Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea) and a Comparison

Green and white ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea)

Ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea) provides an alternative to flowers towards the back end of the year when gardeners have relatively few options. The colours intensify when nights get colder.

Purple ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea)

Drama comes from the edges of the leaves which are fringed, feathery, frilly or ruffled; contrasting ribs and veins; and their white, pink, red or purple hearts.

Ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea)

Bred for looks not for flavour, ornamental kale tends to be bitter.

White ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea)

I’ve never grown them but their patterns always draw me in and remind me of many-petalled roses.

White rose

Yet when you see them side by side, each highlights what the other isn’t. The kale is perky, tough and resilient; the rose, fragile. One has character, the other, soul.

25 Replies to “Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea) and a Comparison”

  1. I’ve always admired these plants, but have never grown them – we live in zone 2(ish) in Northern Ontario – I think I will devote some space from them next season. I love your comparison to the rose.

    1. I was thinking of cabbage roses, although perhaps that term is more commonly used by designers who create the patterns for fabrics than by gardeners.

  2. Another unexpectation! I’d never looked closely at ornamental kale and I see in your photos what I’ve missed. This reminds me of an ancient composition assignment: compare and contrast. It’s a visual essay with the same purpose. Nicely done!

  3. They (the kale) are rather lovely. The red and white ones put me in mind of fringed tulips. I was wondering whether they are too bitter to get nibbled, but I somehow doubt it.

    1. They look nibbled even when they are entire.

      I tease my sweetheart that he only grows veggies for the looks. If I ask him for kale to put in soup, he always assures me there isn’t any and tries to persuade me not to go out looking. I think these ones would be safe even from my scissors.

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