Tropical Chocolate

Its amazing how a few small changes can substantially change the look of a garden. A few new acquisitions for the Dark Verandah have done exactly that. Last saturday on my usual hunt at the farmers market, I found not one but two chocolate colored coleus. Week after week this one vendor would have coleus but always in brighter colors of reds and pinks, then this week he had these two - a ruffled chocolate edge one and one with chocolate splashes.

Having had some experience now with the shifting personalites of Coleus I'm going to keep these two in pots and in heavier shade. I've found that shade keeps the lime colors greener (they seem to get more yellow in sun) and the chocolate, darker (they get redder in sun).  Keeping them in pots will allow me to move them around to where they keep the color values I like best. I must also propagate frequently as they wax and wane quite dramatically left to their own devices.

Yesterday on a visit to an orchid farm, I found a couple of pots of the black cordyline pictured above left. I think its Cordyline Fruticosa Black Magic, and what I really like about it is that it does not have red or pink tones that I frequently see in Cordylines for sale here. This one is largely black with some green. The nursery owner was reluctant to sell it, but thankfully I convinced him to part with one of those two plants.

I've had the Christia Obcordata for while, with its pretty chocolate striped leaves that look like butterfly wings. I'd been keeping it in the shade thinking that's what it liked. Although it continued to grow, it remained spindly until a few weeks ago I moved the pot into the bed where its a little shaded by a neighbouring plant but does get some sunshine. It quite literally transformed, doubling its size and becoming an important feature with its unusual coloring shape and pattern.

So a nice boost to my chocolate palette and a little further along the learning curve on how to manage this palette better by playing musical chairs, moving these potted beauties around. 

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