Container Gardens for Fall: A Hail to Kale

I’ve never been a huge fan of those ornamental cabbages you see at nurseries this time of year.  With their tight little perfect heads, they just look too contrived for my garden.

It’s the ornamental kales that usually get me.  With their coarse, looser leaves, they look a little more unstructured than the cabbage.  And there are so many varieties now.  They grow in plant zones 2 to 11.  Here in Seattle, zone 8, they usually work nicely as a cold-season annual.

Understated elegance

'Peacock White' ornamental kale with sedum underplanting
‘Peacock White’ ornamental kale with sedum underplanting

I love this one called ‘Peacock White.’ Here I just paired it with a trailing Stonecrop sedum (Spathulfolium ‘Carnea’) in a small pot for an understated, monochromatic look.

A showstopper

Then there is the striking Kale ‘Redbor’ (Brassica orelacea ‘Redbor’).  I love the purple coloring, which becomes more vibrant as the weather cools, providing a display of color all winter.

'Redbor' kale with sorrel, pansy and flowering kale
‘Redbor’ kale with sorrel, pansy and flowering cabbage

In this container, I used ‘Redbor’ kale, Rumex ‘Raspberry Dressing’ (a type of sorrel), a very sweet little ‘Coral Price’ flowering kale, a winter pansy, and a knotweed hybrid from my garden.  For a little more contrast, I also added some moss that I found in my garden and some florist’s preserved reindeer moss.*

Sweet and lowdown

I also got some small ‘Redbor’ kales to use an underplanting for the two large containers that sit on either side of the front porch steps.

Container gardens for fall: 'Redbor' kale with lemon cypress

The purple color of the kale is a striking contrast to the chartreuse green Wilma (Monterey) Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma Goldcrest’) in each container.

Since I usually put Christmas lights on the cypress shrubs in December, I took the opportunity to shear them into shape now so they could harden off before the first frost.  A fun task since this cypress gives off a fresh lemon scent when it’s being sheared.  In fact, it is also known as ‘Lemon’ cypress.

Then I added the kale to the containers. ‘Redbor’ kale can be planted deep.  I removed any leaves that looked ragged and planted the kales up to their bottom leaves.  I paired them with simple orange and black winter pansies.

Container gardens for fall: kale, pansies and cypress
Potted ‘Redbor’ kale with winter pansies and Monterey cypress

The cypress, the kale and the pansies all like well-drained soil, so I made sure the texture of the potting soil was not too heavy.

‘Redbor’ kale can get up to 3 feet tall, so these innocent-looking little babies could eventually try to take over the pots and crowd the cypress.

If that happens, but while the soil is still workable, I will transplant them into a flowerbed along one of our walkways, where we can still enjoy the dramatic purple color.  By then it should almost be time to wrap the cypress in Christmas lights anyway.

‘Redbor’ kale is classified as an ornamental kale, but it is edible.  The flavor is best after the plant has been hit by frost.  So if these kales get too out of hand, they are going into the frying pan!

I will leave you with the recipe, below, for my easy kale fritters.

 *The ‘Redbor’ kale and the sorrel in the second container shown above are edible, but I would not recommend using them for culinary purposes if, as shown in this example, they have been in a pot with preserved florist’s moss.

Heidi’s Super-Easy Kale Fritters

Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, here is my recipe for super-easy kale fritters.  This is a basic recipe that you can put your own spin on by adding onion, leeks, sweet peppers, or even canned corn.  Amounts are approximate and you can adjust them as you see fit, but it is best to use both eggs to help bind the batter.  Once you have the batter mixed, it won’t look like much and it certainly won’t look like something that would hold together in the frying pan.  But fear not, it will should work.


  • 2-1/2 cups washed and finely chopped kale
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup multigrain pancake mix (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of shredded cheese (Italian blend is best)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together except the butter and 1/2 tablespoon of the oil.  Heat a frying pan or griddle over the stove and add the butter and remaining oil to grease the pan.  Once the pan is hot, spoon out the mixture and smooth it into 4-inch pancakes.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until done.  Makes about 8 fritters.

Healthy and delicious!  I like to use ranch dressing as a dipping sauce for these fritters.


For chopping kale the easy way, I use a small KitchenAid chopper similar to this one.  I love it, especially since I don’t want to hassle with storing a larger food processor.


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3 Replies to “Container Gardens for Fall: A Hail to Kale”

  1. I love the look of kale as well. I planted it for it’s beauty and have quite a crop of it. Used a little in salad, but haven’t won hubby over yet. lol! A 6 pack was pretty inexpensive, so if it ends up being more ornamental than edible that’s okay. We are leaving for a trip, but when we get home I am going to try your fritters. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  2. I’m loving that purple kale with the pansies. You have totally inspired me to fill my hanging baskets with the combo. Thanks for sharing at Inspiration Thursday!

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