14 February 2008

Chocolate (plants) for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's day, for those inclined to celebrate it. In between weather tantrums here and some electrical and internet interruptions, I skipped over to the Canadian weather website to have a look, and look at this! My country is turning itself into a Valentine! Those red provinces and territories all indicate weather warnings. That's us over here on the east coast (right hand side of the image, the last piece attached to the continent). The only places not indicating severe weather right now are southern Ontario, British Columbia and...Saskatchewan? Whew...Kate must be getting a bit of a respite. Here, we've gone from snowstorm this morning to torrential rains tonight. It's enough to make a person completely scream, and reach for the chocolate.

What do you mean, there's no chocolate in the house at the moment? Okay, what about outside?

Last spring, I started building a chocolate and wine garden. These are two of my favourite things, although I don't allow myself much of either. Wine clashes with a prescription I must take, and chocolate--well, I like high quality dark chocolate, and that gets pricy. So to feed my craving another way, I thought it would be fun to put in some chocolate and wine themed plants. We won't bother with the wine plants right now, but come along and have a look at what's tempting for the chocolate lovers among us.

One of the first plants I got that had chocolate in its name is Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'. Also known as Joe-pye weed and mistflower, this is a highly recommended plant for butterfly gardens. I find it likes it a little drier than its native kin, but it's done nicely for us.

There are so many heucheras out there, and many of them have food-connected names--I think those are usually from Terra Nova Plants out in Oregon. This one is 'Frosted Violet', and a star performer it's been for me; it grew enormously this past year and looked great right into autumn--though I haven't seen it for several months due to the big drifts of snow covering it--and most of this part of the garden!

If you're craving more chocolate and more heuchera, look no further than 'Chocolate Ruffles' heuchera. There seems to be a bit of variation in how rich the colour shows in this plant, but I'm quite smitten with heucheras so I don't care--it settled in nicely and next year who knows what it will look like?

I love most cranesbills, with one of my favourite being Geranium phaeum, the mourning widow cranesbill. The deep chocolatey flowers last a long time, and last year I got my hands on G.p. 'Springtime', which has marvelously coloured foliage too.

New to me last summer was the 'Chocolate Stars' corydalis (C. quantmayerana). It didn't flower much, but I was so fascinated with its foliage, I was okay with that. You know how I am about foliage--it's as important to me as flowers, and sometimes, even more important.

Now this plant IS all about the flowers; chocolate foxglove, Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate'. Isn't it delightful? A friend of mine has had this plant for several years, but it wasn't multiplying enough to share with me, so I was really, really happy to find a couple of plants at a nursery in Antigonish. I should have bought them all, although I'm told it grows decently from seed. Anyone try that yet?

Too much chocolate can be a bit overwhelming, even cloying, so if not a good glass of wine to temper it, how about a good Espresso? In this case, it's 'Espresso' cranesbill. I don't remember this flowering last year, but I didn't care about it flowering--it's all about the foliage, this time again!

An interesting plant that I've found slow to develop in our garden is Rodgersia. I have the common variety but also this unusual and fun 'Chocolate Wings'. It doesn't get tall, which may be why I thought it was being slow--it spreads to about three feet but only grows less than a foot tall. It doesn't matter, though--its colour is so great, if I find it hasn't spread much when I see it in spring, I'll go get a couple more plants!

From Renee's Seeds came the wonderful Chocolate Cherry sunflower. It's pollen free, so I don't expect any selfseeding to happen; I have a few seeds left from last year but can always get more.

Don't you love columbines? Of all sorts, from species to hybrids, from the modest Granny's Bonnets to the huge, longspurred showoff types? This is Black Barlow, one of my favourites, although my most favourite is the wild red columbine. It doesn't work in the chocolate garden, but Black Barlow does!

And one more plant that doesn't have chocolate in its name, but does put on a great show of deep, richly coloured flowers: Dianthus 'Sooty'. I apologize for the quality of this image; I can't find the photos I took of mine, and I pulled tis from a seedsite somewhere online last year--and can't figure out where! This year, however, I'll get more photos and be more organized about categorizing them all.

What I don't have here is any of the chocolate scented plants (other than chocolate mint--and that's in a container) like Chocolate cosmos or chocolate vine. So far, anyway--this IS, after all, a work in progress. And some might dispute having a purple or copper beech in the chocolate garden, but the foliage is just so rich and dark--even when the leaves change colour in fall, they turn a nice light bronzed chocolate colour. So it works for me. It's my garden and I'll plant what I wanna, right?

