The Black Garden at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Yesterday I had to give a short lecture at Vandusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver and as a treat afterwards I walked the garden to see what was in bloom. For those of you that haven’t been to the garden, it covers about 55 acres and was opened in 1975. Before that my mom remembers golfing on the property as it used to be the old Shaughnessy golf course.  That golf course moved their location and the property sat for many years until it was opened as a public garden.

The Black Garden at VanDusen Botanical Garden

As I wandered the garden I came across the Black Garden. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What a special garden! As soon as I saw the black Colacasia, I knew I would like this garden. The large ebony leaves of Colacasia give this garden a tropical feel. Colacasia is only hardy in zones 8-10 so it would definitely need protection here. I would most likely treat this plant as an annual. Let’s take a look at the plants that were used in the Black Garden at VanDusen.

The Black Garden at VanDusen Botanical Garden

One of the plants was bat flower but it wasn’t in bloom at the time. I love that this garden labels its plants. I can take the names down and try to recreate my own black  garden at home. I know, it’s a dream, when would I have the time?

The Black Garden at Vandusen Botanical garden

Black Mondo grass was used throughout the garden and as edging along the pathway. I love this hardy perennial. Once established it does spread but it’s always welcome in my garden. It’s easy to divide in the spring to use in containers or other areas of the garden. I grows to about six inches high in my garden but at VanDusen it was a bit taller.

The Black Garden at VanDusen Botanical Garden


Sweet potato vine or Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’ added that punch of chartreuse next to its sister in a dark, deep purple. These vines are annuals and will not overwinter in our climate. They are lovely in this garden used just behind the border of Mondo grass.

The Black garden at VanDusen Botanical Garden

You can see here the Colacasia is flanked by Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, Pelargonium ‘Persian Queen’, Coleus, and purple leaf Weigela or Weigela florida ‘Verweig 3’. Check out the red berries in the back adding to the overall colour scheme.

The Black Garden-VanDusen Botanical Garden

Bringing up the back of the chorus line of colour is Cimicifuga, probably ‘Brunette’ with its dark foliage. Its arching stems swaying in the breeze adding vertical interest to the garden. This is a large plant and it comes back every year. Use it at the back of the border in full sun to partial shade. The Cimicifuga is flanked by tall Cannas with red-orange flowers.

The black garden- VanDusen Botanical garden

Here is a full shot of one side of the garden. Its jam-packed with plants combining annuals, perennials and shrubs and trees. This is one area of VanDusen Botanical Garden that you don’t want to miss.


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