Fancy a hit of chocolate without the calories? Cosmos atrosanguineus is a beautiful perennial with velvet maroon petals held above pretty foliage and a mouth-watering scent combination of vanilla and chocolate. It's quite tender so tricky to over-winter, but worth indulging in a plant or two near a favourite seat. The cultivar 'Chocomocha' is said to be particularly chocolate-y, definitely one on the shopping list for my balcony this year.
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A pretty climber with the wonderful combination of chocolate flowers and spicy vanilla scent is Akebia quinata or Chocolate Vine. Semi-evergreen it has fragrant spring flowers sometimes followed by strange purple fruits. The waxy leaves will fall in cold winters but take on a purplish tint as the weather cools. Despite its exotic appearance it's quite hardy and will tolerate some shade.
If chocolate is not for you, how about the irresistibly named Iris 'Butter and Sugar'. It looks as delicious as it sounds and I am looking forward to seeing it in flower in one of my clients' gardens. It is quite happy in moist or boggy soil and we have used it near a pond which sometimes floods. Photo by noramunro via Flikr
One personal favourites is Jasminum officinale 'Clotted Cream'. It has abundant creamy flowers with a rich scent and is perfect near a path or seat. Although said to prefer full sun, I had one which flowered profusely on an east-facing fence despite been overshadowed by mature trees. It can cope with dry soil and so a good choice for containers.
Although a big fan of chocolate Easter eggs, I've been looking for some alternative Easter treats which will amuse my friends and be guilt-free. Luckily I have found lots of inspiration and enjoyed myself browsing through my plant books and the internet. Below are a few of my current favourites.
For friends with a savoury palate or appreciating a more traditional Easter link a packet of Poached Egg plant seeds (Limnanthes douglasii) is ideal. Scatter the seeds where you want them to grow and you will have a cheerful carpet of flowers all summer. It will also attract hoverflies who will hoover up your aphids, so a good choice for your vegetable patch.
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Finally a suggestion that is edible , Mentha x piperita f. citrata 'Chocolate' or more simply Chocolate Mint. It has lovely dark stems and a purple flush to the leaves. Bees and other pollinators will love the typical mauve flowers and the leaves are delicious. Reminiscent of After Eights when crushed they make a lovely addition to salads, puddings or summer cocktails. Like all mints it prefers the sun and is best in a container as it will spread.
There are many more plants with delicious names so you can tailor your gift (or personal treat) accordingly and have some fun in the process. Off now to finish my Easter shopping, I wonder if I can find something suitable for a liquorice fiend?
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