is a great guide. Paperback; small enough to tuck into a bag when you visit the nursery to show the staff, as most of these may have to be special-ordered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2012
For the past several years, I have been fascinated with black plants. While there is a limited number of them, after purchasing this book, I realize that there are more than I originally thought. My plan is to eventually have a "black" flowerbed which will be very impressive. The book has piqued my curiosity to seek out more black plants listed in the book. While they sound strange, black plants add a very sophisticated, dramtic touch to any garden. I like the book so much that I purchased another copy for a fellow gardener who is as interested in black plants as myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a fair book. It is not possible to have an entirely black garden if black truly exists anyway. The book does expose the reader to a plethora of the easy to the difficult and as such is valid. You don't have to be goth to have this on your coffee table. Matt Cohen MD Zen of Watering Your Garden
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on February 9, 2013
My son works in the nursery field so when we saw this book, i had to order it for him. the pictures are good. Most of the plants are actually a deep purple but they are very striking in the garden setting. They represent a variety of growing zones so you will only find a few that will work for your area unless you have a greenhouse.
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