There’s a KD Lang song from way back about a Big Boned Gal who is largish and lovely and she can dance. She walked with grace as she entered the place, yeah that big boned gal was proud. I remembered that song – and that I love KD Lang – when thinking about large-leafed edible plants, how they bring vitality to the structure of a garden. Big bones.
The robust stature of many edible plants is as visually stunning as pricey exotics. Spiked artichoke leaves punctuate the garden with silvery green, as do Cardoons. Rhubarb’s leaves are expansive and fashionably ruffled over sturdy pink stalks. Brussel’s Sprouts, Rainbow chard, grapevines, horseradish. Fennel nearly year-round. Spectacular landscape material and you can eat it.
The leaves of Red Rupine Brussels Sprout plants are elegant and in the past I might have compared their leafy plumage to a ball gown. Planted where they can be seen from a window, a glance lifts the spirit when the season turns dark.
Early season grapevines dancing over the fence, and on the ground smaller versions of big-boned leaves in zucchini, any squash, bush beans and cucumbers. Sturdy pink-veined cabbage leaves form a protective bouquet around its fruit.
Dramatic blossoms too, zucchini and artichoke among others.
So we’re inching our way to more and more edibles in the garden because we like growing some of our own food and because, dang, they are handsome.
Bottom line though, they’re food. Don’t name them or give them your whole heart. They’re plants, we get to love em’ and eat em’.
Gardening Books, NY Times June 6, 2011
Each of these edibles have been featured in recipes in previous postings.
Fennel: Cut stalks and place a bundle beneath large pieces of salmon when grilling indirectly. Delicious smoky infusion.