Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The 2015 Ornamental Cabbage and Kale Challenge

I have been rather vocal in regard to my dislike of ornamental cabbage and kale. Like mums and pansies they represent (to me) a gaudy, temporary, celebration of the changing seasons, aka “the end of summer.” However – as you know – we gardeners sometimes change our feelings towards particular plants, even without Hell freezing over first. This photo...

Which I took at Pomarius, had me thinking back to a display I saw at Garden Fever (my local nursery) last winter. They’d planted up a container in front of the store using the dreaded ornamental C&K – and it looked fabulous. Something the talented designers at Flora Grubb would have been proud to call their own. Do I have a photo? No. Wish I did. Instead I’ll share an image of the bad side of OC&K, taken in Tacoma, WA, one April, long after the cabbage and kale should have been composted (or at least cut and used in a vase arrangement). It's this look that helps to give OC&K it's bad name....

Thinking on my changing outlook I decided, what the heck. Why not go all the way and embrace it? By celebrating this symbol of autumn perhaps I could (partially) avoid my sadness over the end of summer? By golly I'm going to plant some OC&K!

Wait a minute, maybe I should invite you all to join me and make this into a challenge...

The 2015 Ornamental Cabbage and Kale Challenge is on!!!!!!!

Who – everyone who wants to participate, you don’t need to have a blog, or even a garden.

What – you plant up an area in the ground, a container, or even do a vase arrangement with cut OC&K stems.

Where – in your house/garden and here – after you create your planting/arrangement take a photo and email it to me (spiky plants at gmail dot com). I'll do a blog post with all the entries. Of course sharing your photos via your own social media channels (and linking to the challenge) is encouraged too.

When – now! The challenge starts now and closes on November 1st. The winner (yes, there will be a winner) will be announced the week before U.S. Thanksgiving.

Why – because summer’s over dammit and I need something to have fun with! A winner will be selected from all the photos received. If so many inspired entries are sent in then maybe there will be more than one winner – like an “in ground planting” winner and a container winner, we’ll see.

What do you win? I’m glad you asked! Of course there is the reward of just being declared "the winner," but I’ll also mail "the winner" a Starbucks gift card so you and a friend can celebrate the season with one of those disgusting pumpkin spice lattes that everyone seems to go crazy for. Or you could switch it up and enjoy my fav, a mocha (nonfat, no whip) with some pumpkin bread. The choice is yours (and no, Starbucks is not sponsoring this challenge).

Oh, I hear you wondering….just who’s doing the judging? Let me introduce our fine panel of judges:

Wes Younie – Garden Designer/Buyer at Pomarius Nursery. Wes is also an artist who shows at the Mark Woolley Gallery in Portland, see his work here.

Nathan Limprecht – the Head Operator of the Retail Division and Partner at Cistus Design Nursery. Nathan draws from a background in horticulture, floral design, and artistic pursuits.

Heather Tucker – she blogs at Just a girl with a hammer and has been called “The Tina Fey of Garden Blogging” (although she says a better comparison might be Dave Coulier). Heather is a lady of great taste and sassy whit.

What will they be judging on? Words like originality, imagination and innovation come to mind. Then again there's the intangible, "wow" factor which will probably loom large. Plus I reserve the right to award a couple of honorary winning titles like "best use of aluminum foil" (should there be such a thing) or "planting most likely to inspire a WWTT post."

Next week I’ll post photos of the OC&K planting in my garden (they're up now - click here to see them), but today I leave you with a little inspiration. This collage is from photos in the current (epic!) issue of Garden Design Magazine

These amazing sphere's are in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living.

And this vase arrangement comes from the blog Desire to Inspire.

And finally photos I took from a 2012 visit to University Village in Seattle. I was still in the "hate" camp then. Now, well, I can see the potential...

So are you in? Get to it! Oh and take a photo and send it to me…spiky plants at gmail dot com. Have fun!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

37 comments:

  1. I have never purchased or planted one of these, and I'm not sure why. They're so much prettier than the mums commonly available. Will your contest get me started? ...

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    1. Neither had I! And I certainly hope that it will, I'd love to see your take on it.

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  2. Hmmm... So tempting. And what great judges! Must go to the nursery now...
    And I agree with your position on pumpkin lattes and the like - yuck!

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    1. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

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  3. OMG, I love a challenge. I've never been enamored of OC&K either, but you've set my thoughts spinning. And given me a goal -- being the WWTT winner. Hey, and I can buy another new container for this. I never do winter containers either, so this will be a first. All kinds of good you've started.

