Gardening: The all blacks

By Leigh Bramwell

I'm as guilty as any columnist of writing, from time to time, that something is "the new black". But I imagine I'll be in good company for the next few weeks as those who've thought of nothing but rugby for the past six months continue to think of nothing but rugby for the next six, or 12, or however long it takes for them to get over it.

And I also imagine that in various towns and cities around New Zealand, all-black civic gardens will spring up to celebrate what was possibly the most stressful night of the year.

Planting an all-black garden will give your property added interest, it'll prove a conversation piece, and it'll trick rugby fans into thinking you know and/or care about the game.

If you want to score points in that regard, here are some suggestions.

Dianthus Carnation: The Black King

We have to start with this one. To be fair, it's really a very deep purple, but let's not be picky. A perennial, it's a compact, bushy, free-flowering plant and the flowers are ideal for bedding and cutting.

They grow to around 20cm tall and smell delicious. Plant in full sun in a border, or in pots.

Nemophila Penny Black

This hardy annual provides a continuous display of deep purple to black flowers with scalloped, silver edges. It looks like a stamp - hence the name. It's ground-hugging and grows well in sun or part shade, but needs regular watering.

Viola Black Velvet

A hardy annual, the black pansy has been flavour of the month since well before the RWC. It's an early flowering Viola and the velvety black flowers have a bright yellow eye. It's creepy, in the botanical sense of the word. Full sun or semi-shade.

Hollyhock Black

The black variety of Mallow / Hollyhock is an unusual addition to any garden border. The dried flowers make an eye-catching addition to potpourri.

Nasturtium Black Velvet

Since we like to put nasturtiums in salads, the idea of black petals is a little daunting. But the velvety black top flowering nasturtium is great for baskets, planters or as a contrasting bedding plant. Perhaps continue to grow the orange for eating.

Poppy Peony Black

No opium in this one, but glorious, oversize double poppies on big, leafy, messy plants. Use the dried seed pods in floral arrangements.

Everyone knows budding rugby players must eat fruit and vege, and if you have recalcitrant kids who eschew greens, now's your opportunity to feed them black.

Black veges are another growing trend and both black zucchini and black capsicum are now quite common. I can't imagine why you'd choose a black pepper over a red one, but each to their own. Other choices are blackberries, blueberries, black grapes, black plums, avocado, aubergine, black beans, black-eyed peas and black passionfruit.

- The Aucklander

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