That's about it for here for tonight. Because I'm shutting down the computers before I go to bed to read, I've pushed the date ahead a couple of hours--I hope everyone has a lovely Valentine's day, in spite of whatever weather tantrums you might also be enduring!


  1. You might be a bit jealous when I tell you that we have a native Chocolate Lily! It has scented mauve flowers, but to my mind they smell more like a mixture of chocolate and vanilla. The root is edible, apparently. Enjoy your chocolates!

  2. Yum, Jodi! Thanks for the plant candy. I would like to recommend heuchera 'Brownie' to your list of chocolate themed plants since you like heucheras. Also, that corydalis grows wild here in the woodland slope. I have been trying to identify it, feeling it was some kind of corydalis, thanks for the name! Happy V-Day!
    Frances at Faire Garden

  3. What a splendid idea for a post on Valentine Day - chocolate! I really enjoyed reading it and that foxglove of your - Milk Chocolate - was really something.
    Wishing a nice Valentine Day!

  4. Great post Jodi. I'm also smitten by Heucheras - I always say to myself at gardening shows - 'don't buy anything, you haven't the room' and come away with at least 3new ones! I particularly like the darker leaved ones like 'Chocolate Ruffles', and also 'Liquorice', 'Ebony and Ivory' and 'Obsidian'. I think they've all come from your neck of the woods originally?

  5. Wine and chocolate, 2 of my favorite things also. :-D

    I was hoping to see the chocolate cosmos here - I've never seen it in person and wonder if it really truly is chocolate-scented.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  6. Jodi: Now I am craving chocolate! Great plant choices. Love the texture and color of the Rodgersia! That is a great idea for a garden theme and here I have been thinking of planting 'The Garden of Death' with poisonous plants. Do you think maybe winter has gone on just a bit too long? LOL Maybe I'll call it 'The Garden of Everlasting Life'! That sounds a bit more positive!

  7. Hi,

    I love your blog...and I loved this entry. Your rodgersia choclate wings is stunning. I decided I must look into it, and came across this site:

    Flowers and edible plants with a chocolate theme!


  8. What a yummy post, Jodi. Love your chocolate and wine garden. Watch out for that Joe Pye Weed, there's a reason it's called a weed-it's very invasive.

  9. Yummmm, chocolate is great when served up this way. Happy Day to you too.

  10. I adore the idea of a chocolate and wine garden--but then I love theme gardens of all types. The chocolate cherry sunflower really sets it off, as does the Black Barlow.

    This is a good example that not all plants have to be green to be beautiful.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  11. Yum! I have three baby trees in my front yard that would go with your theme. "White Chocolate" Crepe Myrtle,
    Lagerstroemia indica 'White Chocolate'. They're from Monrovia: http://www.monrovia.com/PlantInf.nsf/715018c0a554020088256f1600604920/8d7142e4616a23e488256c720076fd52!OpenDocument

  12. I said hell with the fire last night and went to bed early even though we are having temps hovering around zero (F). This morning I was sorry. The house temp dropped to 43 F and my better half wasn't too happy with me. Having to take a shower in the cold wasn't her idea of a romantic start to Valentine's Day.

    Good thing I stopped by here this morning and got the hint - some real dark chocolate always makes her happy.

  13. Oh... Jodi, I love this post :-D

    Plant names are just wonderful aren't they especially with the heucheras. I've a few tasty varieties here too :-D

    I am thinking about adding cosmos myself this year and planting it through some ornamental grasses. It is very difficult to pick a favourite from your fantastic selection of plants above! My pick is the 'Milk Chocolate' Digitalis - I am now going to search out seed for this one :-D

    I hope the weather gets kinder to you - enjoy the rest of your day :-D

  14. Yummy! I'll have to send Kara here to read this, because she's putting in a chocolate garden this spring. After looking at all your goodies, that sounds like a great idea to me, too! I used to have Joe Pye Weed 'Chocolate' but it didn't survive the winter after I'd planted it. I'm not sure why since the species ones are native here, but oh well.
    I love that Rodgersia! Great texture!

  15. Hi Jodi !
    Happy Valentine's Day (Hubby's Birthday too) made a birthday cake that is more icing than cake .. go figure .. who knew Angel Food ? cake would sink under so much icing .. haha
    One of the posters mentioned that site I love as well chocolateflower farm .. amazing how many "chocolate" theme plants there are .. I have a few the same as you .. planted Sweet William "Sooty" just this last year .. hoping to see some gorgeous dark flowers from it this year .. IF Spring comes .. do you believe the banner that says 36 days ????? haha
    If I had the room I would love to steal your idea of the chocolate and wine only ! garden .. : )

  16. Ah - love the looking forward pics - I love winter but looking forward to some flowers pretty soon. I have some of the same plants and I can't wait until they poke their heads up above ground again.