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    1. Yay, glad to hear your wheels are spinning Alison. I've really enjoyed thinking on what I'll put together. It's a gardening energy that I usually only feel in the spring.

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  4. A very timely post because after seeing ornamental cabbages at the Alaska Botanical Garden a few weeks ago, I've begun to move from the "hate" to the "not hate" camp myself. Who knows, I might even end up in the "like" tent city!

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    1. I loved those photos that you shared, and almost emailed you to ask if I could use them. Isn't it amazing how seeing a plant in the right conditions can change your entire outlook?

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    2. You can ALWAYS borrow photos from my blog. Carte blanche :-).

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  5. Nothing like cabbage and kale to bring out the competitive spirit in us all ;)

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  6. What is happening?
    Loree embraces cabbage.
    The Universe shifts.

    Ornamental cabbage - kale haiku.

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  7. Wow, your challenge sounds like fun even though I'm terrible at combination pots. Let's see...where's that aluminum foil?

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    1. Hmm, I don't know if I agree. Those test combos you shared on today's blog post look pretty good to me...

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  8. They do have potential and I enjoyed the great color patterns of OC&K when I lived in places where they lasted more than five minutes outdoors. It will be fun to see the entries.

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    1. Darn. Maybe an inside/vase arrangement? Do they even sell them in Texas?

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  9. Well that's a challenge! I'm not sure if ther is much in our garden centres in this category apart from the everyday purple ones. Will ponder, has got my mind pondering

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    1. Even the everyday purple ones have possibilities Helen!

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  10. Wow, when you flip allegiance you really go for broke. I want to see your award for the most "whimsical" entry.

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    1. Sorry, I can't even begin to wrap my head around that one...

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  11. LOL: I love it when people change their perceptions. Years ago, I wouldn't even think of planting mixed succulents in pots, and now I'm completely smitten. ;-) I've planted cabbages and kales in the past, but wasn't planning on doing it this year. Does it count if I photograph other people's plantings? There are tons of great examples around Madison. I'l post them for the fun of it, even if I can't win the contest. Great idea!

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    1. Yes I would love to see the ones you photograph, please do! Of course there's no winning with someone else's creation but it would still be fun.

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  12. I love it, Loree! You're so creative to think of this. How about an edible kale category? I just planted a boatload of kale seed an they're already coming up. It'll be fun to see all of the entries.

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    1. Toss a couple of ornamental ones in a container near your edibles...

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  13. I don't care what the calendar says, it's still summer here! I haven't even seen ornamental cabbage or kale in the garden centers yet. Okay, maybe I haven't really been looking, or my eyes glazed over them, but really, planted now, I could only serve up cooked cabbage.

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    1. Cooked cabbage, ugh. I am sorry Kris. The challenge runs through October, maybe (hopefully) that month will bring cooler weather to SoCal!

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  14. Kris said it. Not even in the nurseries yet. Cooked cabbage, I love that.

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    1. I am holding out hope that October will be a kinder and gentler month for you guys.

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  15. Don't go over to the enemy! Cabbage is for cole slaw, unless it's red cabbage in which case you cook it in a skillet with apples, vinegar, bacon, and a little brown sugar. Yum. Kale is the green stuff on your plate that remains uneaten at the end of the meal. They are not plants for the garden! I do like pansies, though.

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    1. Too late, I am completely smitten (9 and counting). That recipe sounds delicious!

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  16. Wow, so many haters in the comments, it's almost like Facebook. I plant some every year, and I am especially fond of Red Bor kale. To further inflame things, I'l have you know I like to plant mustard as well. Trouble is, it is still early to think about such things here.

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    1. Haha, indeed.So when does one think about such things there? Cause it is now October, and while I am firmly on board with OC&K I do see their appeal as being a little less intense come December and the holiday season.

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  17. I've never really liked them either, and never purchased or planted one. But I recently saw one in particular, at Pomarius, that surprised me. Mostly, the surprise was that I thought it was a succulent at first. I may be putting something together...

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    1. I hope you do! (a succulent huh? That's interesting)

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  18. Okay, so I totally missed this... But now that I'm caught up, I LOVE this idea! I have to say I have always loved OC&K, but this challenge makes it even more fun! Thanks for adding yet another fun distraction to my life - I'll do my best to get something together on time...

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