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Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden Paperback – September 16, 2009
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“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
“Go ahead, open the cover, creep through the screeching gate. The plants inside are no nightmare. More like a dream.” —The Oregonian
“Rather than cast gloom, these plants can add mystery, depth, and sophistication to the garden.” —Houston Chronicle
“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.” —Pacific Horticulture
“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.” —Chicago Tribune
“Black works great for cocktail dresses and luxury cars, but in the flower garden? Absolutely.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“An invaluable guide for those leaning towards the opinion that black is the new green.” —Financial Times
“Some of the names are frightening, but their stories are enlightening.” —Indianapolis Star
“Your garden might never be the same.” —Akron Beacon Journal
“The addition of these striking shrubs, perennials and annuals will add depth and drama to the landscape.” —Detroit News
“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.” —Anchorage Daily News
About the Author
Paul Bonine is a garden writer, lecturer, and co-owner of the wholesale and retail specialty plant nursery Xera Plants, in Portland, Oregon. A lifelong plantsman, Bonine has worked in the nursery industry for nearly twenty years and has consulted for NPR, the Sunset Western Garden Book, and The Oregonian.
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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.
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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