petunia nera fiori

An extravagant garden – dark elegance

by Marta Meggiolaro.

The dark colours, well dosed and mixed with other shades, add a touch of surprise and characterize even the most anonymous corners: 10 plants that will always make the garden new and truly capable of surprising.

It is often the less popular things that hide the most fascinating gems. It also applies to flowers: the favorite color in Italy is red, followed by blue and then pink, white and yellow. But it is in the most unusual nuances – violet, purple and black – that you can find that pinch of novelty capable of making every green space an astonishing “anthology”. The dark tones create, on an optical level, games of depth that attract the eye and the contrast between the color of the flowers and that of the leaves makes flowerbeds and paths more lively. From this perspective, another little-considered space is the one at the foot of the trees which becomes, with the right mix, more interesting thanks to a play of light and dark.

With these unique characteristics, from an aesthetic point of view, there are both low (suitable as “undergrowth”) and tall species which, placed along a hedge, become the focal points of a garden worthy of “Alice in Wonderland”, bizarre to right point because it was made with unexpected nuances. If cleverly placed alongside other shades, in contrast or degradé, they become an extravagant, whimsical and surprising hint. A guaranteed “wow” effect.


Extremely elegant, the black double Ellen Hellebore has a double corolla of dark petals that creates a crown around the very light pistil. An undergrowth plant that needs to be placed in partial shade. It is truly beautiful and stands out most when paired with pink or mottled varieties.

Hellebore double Ellen black.
double black hellebore


It is a tuberous plant that can exceed one and a half meters in height, while the leaves reach sixty centimeters in length: for this reason its nickname is “elephant’s ear”. The very dark color of the leaves creates a magnificent contrast with the white flowers, which bloom in summer. Colocasia Black Magic is a plant that loves heat and sunny positions.

Colocasia Black Magic.
colocasia black magic


Dahlias offer splendid combinations, and you can choose varieties that favor dark leaves, which become a scenographic backdrop for the bright colors of the flowers, or, on the contrary, opt for purple, almost black flowers. You are truly spoiled for choice.

A Dahlia with dark foliage.
dahlia dark leaves


Scenic along walls and avenues, or to create a half-height backdrop to soften the separation of the hedge, thanks to its considerable height. The advice when faced with the Black Hollyhock is to mix its different colors: it is dreamy to see the varied ensemble swaying in the summer breeze.

Black hollyhock (alcea rosea).
black hollyhock


Excellent in rock gardens and at the foot of tall plants, Heuchera forever purple should be placed in partial shade. It is a low plant that flowers with small pink spikes. It is not afraid of the cold and is perfect for creating beautiful carpets, together with varieties with different color shades.

Heuchera forever purple.
Heuchera forever purple


Loropetalum chinense is a shrub that comes from the East. The leaves, small, shiny and dark, contrast well with the beautiful bright fuchsia flowers. It can grow up to two or three meters in height, but there are also dwarf varieties that are proposed as ground cover. It is a strong plant, it is not afraid of the cold, it tolerates heat and light well and, last but not least, it can be pruned without too many worries.

Loropetalum chinense.
Loropetalum chinense


It is an evergreen ground cover, or rather, always dark: its leaves, which resemble long ribbons, are practically black. If the very particular and decorative leaves were not enough to make it interesting, we can add that it produces pink flowers followed by purple berries. It is perfect as a “leader” in low borders, in partial shade and drained soil.

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens.
Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens


Dark red wavy leaves that are covered with white flowers in summer. Native to North America, Physocarpus opulifolius diablo is a deciduous shrub that is interesting in all seasons: in spring the red leaves appear followed by the white corymbs of flowering which, in autumn, give way to beautiful crimson berries. When the leaves fall, the wood is revealed, which flakes and reveals its reddish color.

Physocarpus opulifolius diablo.
Physocarpus opulifolius diablo


Black elderberry, black beauty variety, is a beautiful plant to look at and good to eat. The dark purple leaves highlight the pink flowers, delicately scented with lemon. In autumn the berries ripen, being of good size and with a pleasant flavour. To obtain a good harvest it should be placed in full sun, but sheltered from the wind.

Black elderberry, black beauty variety.
black elderberry


It is a black flower and the only one in the world to naturally present such an intense color associated, as the name suggests, with the velvety sensation that its texture offers. Native to South America, the black velvet Petunia is an annual plant perfect for balcony planters and easily tolerates positions in full sun. The advice is to mix it with the most unique varieties in terms of mottles and colours, creating balconies that will never tire.

Petunia black velvet.
petunia black velvet plant

On the cover, Petunia black velvet.

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