Friday, February 23, 2024

Gardening: Color without flowers?

By Cheryl Huckabee

We’ve all planted the tried-and-true pansies and Johnny Jump-Ups for winter color. Every now and then, it’s fun to try something new and different in the garden.

There are several cold-tolerant plants with colorful foliage you should give a try. They’ll improve your home’s curb appeal and can be planted in containers, beds, and borders. Some are even edible!

Ornamental Cabbage or Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) are cool-season vegetables with a wide variety of foliage types and colors suitable for use in the landscape. Their leaves can be variegated in green, white, red, and purple combinations and interesting dissected and ruffled shapes. When the weather warms, they put out creamy white to pale yellow flowers on tall spikes. Ornamental cabbages and kales are suitable for bedding, accents, and containers.

Another good choice is Giant Mustard (Brassica juncea). Its coarsely textured rumpled foliage grows 1 to 2 feet tall. The striking dark purple-bronze leaves are sharply contrasted with lighter-colored veins. Giant mustard looks great in containers, mass plantings, and herb, kitchen, or cottage gardens.

The handsome coarse bold, colorful winter foliage of Ornamental Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla) is an eye-catcher in the garden. The bronze, blue-green, to dark green blades contrast with white, pink, purple, red, yellow, or orange stalks and veins. Plant a variety of seed blends to retain color and add diversity to your garden. Although it’s the same species as the edible Swiss Chard variety, the ornamental varieties are often not palatable.

Intermix edible Lettuces (Lactuca sativa) with cool-season flowering annuals. This dual-purpose plant is available in a variety of foliage shapes, textures, and colors with an ornamental appeal. Lettuces are rapid growers and work well as lush temporary fillers in containers, cottage gardens, and accent plantings. Lettuces are also effective for attracting wildlife to your garden.

For more information about gardening in North Texas see Happy Gardening!

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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