22 February 2016

A Post-Valentine Chocolate Treat

 First, a weather report. Last year this time we were buried in snow, and we remained that way for the better part of two months. Today--there is only snow in the plowed piles, in ditches and woods and places like that. The back yard is bare. The birds are singing like crazy. The cats are starting to shed--and they're indoor cats so I am a little surprised. We know full well we're not out of the woods yet, weather wise, but we'll take this little hiatus and be happy with it.

Now, on to the weekly gathering of Fleur photos. Last week was preempted by posting about the orchid show so we're doing the Valentine's post the same way some people buy chocolate and flowers--after the event. But these aren't plants from the half-price bin. Not at all.

Because I love chocolate, and because I love unusually-coloured flowers, I am naturally drawn to have a collection of chocolate-coloured perennials. I don't have Akebia, the chocolate vine, but I have a number of plants that are either chocolate-y in colour, or include the word in their name, or both. We'll start with the photo at the top of this post, Digitalis 'Milk Chocolate'. I haven't had this plant since moving to Wolfville, but a friend has told me of a mutual acquaintance who will happily share seedlings with me. Happy day!

There are a number of daylilies that include chocolate in their name, but I don't have any of them. So the closest I can offer from my personal collection is 'Black Arrowhead', which I quite love. A friend has 'Teddy Bear's Picnic', which is described as having light chocolate flowers with a deeper colour. I'll stick with mine, floriferous and easy going as it is. It looks great with the orange Asclepias, too. 

I love the ease of baptisas: they are deer resistant, for those troubled by Bambi, they don't get aphids the way their relatives the lupins do, and they make a shrub-like plant with glossy foliage and great seedheads. This variety is called 'Decadence Dutch Chocolate' and I had to have it when I found it last year. You probably will, too. Just be patient with it--Baptisias can take a couple years to settle in unless you buy 2nd- or 3rd-year plants.

This hellebore is one of the so-called 'black' ones, and it is just gorgeous. I believe this is 'Onyx Odyssey' but there are at least several others that are equally dark and delightful. My hellebores are all sleeping quietly beneath some evergreen boughs, but I did notice buds forming before I mulched them. Something to look forward to!

You're no doubt wondering why this white-flowered perennial is part of the mix. It's 'Chocolate' boneset (Eupatorium), so called because its foliage is a bronzy-chocolate-green shade. It's a late, late bloomer, often the last perennial to flower in my garden. Late pollinators love it, too.

The chocolate cosmos is a delightful thing that actually does smell of chocolate! It's an interesting annual that forms tubers in the soil, and can be overwintered and planted the following year. It blooms and blooms and blooms, especially if you remember to deadhead the spent flower stems. And yes, the scent is lovely.

Despite its gorgeous deep chocolate colour, Salpiglossis 'Chocolate Royale' does not have any fragrance. But we'll forgive it because of that striking colour (and it loks so great with the kangaroo paw planted beside it). 

 The name of this sunflower wasn't attached to the photo when I went searching through my files, but it is either 'Chocolate Cherry' or else just 'Chocolate'. I don't have it anymore, and haven't seen seeds locally, but since I never met a sunflower of any colour that I didn't adore, it's okay. I haven't looked too hard for seeds since I am so busy there's not a lot of time for planting seeds!

With last week's post about orchids, I put up a photo of Oncidium 'Sharry Baby' orchid, and mentioned that it is definitely chocolate scented. Several friends have been here while it's been blooming and now can attest for themselves the divine fragrance of the plant. 

That's all for this week, as we're really busy getting the next issue of Saltscapes magazine ready to go to print. Also, we're only two months away from the 12th annual Saltscapes East Coast Expo, so there's lots going on. Before we know it, it really WILL be spring. 


  1. You have quite a collection of chocolate there in your garden! I've grown the cosmos several times, just for the fun factor.


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