Garden Chocolates: No- Calorie Gardening

Here are some no-calorie ways to enjoy chocolate by bringing the color and the scent of chocolate into your garden. The first secret is to mulch with cocoa bean hulls. Whenever your local plant nursery has cocoa bean hulls for sale, treat yourself and buy a bag or two. The mulch hulls are a soft chocolaty color and, best of all, they have the scent of chocolate. If you toss the hulls to the base of your plants by hand, your hands will smell wonderful. For a week afterward you will catch the scent of sweets as you enter your garden, particularly after you water. In addition to wide use in the garden, you can use these hulls on all your patio container plants, so that when you step outside to the patio, there's that wonderful aroma. There's no reason not to consider adding cocoa bean hulls to the containers of your indoor plants.

But there are more ways to build your chocolate garden. Chocolate enthusiasts will enjoy growing a vine from Japan called--you guessed it--the "chocolate vine" (Akebia quinata). The leaves are attractive and the flowers are tiny and brown and not very noticeable. They emit a white chocolate scent that we connoisseurs love. This vine grows in sun and in part shade, and may need to be controlled since it can be an aggressive climber, twining to 15-20 feet. The chocolate vine is deciduous, but evergreen in mild climates. The plant will grow in all zones.

A third discovery is the Sarcococca bush (S. ruscifolia). This slow-growing bush is a bit of a hard sell, so nurserymen will tell you, because the bush and its leaves are quite ordinary looking. The feature that lends grandeur to this bush is the potent perfume of its very tiny white flowers: the noble waft of chocolate. The plant will grow in zones 4-9 and 14-24.

Geranium enthusiasts may be familiar with scented geraniums (Pelargoniums). These sturdy plants do well in containers outdoors, in sun or partial shade. For a delicious chocolate mint scent, try Chocolate Peppermint Geranium. The gray-green leaves are splashed with chocolate color and the flowers are pink. Gentle rain, hot sun, or a light touch by your hand will release the fragrance from the leaves. This plant thrives in zones 3-11, and overwinters in zones 8-10. For colder climates bring the potted plant inside in mid-autumn.

For the flower with a color that most resembles dark rich chocolate consider the Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos astrosanguineus). The flowers have a velvety mahogany look and a chocolate scent. They don't resemble the annuals that are so popular. Chocolate Cosmos are tuberous perennials that can be dug and stored in winter in colder zones. They are recommended for zones 7-10. This gorgeous cut flower is native to Mexico and is sometimes called the Black Cosmos.

Bringing chocolate to your garden is a way to enjoy chocolate fragrance that is calorie free!

Try planting some of these chocolate beauties, and enjoy them in your garden and in bouquets throughout your home.

By: Terra Hangen