  17. What a great blog you have, it's my first time here! I love chocolate too.. just have some in my mouth this very minute, a gift from my hubby. That's a lovely idea, the chocolate and wine garden, sounds sinful!
    I had "sooty" myself for several years, but it seems to have disappeared these last 2 years. Must get more someday, they were beautiful and unique flowers.

  18. So many chocolate plants--I am surprised! Better a plant any day than a box of candy, right?

    Aren't you glad we saved some of that storm for you? We had 8 inches of snow before the rain started here.

    You know layanne, me, Giddy, from Garden Gnomes, and you usually get the same storms. Must be the jet stream path.

  19. Delicious eye candy. I love the color and texture of the Rodgersia. I have a chocolate vine. It's a slow grower (here anyway). I bought it for the name, hoping my wife would take some interest in the garden. Even chocolate in the garden doesn't help.

  20. That map looks downright scary. Very colourful though.

    I love your chocolate garden - the flowers are all lovely. I especially like the 'Espresso' Geranium and the Rodgersia.

  21. Okay... now I GOTTA have some of those foxgloves! They are gorgeous!!!!!

    I just put in a new bareroot rose called Hot Cocoa (have been wanting it for some time now). I also have a scented geranium that's chocolate.

    Have you ever used cocoa mulch in your garden? It makes the whole garden smell like hot chocolate when you dampen it because its the hulls of cocoa beans. So decadent!

    Okay... now I gotta go get some chocolate chips! ;)

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  22. Jodi. I am toying with the idea of "theme" gardens and yours is a great one. I loved all the pictures and the names. Do you have anything mixed in with these to offset or showcaes the dark colors? Or maybe you do it rocks, statues, etc. Any way a Great Valentine Post!

  23. Okay, I now have grown my wishlist exponentially... lol. I especially adore that 'Espresso' geranium, Jodi. Lovely foliage!

  24. I was eating chocolate when I read this, really. Lots of good ideas here!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  25. Sorry I've been so slow about responding to comments lately. Between deadlines, reading blogs and leaving comments there, and oh yes, storms and internet interruptions, it's been a bizarre week. I'm supposed to be working right now, but thought I'd update a bit.

    Chookie...if I meet too many more Australian bloggers with awesome plants and climates, I might have to move therre! Chocolate lily...sounds divine. There's a chocolate orchid which is quite nice, too.

    Frances, good recommendation on the heuchera! Lucky you to have that corydalis growing wild...

    Katarina, welcome and glad you enjoyed the post. It's no longer Valentine's day in Sweden but from your post I know you were having a good day too.

    VP, I love Obsidian too! And Ginger Ale...and Sparkling Burgundy...and Peach Melba...and and and... there are alumroots that grow wild in some parts of North America, but I've never seen any here.

    Entangled, chocolate cosmos IS chocolate scented. I had it one year, remembered to dig it up in the fall (not hardy here) but something dined on it in the basement, and I haven't found it locally since.

    Layanee, so good to have you back from your trip! Garden of Death, eh? My next theme garden will be a Dr. Suess garden, as some of us have discussed in the past!

    Hi JB, glad you stopped by. I have visited the pages of Chocolate Flower Farm, and got drool in my keyboard...always messy!

    Carolyn, you find the chocolate Eupatorium invasive? It hasn't moved for me and it's very slow to grow (probably the climate checks it); other eupatoriums are native here and I am gradually establishing them down by our wild pond. They're late emerging, though, and I find I forget to go dig them from the woodlot until they're too tall to move happily.

    Lisa, my long suffering spouse brought me home some chocolate today--but more importantly, he cleaned the house! Now THAT was a Valentine's present (I'm on deadline!)

    Robin, theme gardens ARE fun, aren't they? I'd like to do a couple more...one of these days.

    Nancy, this weather has been INSANE. The snow dropped at least two feet but there's a glacier out by the barn, and one very, VERY pissed-off horse in the barn, kicking the walls in his displeasure.

    Ahava, splendid sounding choices although I don't think they're hardy here. I'll just enjoy yours!

    Oh, John...bad plan on letting the fire out, wasn't it? I let ours go out but we have oil for backup, so it wasn't bad. Dark chocolate is always a cure for most things, though.

    Shirl, if my spotty memory serves me, Thompson and Morgan may have Milk Chocolate digitalis. The chocolate cosmos comes from a tuber, and isn't hardy here, but it might come back for you.

