When obsessions collide



Here’s a business that thinks gardens crave chocolate too. It’s been open for three years, but I just heard of The Chocolate Flower Farm. (I see that the Heavy Petal and Doug Green sites—and probably others—have mentioned it previously. )

This utterly delicious nursery features plants that smell like chocolate, have chocolate coloring, or are just dark, as well as chocolate-themed gifts. There are seeds and seed-starting kits as well. I normally eschew faddish businesses, but the selection of plants is great, including many I have never seen elsewhere—chocolate-brushed delphinium, chocolate helianthus, and chocolate columbine, for example—and the attractive site is well-organized. (The few comments on Dave’s Garden are positive.)

So in spite of the fact that there is NO space for any of this, I am tempted by Actaea “Black Negligee,” with graceful serrated dark foliage and tall late-season flowers; the lovely Dahlia “Karma Choc,” which supposedly doesn’t need staking (!);and Oncidium “Sharry Baby,” a chocolate-scented orchid.

Apparently, plants with dark foliage used to be called “black plants,” but horticulturalists eventually realized that the word “chocolate” was far more attractive in the marketplace. One has to be careful with dark-foliaged plants; as beautiful as they are, they can fade into the background or appear out of place, if not properly sited. But if you’re looking for them, or maybe just for ideas, this is one place to start.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Yeah, I finally gave up finding a good spot for the dark-leaved weigla ‘Black Knight’ because it faded into nothingness in the border. Stuck it out in the hell strip where it would get noticed.

  2. I was envisioning chocolate-smelling, like chocolate peppermint, which is just divine. We get enough brown around here in winter without adding extra doses in the growing season! But yeah for variety; I think it is cool that the place exists.

  3. Nancy, they have plenty of chocolate-scented stuff, though there is no way I would bring more mint into my garden, regardless of how it smelled. I do understand that their chocolate soy candles are the most chocolate-y you will ever find. I am thinking of ordering some right away.

  4. My daughter, who will be planting a chocolate garden this spring, introduced me to The Chocolate Flower Farm last year. I don’t have a chocolate garden, but just browsing their site is fun!

  5. I have Black Negligee, Elizabeth, and it’s awesome–both echoing black-flowered poppies (they’re more wine than chocolate) and contrasting with a gold bromegrass. To me, it’s the nicest of the 4 Actaea cvs I have.

  6. My personal favorite is Black Mondo Grass (nothing chocolate about it, it is all black) coming up through a patch of Golden Creeping Jenny. I also grow Summer Chocolate Mimosa which looked like a twig when I planted it two years ago, but it is now 10′ tall.

  7. I have the Sharry Baby orchid, it is a great bloomer, but chocolate scented? Not noticeable if it is in my greenhouse/sunroom. I do love the dark plants, call them black or chocolate, another marketing ploy playing with names.

    Frances at Faire Garden

  8. THIS explains the chocolate eupatorium Elizabeth talked me into, last summer. (I was drawn to the name, and the plant is pretty enjoyable, too.)

    By coincidence, chocolate is one of the things that gets me through the winter, so it all comes together. I’d better pay a visit to the site.

  9. One of my favorite stops at the NWFG in Seattle. Their booth smells so good and they have these wonderful black teas, one chocolate, one chocolate mint, that are delicious. I bought only one tin last year and that was a mistake – it was gone much, much too quickly.

  10. Thanks so much for the mention, Gardener of La Mancha! I came back to verify that Sharry Baby oncidium does indeed smell chocolatey, you have to stick your nose in it, but it’s there!

    Frances at Faire Garden

  11. I don’t know about ‘Black Negligee’ but I love my ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ actaea, nee cimicifuga. And I second letting the golden creeping jenny twine through the black mondo grass–I love that combo in my garden.

    One chocolate plant that I have given up on is chocolate cosmos. I would so love to grow it, but darned if I can get the roots to do anything for me. 🙁

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