Monday, June 20, 2011

The Chocolate Garden

A little diversion today from chocolate recipes, chocolate holidays and chocolate reviews. Summer is finally here in the San Francisco Bay Area (we had no Spring), so I thought today would be timely for this post!

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 have ever 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 usually have 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. I posted a link to Chocolate Mint Tea last week. It doesn't taste like chocolate, but definitely smells like it.

There's a wonderful article online: 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. I've also added to this list this year with plants that are 'chocolate' in color. So be sure and check before planting.

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.

Nicotania Chocolate Smoke
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 and peppermint. Nice bronze-green leaves.. and as I mentioned, it can be used as a tea.

Delphinium "Kissed by Chocolate"

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 chocolate soldiers
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  also: Digitalis Lanata 'Cafe Creme'; Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate'

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 Cherry Tomatoes
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.

Love to add to this list, so please comment on your favorite "chocolate" plants. Plants or seeds welcome.

And, here's a photo from the UC Botanical Garden (not my greenhouse!) of a chocolate pod. Took the photo a month ago.


apaler1 said...

I never thought there would be chocolate-scented flowers and those chocolate cherry tomatoes looks absolutely delicious! I'm interested in planting chocolate mint in my apartment to hopefully try that chocolate iced tea recipe you had.

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

What a GREAT post! I enjoyed this so much and took copious notes. I would love to have a chocolate garden. Although, I have to say I have never had any luck with chocolate mint, in the ground or in containers, it just doesn't grow for me.