Kale. We all know that kale reached superfood status a few years ago. Whether you enjoy it in your morning vitamix or as an afternoon snack in the form of spiced and dehydrated chips, kale is everywhere... including in a few of my arrangements this past month.
Lately, I have been enjoying checking out the local flowers available from Ontario growers, gorgeous monkshood, delphinium, lisianthus, dahlias and sunflowers are abundant, but local foliage can be tougher to come by. There are so many beautiful and inspiring botanical bits available at the St. Lawrence Market and I have been trying to challenge myself to use more unconventional flora in my arrangements. Up and down the aisles I searched for long stemmed purple basil or rosemary but everything seemed to be cut short because really, does your pesto demand foot long stems of basil? Then, like a subtle sign from God...
Lucky for my foliage hunt, BEAUTIFUL curly kale has been bursting from the vendors' stalls all October long. Firm and dense, textural leaves in light frilly-green and dark, eggplanty-purple sat on surprisingly long stems. They were beautiful... but would kale hold up like a foliage? Ornamental kale (or cabbage or brassica as I've seen it labeled - you know, those cabbage rosettes on long, thick stems?) holds up very well in the vase if you can excuse the growing cabbage-water smell that comes with it, but bred-for-human-consumtion-and-not-decorative-autumn-planters kale? Would that be vase worthy?
Well, I can tell you that the texture is incredible! But freshness, as with any cut flower or foliage is key. The stuff that was super firm, so firm that the edges almost felt sharp, held up the best. If a stalk had leafy curls that were even remotely soft to the touch (meaning it wouldn't hurt if you got slapped in the face with it) then it went limp within a day or two. The leaves that were hard as a rock from the beginning lasted for days and days and maintained their full body and colour. I kept a few of the inner-most leaves on the main stalks and used them directly in water and they kept the best, staying firm way past a week. I have to note, however, that the leaves that went limp, did so gracefully, curving and dipping over the lip of my container.
Now that we are into November, I'm thinking my kale obsession will wind down in favour of winter evergreens... I'm sure they are just around the corner!!