Black and White in the Garden

Black and White, the oh-so-chic color combination that we see adorning all the hippest living rooms in all the coolest urban settings is just as alluring in a garden...and perhaps even more so because the colors are not from Benjie Moore but from Mama Nature....

(black walls anyone? This is from, a great website!)

Black and white tulip combinations create a luscious contrast especially if they are surrounded with green, green and more green...White Flower Farm combined the 'Queen of Night' tulip, as close to black as a flower can get, with the white delicate Lily-flowered Tulip, 'White Triumphator' - that is the photo at the top of this post.

I too planted Queen of the Night black tulips with a white tulip to create a late tulip show that is also a wonderful cut flower combo.

Another black tulip you must consider is the heavily frilled and feathery-edged Black Parrot tulip which is especially beautiful -  it is dark purple outside and almost black on the inside. (Protect these from wind)

Van Bourgondien Bulbs mixed this tulip with others to create their Mystery Passion Blend:

But Black and White in the Garden is more than tulips....Here are some outstanding black (or at least very dark purple) plants that I have used in various settings:

(Ipomoea 'Blackie' - photo from White Flower Farm)

I started using the trailing Sweet Potato vine (an annual in my part of the world) as an eye catching, foliage plant cascading from containers but it soon outgrew its confines and was just too large for a pot. In my opinion, it makes a great dark groundcover or as a plant to soften the edge of a raised planter or atop a wall, as shown here.

Ipomoea 'Blackie' is the perfect contrast for white lantana, white potentilla or white ageratum flowers. You can pinch it back to keep it within bounds..... 
(this photo from casaconiglio.blogspot. - check it out on my links)

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'  has dusky, dark-purple, evergreen foliage which gets even darker in full sun. For drama, plant them next to white deutzia gracilis or white Candytuft - Iberis.

 In spring, this Blackbird creates its own contrast with long-lasting yellow-green blossoms on red stems. Deer Resistant!

(Thanks for this photo to white flower farm)

Of course, Coleus is a great accent plant in a garden and the darkest varieties are the best foil to any other plant...The  puckered foliage of 'Black Magic' coleus is a dark velvety purple with a green, scalloped edge. What a striking contrast it makes in a partially shaded spot with regular White Impatiens or white New Guinea Impatiens!

(White Flower Farm photo - go to their website!)

And lastly, 'Hillside Black Beauty' Snakeroot (Cimicifuga) is a dark-leaved form of Bugbane selected by Fred and Mary Ann McGourty. It has black purple foliage, grows 5 ft tall and looks best in light shade.....A statuesque plant that would be spectacular next to white leaved Hostas or white caladiums or white astilbes.
I am sure there are many more ideas for black and white garden combos - if you have some suggestions, would you comment and add your ideas here?


  1. I love this color combination! The extreme contrast can take an otherwise ordinary planting and make it fresh and bold.
    Today I was looking for plants in one of my favorite nurseries and a particular combination caught my eye. I looked at the labels on some hellebores that were arranged in rows right next to each other. One had a black flower and was called 'Black Diamond', and the other was called 'Snow White', which of course had white flowers!

  2. i've been pretty excited about black columbines this year...

  3. I also like the combination in there, I don't wanna say that they look pale or full wherein fact they shine really nice. I cannot believe at first that black and white in the garden will do great because its rare in the first place. Since you give me an idea I would love to do it and during night put some lightings around to give glow even at night.


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