Monday, June 1, 2009

Flowering Food: Rhurbarb

My interest in edible landscaping has lead me to look more closely at the food plants that I grow not merely for how they affect my palate but also how they strike the other senses especially sight. And with an eye on appearance, let me present the rhubarb flower*:


Just like in perennial flower design, you can help your plants stand out by contrasting foliage. One of the most effective methods of balancing out green sea of medium sized foliage plants is by adding coarse and finer foliage. Rhubarb is a spectacular plant with huge coarse leaves. The red viens of some varieties are also striking. Other edibles with coarse foliage include most members of the brassica family such as seakale, collards, horseradish (I will have to write a different post singing the praises of this so-called weed), and the beet family with the most impressive, from a decorative standpoint, being the chards. If you live in warmer climes, you can include globe artichoke and cardoon as perennials. Some brave northerners grow these annually and I have considered trying to overwinter giant pots of them in my garage but I haven't gotten up the courage or time.


* Some people recommend cutting off the flowering heads of rhubarb to redivert energy into the production of leaves and stalks. I do this erratically and my plant hasn't suffered yet. In fact, the thing is huge - 4x4 feet huge. It is a green stemmed variety but oh so tasty.


Green Bean said...

Hmm, I'd never thought os planting rhubarb before but that is mighty pretty. Besides which, we LOVE rhubarb.

Stefaneener said...

It's sometimes difficult for me to notice other things because I'm so easily pleased -- for me, a healthy veggie is a beautiful plant. But it is nice. Have you seen the book The Art of the Kitchen Garden I think? It's a Taunton press book, and boy howdy is it pretty.