The Mountain Gardener: Chocolate a boon to any garden
by Jan Nelson
Aug 01, 2013 | 3128 views | 0 0 comments | 73 73 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chocolate-colored flowers from the Chocolate Flower Farm in Langley on Whidbey Island. The fragrance was delicious and the plants delectable. Beautiful destination nursery set in green rolling pastures. Courtesy of Jan Nelson
Chocolate-colored flowers from the Chocolate Flower Farm in Langley on Whidbey Island. The fragrance was delicious and the plants delectable. Beautiful destination nursery set in green rolling pastures. Courtesy of Jan Nelson
slideshow
Chocolate-colored flowers from the Chocolate Flower Farm in Langley on Whidbey Island. The fragrance was delicious and the plants delectable. Beautiful destination nursery set in green rolling pastures. Courtesy of Jan Nelson
Chocolate-colored flowers from the Chocolate Flower Farm in Langley on Whidbey Island. The fragrance was delicious and the plants delectable. Beautiful destination nursery set in green rolling pastures. Courtesy of Jan Nelson
slideshow
Gardeners are always on the look out for new plants. I recall when I worked at a nursery looking over the showy dahlia shipment for the one that was a deeper, more vivid shade than all the rest. One color that always gets my attention is chocolate. Whether I find it in the foliage of a plant or the flower itself, it's one of my favorites. You can imagine my delight when I discovered the Chocolate Flower Farm in Langley on Whidbey Island, Wash. while I was visiting the Puget Sound recently. I was a kid in the candy store.

As a landscape designer I often get requests for certain colors to be included in the plant palette. Mahogany, burgundy, deep magenta, midnight blue and eggplant often make the list. Many people like dark flowers or foliage paired with ivory, others prefer peach or chartreuse. I marveled at all the combinations at the Chocolate Flower Farm.

Some plants are the color of chocolate and some smell like the real thing. Chocolate cosmos look and smell just like a dark chocolate bar. The warmth of the day releases this delicious fragrance. A favorite flower for the perennial bed it's always a winner with kids.

In addition to chocolate cosmos, a wildflower called chocolate flower, or berlandiera lyrata, grew at the farm. I also enjoyed the fragrance of warm chocolate in the flowers of chocolate akebia, chocolate mint and chocolate snakeroot.

Strolling the grassy paths at the Chocolate Flower Farm I admired a Sparkling Burgundy pineapple lily. The foliage, nearly black, glistened in the sun growing next to a white-flowering Nine Bark called Summer Wine.

Nearby a clump of two-tone chocolate and ivory daylilies bloomed. With grazing horses nearby and a dozen ducks taking turns bathing in a kiddie pool, the scene was idyllic. At every turn a different pairing of chocolate flowers and foliage caught my attention.

One section featured plants for a kids chocolate garden. Easy to grow chocolate pincushion flower, chocolate viola, chocolate nasturtium, chocolate snapdragon, chocolate sunflower and chocolate painted tongue would be fun for any child to tend in their own garden. 

I loved a penstemon called Chocolate Drop, as well as a Mahogany monarda that was the color of deepest magenta. Blooming black sweet peas grew up and over an old bed frame. A dark purple-black clematis from Russia called Negritanka intertwined with lime green hops covering an arbor. Toffee Twist sedge, Royal Purple smokebush, Chocolate Sundae dahlia, Sweet Hot Chocolate daylily, Chocolate Plant and Hot Cocoa roses grew in many of the flower beds.

What makes dark foliage or dark flowers pop? At The Chocolate Farm each bed pairs the deep rich chocolate color with another contrasting shade. I don't know which was my favorite. One area featured peach, pink and silver to offset the darker shades. Pink dahlia and fairy wand, blue oat grass and rose colored sedum 'Autumn Joy' made a lovely vignette. Another bed paired the yellow flowers of phygelius 'Moonraker' and digitalis grandiflora with white anemone and ivory dahlias set among Chocolate Baby New Zealand flax.

Not to be ignored the dark chocolate shade of black sambucus growing next to a golden Himalayan Pheasant Berry made an impression. All-gold Japanese Forest grass at the base of dark leaved Tropicana canna lily was also a show stopper.

If you are up on Whidbey Island, the Chocolate Flower Farm is a great place to spend an afternoon. If your vacation plans don't include the Pacific Northwest, plant some chocolate in your own garden.

- Jan Nelson, a landscape designer and California certified nursery professional, will answer questions about gardening in the Santa Cruz Mountains. E-mail her at janis001@aol.com, or visit www.jannelsonlandscapedesign.com to view past columns and pictures.

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet


We encourage your online comments in this public forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a forum for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Readers may report such inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at pbeditor@pressbanner.com.