Saturday, November 21, 2009


Edible ornamentals were everywhere this year,botanical gardens, horticultural testing stations, public parks. In northern gardens, when you get past grasses and the perennials that "look good dead" as Piet Oudolf says in praise of our Midwestern native prairie plants, there's just not a lot going on with annuals. Yes, fall mums put on a big show, but for over-the-top-unusual ornamental kale is where it is at.

This first kale is the Red Peacock hybrid kale. Supposedly it grows 8-12" tall. Not here! This specimen is easily 2 feet tall and 2 feet across. It is a sensational specimen with its extremely lacey, finecut foliage. Purpley-blue outer foliage embrace a hot pinky mauve center making this a standout.

This next photo shows a traditional kale in the foreground with what is referred to as "dinosaur kale" behind the purple fountain grass.

Another of the cole family I recommend is Savoy type cabbage. My favorite ornamental for its mild almost lettuce flavor and wonderfully textured leaves that make a good ornamental, structured border.

In the last picture, you can see the dinosaur kale in the foreground. This picture actually features many different edibles which are highly ornamental. Red Bor kale is right behind the dinosaur kale. This picture was taken at the Allen Centennial Gardens on the UW-Madison campus in mid-September.

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