(Brassica oleracea)

Cold-resistant flowering cabbage takes the stage after tender annuals have succumbed to Fall’s first frosts. Flowering cabbage isn’t really a flower, but a loose head of large ruffled, fringed, or smooth leaves in vibrant combinations of cream rose, purple, and green. Although grown as an ornamental, flowering cabbage, also known as ornamental or flowering kale, is completely edible.

Technically a biennial, these cabbages are grown for the open rosettes that forms the first season. Summer heat results in stunted or leggy plants that are often attacked by cabbage loopers; plants are at their best in cool fall weather. Frosty nights intensify the colors. In late August or September, set seedlings out 15 – 18 inches apart in full sun. All cabbages prefer rich, moist soil.

Landscape use
Ornamental cabbages are most typically massed as bedding plants. Plants continue to look attractive for a while after the ground freezes. Use for fall/winter color, contrasted with dormant perennial grasses in shades of tan and gold, or harmonizing with groundcovers, such as some junipers, that turn purple in winter.

Article and photograph by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener.

Red Horned Poppy – Glaucium grandiflorum (syn: G. corniculatum)

Huge, eye-popping flowers, with silky petals in shades of yellow to red, are a great reason to grow these unusual poppy relatives. The cup-shaped blossoms are supported by short stems rising from a basal clump of silver-green leaves about a foot wide and high. (Some species branch more than others.) Seed pods sport spiny “horns,” giving the plant its common name. Native to the eastern Mediterranean, Horned Poppies are listed as noxious weeds in some states (happily, not Colorado). Interestingly, the plants contain the chemical glaucine, which is used medically (and rarely as a recreational hallucinogenic drug—not recommended).

Horned poppies are grown from seeds or started seedlings. While the seedlings will overwinter in mild areas (to USDA zone 6), here it’s best to start them in early spring. Choose a spot in full sun. Soil must be well-drained for these xeric plants. Lightly cover the seeds, which can take a while to germinate. Once plants reach blooming size, they will continue to flower until seeds are formed or until frost. Removing spent blooms prolongs flowering, but if you want more plants next year, be sure to let some seed pods ripen. Pick them and scatter the seeds where you want plants to grow next season. A pea gravel mulch will keep weeds in check, mitigate soil temperatures and moisture levels, and encourage self-seeding.



The petite, sky-blue flowers of forget-me-nots have charmed gardeners for ages. Also available in delicate pink or white, the blossoms are suspended by wiry stems above crinkled, heart-shaped leaves of forest green. The plants form a groundcover six to twelve inches high and two feet wide. Even though the species is native to Europe, it has naturalized in North America to the extent that the forget-me-not is the state flower of Alaska.


While the plants are hardy from USDA zones 4 to 8, they may be perennial, biennial, or even annuals. In any case, forget-me-nots reseed abundantly and will renew themselves indefinitely provided their needs are met. Naturally growing along streams or at the edge of ponds, this woodland species prefers cool, damp conditions. Soil should be rich in humus, so dig in plenty of organic matter before planting. Plants do best in the shade, especially as the weather warms; intense high-altitude sunlight will burn leaves.

Landscape Use

Forget-me-nots bloom at about the same time as mid-season tulips, and make a beautiful underplanting that will hide the bulbs’ fading foliage. Naturalize them in woodland gardens, under trees, and in any informal garden that receives regular watering.

Article and photo by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener.