How to Grow a Gothic Garden: NPR

A clonal hybrid of a slipper orchid known as Paphiopedilum Saint Albans “Dark Red” from the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection

Hannele Lahti/Smithsonian Open Access Collections


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Hannele Lahti/Smithsonian Open Access Collections

Gardens are blooming across the country, and while you'll likely see plenty of roses and brightly colored zinnias on porches and patios this summer, one much-hyped trend is moodier. It's Victorian and romantic and very dark.

Trend watchers have focused on gothic gardening. Google searches for 'goth garden' have more than doubled in the past five years – with a pronounced spike after the heroine of the Netflix hit series Wednesday began to find solace in a creepy conservatory full of ghost orchids and carnivorous plants.

Would you like to create an attractive gothic garden yourself? We have some tips.

Use dark plants (duh)

The Chocolate Cherry sunflower variety has become a bestseller for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Other garden companies are also reporting an increase in sales of dark flowers and leaves.

The Chocolate Cherry sunflower variety has become a bestseller for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Other garden companies are also reporting an increase in sales of dark flowers and leaves.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co./rareseeds.com

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Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co./rareseeds.com

“I can tell you that dark varieties are consistently among the best-selling products,” Michelle Johnson, spokesperson for the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, said in an email to NPR. “For example, the Chocolate Cherry Sunflower is the best-selling sunflower; Black Magic cosmos is one of the top cosmos flowers and our dark red and black vegetable varieties (tomatoes, carrots, etc.) always sell very well.”

That's right: don't forget your vegetables (and herbs).

“I love the dark red basil there,” says James Clawson, an event designer in New Orleans, pointing to a pot of herbs glistening darkly on the patio behind his shotgun house.

“You can also plant vegetables there,” he added. “Dark red lettuce will be beautiful. Kale is really beautiful. “

Don't use ONLY black plants

Experts at the non-profit organization National Garden Bureau made a YouTube video filled with tips.

As tempting as it may be, they advise against leaning too heavily on black foliage, as the plants won't pop without contrast.

And consider a mix that might include dark shades of hollyhock, false indigo and coral bells among the “thrillers, spillers and fillers.”

Try some decorative items

Even the generally ungothic people TruckTV And Better homes and gardens rhapsodizing about wrought-iron fences and broken sculptures. The Gardenista website suggests “old animal cages” as decor. And while weeping angels may seem clichéd to some, they can still pack a punch, as one admiring commenter noted in the Instagram post above.

Add nails

Finally: prickly plants give your garden a pleasant, menacing atmosphere.

A bromeliad in Miami, Florida

A bromeliad in Miami, Florida.

Rhona Wise/AFP via Getty Images


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Rhona Wise/AFP via Getty Images

James Clawson suggests bromeliads for more tropical climates. Commonly found in garden stores, they are members of the pineapple family with long green spiky leaves and a dramatic bloom in the center.

“They last forever. and they die beautifully too,” he said.

Gothic gardens really shouldn't be deadly

A final piece of advice:

“Don't spray a lot of poison,” Clawson suggests. “Butterflies are a good thing.”

Even Wednesday, Adams might agree that gothic gardens could use some cheer.

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