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Vegetables in a beautiful bouquet?

by | Nov 20, 2018 | Flowers & Alpines | 0 comments

Amazing Miniature Kale at the airport

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp tells me the kale depicted in the  photo I post on Facebook is popular in Japan and is bred to have long stems for flower arranging. I am hanging out at the airport, waiting for a flight that never comes, posting things idly on facebook.

Instead of hustling right through the Schiphold Airport as I normally do, I am casually poking around the stores, killing time and waiting for a flight change to be announced.   And so I am looking at bulbs and luggage and even vegetables that look a lot like flowers. 

I pick up an enormous naked amaryllis bulb. In Canada these bulbs are half the size and are only sold before Christmas at grocery stores in colourful boxes with instructions and a plastic pot. The idea is to force the bulb into bloom and then throw it away. But in Holland, home to all things horticulture, the massive bulbs  are grown to such a size they promise to produce multiple blooms. They are the size of an enormous onion. And they are simply piled on top of  themselves like oranges. No box, no instructions. I wanted one but of course plant materials can’t be brought to Canada from overseas. So I move along.

I see new luggage and I wonder who goes to the airport to buy luggage? Looking around it seems like everyone already has luggage and lots of it.  In fact the only luggage I really really need is a purse. I  lost my purse on day two of this little vacation so I don’t have any cash or even a visa card to buy a new one. No point dwelling  but I do reach for the 3600.00 euro purses. As I pick one up a clerk comes rushing over to help me.  I guess in my tired final-day of the trip clothes and backpack I don’t look like the kind of person with the kind of money to buy the kind of purse this specialty store is selling.

And that’s when I see the flower shop. Big fluffy roses packed into luxurious bundles combined with a plant we usually eat for supper. Yes, it’s true. The roses are bundled with tall stems of colourful kale. Kale leaves had been stripped almost to the top of the stem and the kale heads are in proportion to the roses. The kale I grow at home can be the width of a whole bouquet but these are delicate and long-stemmed, like the roses. Sold individually or in bundles of mixed flowers the kale is confusing me, And then a friend pops on my facebook feed to tell me this is a special variety. Born to be small. And used as a flower, not a vegetable.

According to my flower-farmer friend in Calgary, Patty Bretin, the  variety of tiny kale I am ogling is called Crane. It is grown from seed especially for flower arrangements. So in fact I’m not just killing time at the airport, I am actively researching new varieties of vegetables to grow next year. Varieties I can turn into flower arrangements. Patty says she sometimes even puts this kale into outdoor flower pots for frost tolerant arrangements for commercial clients.

And that’s when I get the news. The plane isn’t just delayed. It is cancelled. We are herded off to a shuttle bus to wait out the night in what now seems now like a luxury hotel while our flights are rerouted away from Iceland and towards Edmonton and then Vancouver. I run out of time for research on this trip. Until I go to breakfast and find out it  is served in a greenhouse. But that’s a story for next time.



PS Do you have questions about Gardening? Join in the conversation on my facebook live event every Monday by clicking right HERE.

 Donna Balzer is the Brand Ambassador for BCGreenhouse Builders and she has two greenhouses in her big backyard.

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