Are you tired of potted mums and asters? Can’t bear to look at another white pumpkin? Ornamental cabbages (Brassica oleracea) might reignite your flare for fall decor. Sure, these tasteful (if not tasty) plants have shown up in grocery stores and garden centres every fall since Martha Stewart first caused an outbreak of Obsessive Seasonal Decor Disorder. But there are so many ways to take advantage of their frilly leaves in soft shades of purple, green and ivory. And you don’t need a glue gun or a degree in horticulture. Here are three fall decor ideas for putting the fab back into your fall.
The Cabbages And Roses Bouquet
When H. L. Mencken wrote “An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup” probably didn’t consider looking at roses and cabbages on equal footing for their looks alone. I found these lovely arrangements for sale at an outdoor flowerstand just steps from the Thames in the heart of London, England, last January. I think the key here is to choose flowers and cabbage heads in the same colour family to play up the variety of textures and play down the fact that you’ve create a veggie bouquet with some blooms thrown in.
The Couture Cabbage Container
One frilly ornamental cabbage in a container filled with classic fall flowers is OK. One low, wide container filled with nothing but fabulously frilly cabbages is quite another matter. I found these two examples last September (2015) at Springridge Farm near Milton, ON. You could buy these beauties ready made. If you want to DIY, buy cabbage plants that are already the size you want. Most ornamental cabbages won’t grow much larger than what you see at point of sale, especially if the plants are root bound. Then add some variegated ivy or Vinca major, as seen below, and you’re good to go.
The Fab Fall Flowerbed
During my visit to Reford Gardens, on the north shore of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec in August, 2014, I was continually being drawn to the sumptuous play of textures. In the sunniest sections, cabbages and kale were used as liberally as any flowering ornamental to create dramatic border plantings. In the photo directly below, sunflowers (another plant usually relegated to the vegetable patch) were used for height as well as additional colour and texture.
Here are two views of the Reford Gardens vegetable garden. The cabbages and kale may be nestled next to other veggies but they’re certainly playing more the role of eye-catcher than edible.
A word about growing ornamental cabbage: If your region is prone to long, hot summers, growing your own can be problematic. Seeds have to be planted in mid-summer and seedlings kept under cool conditions until they’re ready to be planted out–best accomplished if you have a greenhouse so that you can regulate temperatures as well as give plants the full sun they need.
Have you got any fall decor ideas using ornamental cabbages?