19
September
2014

Ornamental Swiss Chard ‘Bright Yellow’

Chard-Yellow-00It’s hard to believe that it’s taken this long to think of Swiss chard as an ornamental—with such striking foliage it seems like a no-brainer. Big, glossy dark green leaves are crinkly, supplying an abundance of texture. Brightly-colored stalks add plenty of vertical interest to the autumn landscape and seasonal containers.

We grow ‘Bright Yellow’ for its glowing yellow stems and veins—they look intense against the dark green foliage. With such bold presence, it’s a vegetable that actually looks great in the front yard. Sure, you can eat it—but you’ll want to grow it for the color alone.

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Place it near plants with smaller, finer leaves to balance out the texture of a landscape bed or planter. The dark green leaf color adds contrast when set against plants in lighter, brighter shades of green. Plan a design with the ornamental chard at the edge so that the colorful stems are visible. Try ‘Bright Yellow’ with some colorful, low-growing pansies. Yellow pansies would pick up the yellow stems and veins of the chard for a unique, sleek autumn design.

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Unlike many ornamental vegetables, this one tastes as good as it looks. The spinach-like leaves of ‘Bright Yellow’ have a sweet, mild flavor and can be used in the kitchen as a tasty alternative to Popeye’s favorite food. Baby leaves are widely used in salad mixes, but we prefer to let the leaves mature—the bigger, the better as far as the landscape is concerned. We do still eat them, but the older leaves are better braised or sautéed with a little garlic, olive oil and lemon juice—for some zest, right in line with that vibrant yellow color. The stems can be prepared like celery or asparagus—we’re getting hungry just thinking about it.

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Swiss chard is a good beginner’s plant because it’s one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Set it in full sun and it will perform well regardless of poor soil, day length, temperature, or neglect. Cool temperatures are best, but it actually tolerates heat better than spinach does, if you don’t mind a few less leaves. It’s very cold tolerant and will even last through frosts until the temperature gets down into the mid 20s. Plants reach about 20 inches tall.

‘Bright Yellow’ is currently shipping in the 8-inch pot.

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