cool season landscape offers wonderful opportunities to
keep the edible landscape going, and for the culinary
artist in as well as the Monet designer outdoors. In the
last few years the edible landscape has skyrocketed in
popularity, and with good reason; it is fun, tasty, and
may save a buck, too. But to be honest it been mostly
reserved for the long warm season and perhaps an
afterthought for the cool season ahead.
cool season just starting, unless you live in South
Dakota, now is the time to consider your options, and
the leafy crops are certainly the place to start. If you
think I am talking about kale and cabbage, I am not.
Those are certainly high on the list and offer a lot of
foliage for the flower border or mixed container doesn’t
have to be relegated to kale and cabbage especially when
you have a variety like Red Fire. One of the most
beautiful partnerships I have seen in recent years
combined Red Fire with the delightfully fragrant
Sapphire Gem violas. Of course violas and pansies are
also edible, though I also enjoy their color and aroma.
With a companion planting like this you will have that
ever-present temptation to go out and pick some leaves
for a fresh salad, or topper for the tasty burgers.
Fire is slow to bolt and will keep you harvesting those
glorious ruffled leaves. Feel free to harvest young
outer leaves once or twice a week depending on rate of
growth. In addition to Red Fire don’t forget other
great re-leafed selections like Red Sails, Galactic Red
Leaf and of course the plain old green-leafed types like
Black Seeded Simpson are showy as well.
the South, however, mustard greens reign supreme. The
leaves of varieties like Red Giant offer deep burgundy
leaves bringing untold beauty to the edible landscape.
While almost any color will work as a partner, the warm
colors of pansies with orange, yellow or salmon, provide
a companionship of rare cool-season beauty. The Ultima
Apricot Salmon pansy is one such selection. To be honest
this partnership challenges is so striking it challenges
me to go and harvest. The red tones that make the deep
apricot color blend to perfection with the mustard.
Ultima pansies are about 2 inches across but pack a lot
of flower power.
I am a typical guy when it comes to eating. The thought
of fried catfish, cornbread and a heaping pile of
mustard greens will trump landscape beauty on most
Red Giant Mustard will reach about 18 inches in height
and width. As with all mustards, the young tender leaves
make the best greens. Red Giant’s leaves are succulent
and have a savory peppery taste that is great not only
with the catfish but with poultry, and even Italian
Red Giant offers more cold-hardiness than the lettuce
and is generally equal with kale and cabbage, so put it
at the top of your list. The cool season landscape can
be beautiful and edible too but don’t wait — now is
the time to get them going. Visit your local garden
center this weekend.
Winter is director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical
Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, University of
Georgia Cooperative Extension, and author of
"Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and
"Captivating Combinations Color and Style in the