I just finished the novel, The Chocolate Garden by Ava Miles. For those of you that enjoy a well-rounded storyline filled with family conflict, wholesome romance, and Southern charm, then the Dare River series is perfect. It got me thinking as I’ve never heard of a chocolate garden before: Rose garden, herb garden, even an English cottage garden, but never a chocolate garden. Reading through the author’s plant descriptions peaked my interest. Then a further Internet search provided a wealth of information. Before you think I’m daft, let me explain that the book’s main character, Tammy, plants a garden filled with chocolate plants. No, the chocolate fairies won’t be leaving you tasty treats, rather the wonder will come from a colour scheme of scrumptious shades of browns.
Keeping in mind the OPALS ranking of plants for those with allergies, asthma, and COPD, I have compiled a list for you to create a healthy chocolate garden. When planting you’ll want to consider different shades of chocolate (brown), and introduce some lighter shades of whites, creams, and even subtle pops of colour. You don’t want the richness of the darker plants to be lost into the background. Think of different heights to give your garden some visual interest. And of course, try to find a whimsical piece (sculpture, sign, fountain) to bring further enchantment.
As for any planting, you’ll want to prepare your garden bed with quality compost to enhance the soil composition. The result will be health, thriving plants that you can be proud of.
Some plants may not be available in your plant zone. Bloom times may differ too. If you or a family member is fragrance sensitive, be sure to read the plant label or check online for the plant’s characteristics. The experienced staff at your local garden centre/nursery can also provide complementary plant choices.
|Common Name (Cultivar)||Botanical/Scientific Name||Description||OPALS Ranking|
|Chocolate cosmos||Cosmos atrosanguineus||Deep brownish-red, velvety flowers with a dark chocolate scent. Blooms from June to September. Cosmos are drought tolerant and attract butterflies. (See the photo above)||5|
|Clematis (Montana)||Clematis montana var. wilsonii||White star-shaped flowers with a chocolate scent. This is a vigorous climber perfect for a wall, fence or pergola.||5|
|Black sweet William||Dianthus barbatus var. nigrescens ‘Sooty’||Deep, rich crimson, with contrasting pure white stamens. Blooms from May to June (the second year if sowing seeds).||1 – 3, varies|
|Butterfly weed||Asclepias tuberosa||Vibrant yellow/orange flowers will complement your chocolate garden palate. Blooms from June to August. Magnet for attracting butterflies.||3|
|Chocolate daisy||Berlandiera lyrata||Yellow rays with maroon brown centre. Flower is quite fragrant and will bloom from May to October.||4|
|Chocolate mint||Mentha x piperata f. citrate ‘Chocolate’||Lovely minty-chocolate fragrance and taste. Best to plant in containers or sonotubes (found at building supply stores) as it’s highly invasive spreader. Lavender coloured flower bloom in July and August.||3|
|Coleus||Coleus ‘Dark Chocolate’ or ‘Chocolate Mint’||Leaves are a rich dark purple colour with a slight brown undertone. Common annual plant. The chocolate mint coleus has a rich purple-red foliage edged in lime green.||1|
|Columbine||Aquilegia viridiflora ‘Chocolate Soldier’||Rich coloured, purple-brown flowers with a delightful scent (although not chocolate). Blooms from late spring to early summer.||1|
|Coneflower||Echinacea purpurea ‘Supreme Cantaloupe’||Nonstop bloomer with large, long-lasting, fragrant, double flowers the colour of a slice of ripe cantaloupe. Magnet for pollinators: bees, birds, and butterflies to your garden.||5|
|Coral bells||Heuchera ‘Chocolate Ruffles’||When the plant matures the coppery shade will turn to a bold chocolaty-purple. White flowers will appear in the late spring and early summer.||1|
|Geranium (Mint-scented)||Pelargonium tometosum ‘Chocolate Mint’||Peppermint-scent, white flowering geranium is an annual that can be planted in the ground, a container, or raised garden bed.||3|
|Goat’s beard||Aruncus dioicus||Tall wispy plumes with cream-coloured flowers that bloom mid-summer.||Female plants are ranked 1|
|Tall bearded iris||Iris ‘Dutch Chocolate’||More chestnut than a true chocolate shade. Will bloom from May to June.||1 – 4, varies|
Why not try a chocolate garden with my recommendations? Your creativity may be the talk of the neighbourhood gardeners for your “chocolate deliciousness.”
Happy Gardening! Janice