Black Cohosh has everything a shade gardener can dream of. It grows six to eight feet tall and produces these almost surreal wands of rosy white fuzzy flowers that smell like honey and bloom abundantly against the background of its strikingly dark foliage in full shade from mid-summer to the end of fall.

If this is the miracle flower of them all, how come I didn’t plant it sooner? I tried and failed twice, I’m thinking third time’s a charm. It didn’t grow from seed and didn’t survive the winter as a small plant.

Black Cohosh is a slow growing plant, again, did I mention patience? No patience, no garden, I learned that the hard way. I’m not expecting it to bloom this summer either, it seems it follows the peonies’ three year rule.

Interestingly enough, this beauty is better known for its medicinal uses, mostly related to women’s health, than for its impact in the shade garden, where its presence is spectacular. It can make a stunning specimen planting all by itself or provide a beautiful dark lace background for a shaded foundation wall planting.

As its other name, bugbane, implies its scent keeps insects at bay, an added bonus if you have trouble with the mosquitoes that love to breed in lush foliage.

It is a woodland native, and as such, relatively high maintenance, because it does appreciate dapple shade and rich acidic soils that stay consistently moist. If these conditions don’t occur, its growth will be stunted and it may not bloom at all. Some varieties bear flowers whose scent is unpleasant, so I keep my fingers crossed that the honey fragrance of my lovely won’t peel paint off the walls.

Its foliage is usually dark green, but I decided to luxuriate in this chocolate leaved variety, I simply couldn’t leave it behind when I left the plant nursery, it’s as simple as that. We’re all weak humans after all, and given to temptation.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"; "A Year and A Day"; "Möbius' Code"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: and, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.