Ornamental Kale: The Cabbage That’s Eating Brooklyn Heights

Brassica oleracea is showing up everywhere in the neighborhood, as a survey by your correspondent today indicates. With its mix of white and colors and variety of leaf shapes (see photo, taken in the courtyard of Grace Church) it’s an eye-catching addition to gardens and window boxes. More photos after the jump.

Henry Street, between Joralemon and Remsen.

In front of City Chemist, Montague Street at Henry.

Henry Street, between Joralemon and State.

Joralemon Street, opposite Willow Place.

Remsen Street, near Clinton. The photo above was taken on January 9 of this year.

Same location, January 22.

Same location, February 29. Like the Brooklyn Bridge cactus, these are hardy plants.

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  • AEB

    Of all human folly, surely the planting of vegetables as decor is the greatest.

  • http://chucktaylorblog.blogspot.com/ nystrele

    fun post, claude! nicely done.

  • tljla

    I would see this throughout Chicago during the winter…nice to see it here in BH while experiencing my first “winter” here!

  • bhres

    hardy though it may be, it’s still a bizarre choice for plantings. surely there is an alternative!

  • Zack

    There are also two large, freestanding planters flanking the entrance to 136 Hicks that are full of the stuff (and have been for at least two years). I’m actually not a fan, and have long assumed that they’re chosen more for how little maintainence they require than for how (un)attractive they are. But it’s interesting to learn that they’re kale! I had always assumed ordinary cabbage.

  • Reggie

    Zack, little but not no maintenance. When the plants start to look like the examples in the first and third pictures, the drooping leaves should be removed. If not, the plants soon begin to look unkempt.

  • J

    @Zack.. are you talking about those smelly plants in front of 136 Hicks? Of course they don’t need maintenance.. They’re dead!

  • Gerry

    It must be a slow news day?

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Quote from the NYTimes about kale and the Park Slope Coop Maniacs:

    It was the late 1980s, long before the affluent enclaves of Brooklyn had become an ever-expanding temple to all the different things that might be done with Tuscan kale.


  • stuart

    people use these in corny ways but they are really beautiful plants when you really look at them. I especially like the ones with lacy leaves.

  • harumph

    sorry, but I find them rather ugly. the first time I ever saw these used as garden garnishes was in the plantings surrounding a gas station up north. didn’t like them then (actually laughed) and don’t like them now. mind you, I love to eat kale, just not into seeing it as ‘beautifying’ the nabe.

  • GordonHawk

    one blooming on Court Street.. having lived through the lovely winter but I can’t post it’s picture here