A chocolate garden

Rich brown foliage brings drama to plantings. Check out our gallery of finds, including 'Hot Chocolate' calla and 'Chocolate Cherry' sunflower
Kathleen N. Brenzel

"Chocolate is the new black. It goes with everything," says Marie Lincoln, who owns Chocolate Flower Farm on Whidbey Island, Washington, with her partner, Bill Schlicht. The new nursery sells more than 300 dark-foliaged (and dark-flowered) kinds of plants ― with mouthwatering names like 'Hot Chocolate' calla and 'Chocolate Cherry' sunflower.

The couple isn't alone in following a chocolate muse. Growers are offering a number of new plants with deep maroon to brown foliage: 'Boston Cherries and Chocolate', a Rex begonia whose brown leaves are splashed with hot pink; 'Summer Chocolate' mimosa, a deciduous tree with lacy brown foliage; 'Chocolate Ruffles' heuchera; and deep brown cannas.

What makes the color so appealing? Deep maroons and warm browns make bright colors pop. "And there's a primal connection," Lincoln says. "People love chocolate ― the yummy, melt-in-your-mouth kind."

Indulge your passion by infusing the garden with foliage the color of creamy milk chocolate, mocha, or dark, rich fudge. To enhance the effect, place gloriosa daisies or purple coneflower beside the leafy plants; the flowers' Hershey's Kisses centers will echo the foliage's warm brown hue.


INFO: Chocolate Flower Farm (10-5 daily Apr-Oct; 5040 Saratoga Rd., Langley, WA; 360/221-2464)