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Perennial kale and collards – quite a collection

Perennial kale is one of our greatest obsessions and after starting off with some Daubenton, variegated Daubenton ‘Panache’ and some Taunton Deane kales, we have been busy gathering other specimens for our perennial brassica botanical garden. We have added five more perennial brassicas to our collection over the last two years. Purple Tree Collards, Spis Bladene, Egloskerry Kale, Carole Wellwood’s kale and an undetermined sort of thousand headed kale.

Spis Bladene came from Alison Tindale at The Backyard Larder and she says ‘This a kale that I have yet to grow to maturity but I have read that it has good flavour, and good perennial tendencies, even after flowering. Of unknown origin, it doesn’t really have a name but has become known as Spis bladene (Danish for ‘eat the leaves’) as that was the instruction written on the packet sent to the Heritage Seed Library by a donor from Denmark’. So we will be growing that one on and observing what it does.

Egloskerry perennial kale is one that came to us from a chap in Egloskerry, near Launceston, Cornwall. In the middle of a talk we were giving he jumped up, shot out of the building and returned clutching a great clump of perennial kale, claiming that it was an old perennial Cornish kale from the Launceston region. No idea if this is true, but it has certainly lived up to expectations, having been growing happily now for two years. It looks similar in nature to a Daubenton kale but has a more compact and upright habit, and no sign of flowering so far.

Carole Wellwood’s kale, is one we have named ourselves, given to us by botanist Carole Wellwood! Alleged to have originated in Ken Fern’s garden. It is more like a large loose leafed sprawling cabbage, and has delicious leaves. It has flowered, but continues to grow after being cut back a little bit. We can’t think what else to call it, as it is impossible to identify it exactly.

Our other perennial kale of unknown origin, which we shall call ‘Thousand headed Kale’ came to us from a friend’s allotment. He was giving up his patch and leaving it behind, so of course we got the secateurs out and made lots of cuttings right away.

Our Taunton Deane kales have turned into the most enormous specimens, almost 3m wide as they approach their fourth year. The demand for perennial kale cuttings and plants has gone a little bit crazy these last few months. So we are busy planting out more stock plants for propagating material to try and meet demand. We think it is brilliant that there has been such a surge in interest and are doing our best to keep up.

Egloskerry kale from the Cornish village of Egloskerry, near Launceston, thought to be the ancient Cornish perennial kale of Launceston…

Carole Wellwood’s kale named after botanist Carole Wellwood and thought to have originated from Ken Fern’s garden.

A type of ‘Thousand Headed’ perennial kale

Taunton Deane

A four year old Taunton Deane perennial kale, now 3m wide with a thick tree like stems, still producing an abundance of tasty leaves.

Purple Tree Collard

A majestic Purple Tree Collard approaching 2m tall underplanted with perennial leeks.

Purple Tree Collard

A line of Daubenton kales

Daubenton perennial kale

One of our striking variegated Daubenton perennial kales, also known as ‘Panache’.

“Thanks for everything, the info sheet was great. I planted the cuttings the day they arrived and have just multi sown the 9 star in seed trays. All very exciting, we’re now planning our perennial area.”

“You are right, perennial kale is fantastic! Thanks so much for the cuttings. I am a convert to having a corner of perpetual kale in the patch!”

“As the evening sun back lit the plants at Incredible Vegetables, I felt I was standing in one of the most important gardens of our time. Wildflowers working alongside an abundance of edimentals and perennial vegetables. A ‘food glade’ to rival the aesthetic of our greatest plant designers.”

– Jon Davies, garden designer, London Glades –

“I love your website and the work you’re doing. What you’re doing is exiting, useful, and one day will help to replace and enhance what human kind has damaged.With that our natural friends will return and we’ll be better for it.”

“Mandy, thank you. I am delighted with this plant – it is so strong and healthy and exceptionally well packaged – all done with loving care obviously. I shall look forward to having more plants from you.”

“Plants all arrived lovely and are growing well. I just wanted to say i was very impressed with the quality of the cuttings.. and its been a pleasure dealing with you. And I look forward to any purchases in the future.”

“The kale cuttings you sent survived the winter and are thriving. Thank you Mandy Barber you are the super hero of edibles, loving your work!!”

“I bought some Skirret seed’s off you last year. Well they grew and yesterday some got cooked and this message is just to say, they were delicious. Looking forward to a lot more next year. Thank you.”

“The Taunton Dean cuttings arrived a short while ago and never have I seen healthier looking cuttings! They are now firmly ensconced in some nice compost and are having a good drink. I even loved the packaging, which will be composted.”

“Hi I just wanted to let you know that I sowed half of my Caucasian spinach seeds and every single one grew, absolutely amazed, thanks for the seeds and keep up the good work.”

“Just to let you know that the lovely healthy looking plants arrived. Your plants are simply outstanding, every single tuber and plant are growing amazingly.”

“The plants arrived safely, I did not expect such magnificent specimens! I didn’t think I would be successful at stratification etc but I now have a whole bunch of Hablitzia seedlings sprouting after following your excellent advice.”

“Just to say, the Daubentons Kale is in the ground and looking well – thanks to the lovely damp compost encasing its roots…you do a good job at your end, I can tell by the way you package. Will be back for more of your wonderful perennials.”

“Thank you so much for all the vegetables, they really are incredible. I’m sure I’ve never before seen a healthier rootball than the one that arrived with our happy looking daubentons kale, and seeds and tubers are thriving thanks to all the useful information provided.”

“Thank you so much for sending such wonderful, healthy and very large plants. They are beautiful !! You packaged them so well and they arrived so quickly – I couldn’t get to the post office till the following day but they were absolutely fine. They’re now potted up and sitting in my ‘cold’ greenhouse while they adjust.”

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Mandy and Julien

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