    Kylee, I think Chocolate boneset is just a little bit more finicky about wet; I lost one that was in a site where things get really soggy, but the one I have now is just fine. And yes, 'Rodger' is a star!

    Joy, you should do well with Sooty this year, for sure; mine flowered the first year I had it because I bought it as plants from a nursery in Shelburne. Can't help myself.

    Dlyn, welcome...we're all a bit winterweary, except for those in the southern Hemisphere who are savouring summer pleasures. ONe of these days, spring will come.

    Salix, welcome! Chocolate and wine makes for a fun garden, for sure. I'm going to grow sooty from seed but also get more plants--I like immediate gratification, sometimes, where plants are concerned.

    Oh yes, Sandy, we SO needed that storm. But what was annoying was that the one yesterday went from snow to rain--torrential rain--and now we have ice in a lot of the yard. It is to scream! You're right about the storms--I'm sure it is the Jet Stream (I call it the jet scream, sometimes)

    Jim, that's too bad that chocolate in the garden doesn't help entice your wife to it. My hubby is very good about helping me, and that makes it more fun.

    Kate, I'm with you on the foliage, as you know...hope to put in more interesting plants this year; I have a few for the 'wine' side of the garden, but there can always be more.

    Cindy, I've seen the Hot Cocoa rose in literature but wouldn't try it up here. I did have a chocolate geranium at one time (wonder what I did with it?) And completely forgot! Last year was the first time I saw cocoa bean mulch locally, so I got several bags of it. The only thing is it gets a bit mildewy in the fog here, but the smell is fabulous otherwise.

    Becky, the 'wine' plants in the garden and a few gold-foliaged plants help to set off the chocolate plants. There's Chardonay Pearls Deutzia; Nugget Ninebark (both with gold foliage); a few other gold-foliaged plants, and some daylilies with bright flowers too. But it's all a work in progress, so there'll be more this year.

    Kim, I thoughtyou might like the geranium! It's a winner.

    Carol...it's time for tea and a little chocolate here, as I have 'miles to go before I sleep' yet tonight. Might be late wiht my bloom day post too....

  26. beautiful plants....especially the Heucheras
    My favorite chocolate smelling flower is Berlandiera lyrata-an insignificant yellow daisy but it smells more "chocolately" than Chocolate Cosmos.And its hardier.
    And my favorite "wine flower is Callirhoe involucrata- one of its common names is winecups!

  27. Thats one form of chocolate one can indulge in with any guilt. I love your chocolate garden. Sounds yummy.

  28. Yummy, choccies and wine, just what the doctor ordered! ;-)

    Love that foliage on the Corydalis and the cranesbill too. With foliage like that, who needs flowers?

    I was waiting for the chocolate cosmos to pop up on your post. What a pity you've lost it. I found one two years ago and I love both the colour of the flowers and that wonderful chocolate-y scent. Divine!

    I hope that bad weather goes away soon! It's high time you had some decent weather, if you ask me. ;-)

  29. Jodi, I loved the Chocolate post! Best of all that Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate' has been giving me CRS all week and now I finally know it's name. Too bad I didn't take my own photo of it as I have dozens of them all over the place.

    Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day.

  30. Hi Jodi,
    I love your blog! On Valentine's Day I always treat myself to dark chocolate. Thank you for your comment on my blog. If you ever do get to Fairfax; consider a visit to Goochland (about 1 1/2 hour drive).
    Thanks, Louisa

  31. imagine an edible chocolate garden . .
    happy valentines to you!

  32. Now that is decadent chocolate for sure. I don't really have enough room for theme gardens, I hope that changes some day.

  33. I'm glad to hear that the Eupatorium isn't invasive. I had to get rid of the straight species because of its excessive seeding. Maybe this 1 will work for me. I'd like to try that yummy Geranium. I killed another dark leaved form, 'Elizabeth Ann.' Maybe this 1 will do better.
    And Jodi, I got these dark chocolates that are made to be eaten with red wine. According to the label, different wines bring out different flavors in the chocolate, which should be held in the mouth while sipping the wine. (Can you tell I also love wine & chocolate?)

  34. Jodi I am sold on the idea. Now I need to find a corner in the garden for my chocolate factory. I love that Rodgersia the foliage is magnificent

  35. Clever idea! Last year I planted a "Chocolate Drop Coleus" in a pot on the deck. It went "ballistic!" (I loved it!). My post of Oct. 1, 2007.

    What will you do this year? :-)

  36. Hi Jodi, sorry I did not see this post before or I would have mentioned it in my Garden Rant post. The nursery I wrote about does carry a lot of these plants. I do think that a strong contrast nearby is the only way to handle the dark-foliaged ones.


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