(Brassica oleracea)

Appearance
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.

Cultivation
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.

Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)

Appearance

Aptly named Golden Currant blooms in early spring with showy clusters of small but fragrant bright yellow flowers. The blossoms are followed in summer by edible fruit that ripens from green through red to black. In autumn, green, lobed leaves turn to amber or scarlet before falling. The arching branches can reach anywhere from three to nine feet in height, depending on age and habitat.

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Elderberries - Wikipedia-1APPEARANCE

Elderberries are upright, spreading shrubs that grow six to twelve feet high. Their leaves are opposite and compound with five to eleven leaflets. Leaves also have serrated margins. Their showy, white flower-clusters generally are six-to-ten inches in diameter and have a pleasant fragrance. The fruit is a smooth globular berry that measures three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. The broad, flat clusters of berries, which ripen in early August to late September, are deep purple to black.

CULTIVATION

Elderberries are drought and cold tolerant. They also tolerate almost any moisture condition and soil type in full sun or part shade. They grow in Zones 2-9 with a preferred pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Some elderberries are partially self-fruitful and generally show increased fruit-set when two or more cultivars are planted within close proximity.  Plant elderberries five to seven feet on center to accommodate air circulation. Plant bare root stock or rooted cuttings in early spring and container-grown plants anytime during the growing season. It’s important to cultivate these shrubs carefully, because the root system is shallow and can easily be damaged. Prune each winter, thinning out spindly suckers and removing all wood older than 3 years.

Elderberries have few pests, and natural predators often control outbreaks.

LANDSCAPE USE

Elderberries are native shrubs that produce fruit used in jellies, pies and wine. The fruit is seedy and tart, but high in vitamin C. These shrubs also are used for landscaping and wildlife habitat. To harvest, cut whole clusters off when fruits are dark blue or purplish black and soft to the touch. Clusters of white flowers are also edible.

Contributed by Nadine Salmons, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at (719) 520-7684 (new number) or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.