Lovely Rita

I haven’t made many dresses lately that I felt really suited Ellis, Willow, or Dahlia, but I finally did one this weekend that does, so they’ll be keeping it.

Rita Dress for Blythe - made especially for Ellis

Of course it’s in my own personal favorite color scheme – black/grey.

Rita Dress for Blythe - made especially for Ellis

I love this argyle ribbon! It contains pink, but in a small enough amount that it doesn’t bother me. And I really like this lace – it’s a nice accent without being very frilly. I’m also pleased with how the pleats in front worked on on the skirt. I tried to line them up with the edges of the argyle ribbon, and I think it worked.

Rita Dress for Blythe - made especially for Ellis


tall plants

And finally, the tall plants, things that are four or more feet high. With the plants I’ve been looking at (of all heights), I am going to have to make some choices – not all of them will go in, at least not at first. I’m sure that along the years I’ll also find new things to add.

Purple : Black Knight Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) : 6-10′ : full sun to part shade : shrub : blooms midsummer to fall
Black Knight Butterfly Bush
from Michigan Bulb, Spring Hill Nursery

Black : Black Beauty Sambucus, Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) : 8-12′ : full sun to part shade : shrub : blooms midsummer
Black Beauty Sambucus, Elderberry
from Dutch Gardens, Jung Seed

Black with white flowers : Currant Consort Black (Ribes nigrum ‘Consort’) : 3-6′ : part sun
Currant Consort Black
from Burpee, Nature Hills Nursery

Black : Black Magic Hollyhock : 4-6′ : full sun : blooms June-August
Black Magic Hollyhock
from Gurney’s, Michigan Bulb

Purple : Helmond Pillar Barberry (Berberis thunbergii Helmond Pillar) : 4-6′ : shrub : full sun
Helmond Pillar Barberry
from Jung Seed, Spring Hill Nursery

Purple (white flowers) : Purple Leaf Plum Hedge (Prunus x cistena) : 6-8′ : part sun : shrub : flowers early spring
purple leaf plum hedge
from Four Seasons Nurseries, Spring Hill Nursery, Direct Gardening


medium plants

And we’re on to the medium plants, things that grow to be between one and four feet tall. I’m also still just going for perennials – annuals and bulbs will wait for me to figure out the rest of the primary plan.

Purple and white : Purple snakeroot : (Actaea simplex) Atropurpurea Group : up to 4′ : part shade : clumps : blooms late summer
from ??

Purple and white : Spiny bear’s breeches (Acanthus spinosus) : 2-4′ : full sun to part shade : clumps : blooms mid-summer
Acanthus spinosus
from ??

White : astilbe (Astilbe japonica) : 2-3′ : part sun to full shade : clumps : blooms early to mid-summer
Astilbe Snowcap
from Burpee, Bluestone Perennials, Michigan Bulb, Spring Hill Nursery

Silver : Money Plant : 24-30″ : sun to part shade : clumps : blooms in spring
Honesty Money Plant Lunaria
from Burpee

Silver :  Blue Girl hybrid tea rose : 3-4′ : full sun to part shade : blooms summer to fall
Blue Girl rose
from Michigan Bulb, Direct Gardening

Silver : Blue Sea Holly (Eryngium alpinum) : 24-30″ : full sun : blooms mid to late summer
Blue Sea Holly
from Michigan Bulb, Breck’s, Spring Hill Nursery

purple : Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) : 18-24″ : full sun : mounds : blooms summer
from Michigan Bulb, Spring Hill Nursery

Black : Green Wizard Coneflower (Rudbeckia, Echinacea) : 24-36″ : full sun : blooms mid-summer to mid-fall
Green Wizard Coneflower
from Breck’s

Purple : Salvia Caradonna (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’) : 20″ : full sun : mound-shaped : blooms early summer to early fall
Salvia Caradonna
from Park Seed

Purple : Black Barlow Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) : 24-28″ : full to part sun : clumps : blooms late spring to early summer
Black Barlow Columbine
from Dutch Gardens, Spring Hill Nursery

Black : Classic German Iris Sambuca : 35-37″ : full sun to part shade : blooms mid-spring
Classic German Iris Sambuca
from Henry Field’s

Black (white flowers) : Ebony King Blackberry (Rubus ‘Ebony King’): 3-4′ : full sun : flowers early summer
Ebony King Blackberry
from Michigan Bulb, Nature Hills Nursery

Silver/Purple : Burgundy Lace Fern (Athyrium n. var. pictum ) : 12-18″ : part to full shade
burgundy lace fern
from Jung Seed, Dutch Gardens

Purple : Amethyst Myst Heuchera (Heuchera) : 10″ with 20-26″ flower stems : part sun to full shade : blooms late spring to early summer
amyethyst myst heuchera
from Jung Seed, Dutch Gardens


even more black plant possibilities

I’m finding that there are a lot of black plant options to choose from. It’s going to be a challenge to narrow it down, especially when I consider all the options in the other colors I’d like to include.

Herbs are definitely a big part of the plan for the front yard. Some of them will be annuals I’ll plant from seed, while others I hope will stick around year after year. One of those that I think will be an annual will be this Basil Dark Opal:
basil dark opal
Not only will it look pretty, it should also be pretty tasty. I love the idea of flavoring olive oil with it. Mmm.

I’m not focusing too much on flowers at this point, but this Classic German Iris Sambuca is gorgeous:
Classic German Iris Sambuca
I’m thinking that against a backdrop of something with white or silver foliage, that would be very striking.

Currants are a berry I’m not very familiar with but am interested to learn more about.
Currant Consort Black
This Currant Consort Black will fit right in and will hopefully provide some tasty snacks (apparently you can dry them).

I’m not sure if I have a spot for something this tall, but this Black Magic Hollyhock would be stunning.
Black Magic Hollyhock
I wonder if it’s the kind of thing you can train or prune to make it fit in a not-so-tall space?


more black plant ideas

Okay, so apparently the Black Elephant Ear I mentioned last post won’t be hardy here in zone 6, so that’s out. I’m not willing to dig things up and winter them indoors, so whatever I plant had better be able to live on its own all year long.

Black Beauty Sambucus, Elderberry
This Black Beauty Sambucus, Elderberry, has gorgeous black foliage and while I’m not so much into the pink flowers, they wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me. This one can get pretty big, but it appears that I could trim it back each year and keep it in check.

This Green Wizard Coneflower is sort of strange to me – it looks like the part of a flower that is left after the petals have fallen off – but I do like it.
Green Wizard Coneflower
It’s weird, but I like weird.

I’ve had very good luck with Asiatic lilies in the past and this Landini Lily will be a perfect addition to this color scheme.
Landini Lily
This type of lily is so self-sufficient and willing to spread and be more impressive every year. A winner for sure. I imagine I’ll throw in some white lilies, too.

There are apparently a bunch of varieties of hyacinth available in very dark hues: King of the Blues, Marie, and Menelik:
King of the Blues hyacinth Marie hyacinth Menelik hyacinth
I’m not sure which I’d like best.

This Black Scallop Bugleweed looks like a good candidate for borders.
Black Scallop Bugleweed
It also theoretically makes a good ground cover and weed-choker-out-er, which would be quite useful.

Since I’m going for a purple/black silver/white color scheme, I think this Salvia Caradonna will fit in nicely.
Salvia Caradonna
It will also offer some medium height (20″) and apparently blooms twice!


front yard plans: black plants

Now that it’s the new year and the hope of spring is on the way, it’s time for me to really start figuring out what our front yard re-landscaping project will look like. This past year we undertook the Summer of Smother, during which we covered the entire front lawn in newspaper and mulch so that this spring we can till and start all over with a blank slate. (I’m actually hoping to hire someone to do the actual tilling since it’s not the easiest task and I am a major wuss.)

With the help of my awesome sistrah, I’ve created a basic layout for the yard – the plan for what shape the beds will eventually take. I recognize that the whole thing is way too much to do in one year, so my next step is to figure out a general idea of what plants I want where and then decide what portion to tackle this year. I’ll fill in the majority of the space with thyme and/or other herbs and then remove what I need to when I’m ready in future years. I’ll still be putting in a veggie garden in the back yard beds, so I need to be realistic about how much I can accomplish altogether.

My general color scheme for the front landscaping is black/purple/white/silver. Our house is off-white brick with a black roof, and we hope to eventually paint the trim and shutters black to give the exterior a more cohesive look (right now the shutters and trim are an icky rust color which we definitely do not want love). I’ve read that keeping a limited color palette will give the garden a more professional look, so here’s hoping.

So, for black plants, here are a few thoughts.

I do want to include edibles where I can, though for the front yard I’d like to stick primarily to perennials so that will limit the edible options substantially. I love blackberries, though the plant would only fit into the color scheme when the fruit is ripe.
Ebony King Blackberry
This Ebony King Blackberry is thornless, which is a bonus (though perhaps since our front yard is unfenced, thorns would be helpful to keep critters from stealing the fruit?).

With the whole colony collapse disorder thing resulting in fewer bees hanging around, I’d like to include plenty of plants that attract pollinators.
Black Knight Butterfly Bush
This Black Knight Butterfly Bush would definitely do that and while, again, the foliage wouldn’t fit into my color scheme, I think it would be worth it.

With a name like Dark Lord Geranium, how could I not include this one?
Dark Lord Geranium
I mean, seriously, a plant with purple-highlighted foliage that also has purple blooms AND is a Star Wars reference? No question.

We don’t have too many spaces out front where we need a lot of height, but there is the awkward little side area that runs next to our neighbor’s driveway and is right outside our bedroom window. I think a screen of this Black Bamboo would be perfect:
Black Bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra
It would provide some privacy as it got taller, and would also help define the boundary between the neighbor’s property and ours. The only hitch is that it is theoretically for zone 7-10, and we’re zone 6. I’m not sure how big an issue that might be.

I’m really seeking some plants with lots of beautiful foliage, now we’re cooking:
Black Elephant Ear, Taro, Colocasia
This Black Elephant Ear is great! I love the large leaves and the way the veins are slightly lighter in color. I could see this taking a significant role in the new front yard.

I do also want some flowering plants, and this Black Barlow Columbine is striking:
Black Barlow Columbine
It supposedly attracts hummingbirds, which would be neat to see.

These are just a few of the plants I’m considering. If anyone out there has experience with any of these particular plants or has any other suggestions, I’m all ears.