Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Chocolate Scented Gardens
I am lucky to have several different garden areas on my property, but I've always longed for a dedicated 'chocolate-scented' garden. Since I'm in a fairly temperate zone of California, it's certainly possible. I've always used cocoa bean hulls as mulch, and there's nothing that smells more like chocolate than this mulch. There's a problem using the mulch, though, because dogs can become sick from eating the hulls. I've been lucky. None of my dogs has been even mildly interested in this great mulch.
But as for real chocolate smelling plants, I've been given (and time to get more) Cosmos atrosanguineus. This is a lovely maroon cosmos that actually has a heavy chocolate scent. Originally from Mexico, this plant reblooms in our Mediterranean climate.
I've also had Chocolate mint, a very hardy perennial, well it's mint, after all. Warning: it will take over the garden. Plant in containers or monitor its spread.
Today I found a great article online about Growing a Chocolate-Scented Garden by Deb Babcok in Steamboat Today. Her climate in Steamboat Springs is harsher than mine and the growing season is shorter, but she has a great list of chocolate scented plants. I decided to add to this list, so here are several plants that smell like chocolate. What could be more delightful than a chocolate garden. Be sure and check that these plants will grow and flourish in your zone.
Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) Looks like a daisy with yellow petals and a dark chocolate center. The aroma from the flower can be detected as far as 30 feet away. This is a night-bloomer, so the garden will smell like cocoa in the morning.
Nicotiana 'Chocolate Smoke' This is a Chocolate Flower Farm exclusive and replaced Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate'. It has a very dark flower.
Decidious (to semi-evergreen) twining Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata): climbing plant with purple-red flowers that smell of milk chocolate. Warning: Can be invasive. Keep it trimmed.
Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita): Some people think this tastes like a combo of chocolate abd peppermint. (Peppermint patties?) Nice bronze-green leaves.
Dahlia 'Karma Choc'. Not certain of the odor on this but it has a very dark color like chocolate.
Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eyes): annual California wildflower with wonderful fragrance. Meadow plantings. Grows to 3'
Columbine comes in a chocolate-scented variety (Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldiers')
Foxglove (Digitalis 'chocolate') now this is literally a Dying for Chocolate plant as foxglove is a poisonous plant
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum 'Chocolate')
Rudbeckia (R. 'Chocolate Drop')
Sweet William (Diantush 'Bittersweet William')
Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus): Deciduous shrub with maroon brown flowers (cinnamon-spiced, bittersweet chocolate fragrance)
Cosmos Astroganguineus: Plants form a medium-sized clump of dark green leaves, with deep maroon blooms that smell of dark chocolate.
Chocolate Geranium (Pelargonium 'Chocolate Joy')
Penstemon 'Chocolate Drop' How can you go wrong with penstemon?
One mustn't forget edible plants in the garden that smell (and sometimes taste) like chocolate:
Chocolate Corn, Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Chocolate Mini Bell Pepper, 'Velour Frosted Chocolate' Viola, Chocolate Nasturtium, and Milk Chocolate Calendula).
If your local nursery does not offer the seeds or plants, contact Chocolate Flower Farm.They also have other chocolate scented products such as candles, bath and body products, chocolate teas, sachets and other gifts. They're located in Langley, WA.
I'll be adding to this list from time to time, so please send me information on your favorite chocolate scented plants. Plants or seeds welcome, too!