The mild weather has made all the difference in this winter’s garden. Not the usual vegetable patch, this garden has taken an artistic bent — literally. Rows swirl and twirl around mixing up ornamentals with vegetables. Maybe it’s not the best use of space, but we have to admit it is one of the prettiest vegetable gardens we’ve ever created. Plus there is more to come with tiny hollyhock and foxglove seedlings just getting ready to shoot up. And I just put in the tomato plants, though I expect I’ll have to cold-protect them as the forecast now has unexpected near-freezing temps predicted in two days. I really thought we were past all that.

For color we’ve added purple cabbage, purple kohlrabi, red and green leaf lettuces in a dazzling variety. There’s baby pak choi, though the flea beetles have had their way with them. Also we’ve got spinach, arugula, dill and rosemary, onions, snow pleas, strawberries, blue bonnets, a few geraniums, pansies, violas and nasturtiums. But one of the most extravagant items in the garden is red mustard. It’s not one of our favorites to eat, but whether it’s eaten or not makes absolutely no difference. This stuff just shines and sparkles with color and texture.

Red mustard is bare none, one of the prettiest plants around. And oh, the texture! Thick and leathery, shiny leaves of a rich burgundy, bisected with chartreuse ribs just beg to be touched. Try this one for cool weather in any ornamental bed and watch the traffic come to a screeching halt. And unlike those tomatoes, red mustard is quite cold hardy, preferring cool weather.


red mustard