Published on 11/10/99

Grow Fall Garden for Palette and Palate

Now more than ever, the plants we use in fall and winter gardens can bless both the palette and the palate.

For years, pansies were all we had for winter planting, and they do give us a growing array of colors, flower faces and bloom sizes. Now, however, pansies have had to make room for exciting additions to their winter beds.

Within the past several years, many new plants have been added to the growing palette for fall and winter. Most of the new winter plants are edible, as are the blossoms of pansies.

Now, parsley is a mainstay, both curly and Italian flat leaf. Parsley adds a bright new dimension to beds with its unique, curled leaves and yellow-green color. It's best planted in the fall and will last throughout the winter in most of Georgia.

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Photo: Park Seed

Swiss Chard "Bright Lights"

Electric Swiss Chard

All of the beautiful Swiss chards have been added. Intense, electric stems in a marvelous range of colors on 15- to 20-inch plants make outstanding borders and accents in the garden.

But this is also a delicious vegetable -- succulent, sweet and highly nutritious, too. Cooked lightly like spinach, it retains its coloration for a gorgeous presentation on the plate.

In the "Bright Lights" series, stems come in a brilliant array of yellow, gold, pink, crimson, pink-and-white striped, orange, scarlet, purple, white and green.

With bright green leaves, it's easy to grow with full sun and good garden soil. Chard comes in crimson stalks, too, with bright green leaves.

Colorful Cabbages

Next comes the cabbage family. Beautiful ornamental cabbages are familiar now. And kales come in reds, pinks and white, both flat-leaf and curled, along with the Peacock series that's frilly-leafed.

Others include the Scotch curled kales and new thin-leaf kales that add variety to the garden. Red Giant mustard can really brighten up a fall bed, too, with its large maroon-red leaves with green-veined stalks.

Lettuces are also a good selection. Now, with their rich colors, you can grow Red Butterhead, Red Sails and both Red and Green Oakleaf, along with Burgundy Ice.

No one said you couldn't have your flower garden and eat it, too.

Wayne McLaurin is a professor emeritus of horticulture with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.