Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Basic black in the garden

I'm thinking of writing more on this, but for now, consider the black petunia. Called 'Black Velvet,' it came on the market in 2011 to generally favorable reviews. Growers loved it, but there was some hesitation, too. Black - far as I know - has never been a popular color in the garden, and some folks hesitated. But this petunia really is cool.

Basic black in the garden

I'm thinking of writing more on this, but for now, consider the black petunia. Called 'Black Velvet,' it came on the market in 2011 to generally favorable reviews. Growers loved it, but there was some hesitation, too. Black - far as I know - has never been a popular color in the garden, and some folks hesitated. But this petunia really is cool.

I found it at Terrain at Styers in Chadds Ford the other day, along with 'Phantom,' another black petunia with a cream/yellow star in the center. There's at least one other black petunia - 'Pinstripe' - and a few other darkly dark flowers out there, among them hollyhocks and pansies.

Do these plants fade into the background? Get lost in the sun or mismatched too often with the wrong partners or venues? No doubt, black is tricky, but the online gurus suggest white and chartreuse flowers or foliage as good partners. (Happy to see they do not advise red.)

'Black Velvet' petunias are rather feline-like, sleek and shiny with a hint of menace. And while I don't think I'd plant them in a bed, I'm thinking they'd be wildly dramatic in containers. Meow!

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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