Plants newsletter #1.
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Plant of the month: Kale, Brassica oleracea


One of the most attractive autumn plants are the decorative varieties of kale (Brassica oleracea v. decorative). The leaves, which are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior of the rosette are ideal replacement for the fading summer flowers. The kale is suited for pots or small containers for the balcony, or planted directly as a border plant. Combined with heather and Indian chrysanthemum decorative kale could be used to build large scale compositions for the parks. The kale will keep its colourful leaves util first snow or until the temperature is above -10C.

For centuries Japanese gardeners create many new kale (known as aojiru) varieties and use them for decoration. Kale are biennials, but they are used as decorative plants only at the end of the first year when the typical colour forming is initiated after the autumn temperature starts falling.

How to grow

Ideally grow in a deep, well-drained soil in full sun although it will tolerate poor soil and partial shade. Provide shelter from strong winds. Keep always moist.
Slugs love kale, so keep them out. Remove any weeds around the kale.

Links: Ornamental Cabbage from Missouri Botanical Garden


Seasonal task - preparing Gladiolus bulbs for the winter


After a gladiolus flower spike is done blooming, the plant concentrates its energy into the corm at the base of the stem. Gladiolus bulbs, or corms, aren’t hardy through frozen winter months. October and November is the perfect time to dig them out and store them until spring.

For the proper gladiolus winter care, one should wait until the foliage fades after the first frost. Corms may overwinter in the ground in warmer regions if covered with a protective layer of straw or bracken, but flowering may be late and/or poor in the following year.

  gladioli bulbs

Don’t disturb the corm with garden fork. Pull the plant by its dried leaves and shake it gently to remove any loose dirt. You may see some miniature corms growing on the bottom. They can be planted next spring together with the other corms. In few years they will grow into full-sized plants.

Keep the corms in a warm, dry place for about two weeks to allow them to dry out completely. Thereafter cut off the dead foliage. Store the dried corms in old newspapers in a dry cold place.


What's new with Plants app

Plants tasks

Our Plants team takes accessibility very seriously. When we shipped Plants version 1.0 we skipped accessibility deliberately, because we could not find a satisfactory way to explain common gardening tasks and plant descriptions to the visually impaired. Since the first release of the app we often thought about how to implement accessibly. A trivial implementation (just making labels, buttons, text elements, and other user interface controls "speakable") is not enough to bring the same joy plants and gardening can bring to a sighted person. We now believe to have a solid concept how to implement accessibility right.

With the next version of Plants (version 1.1) we will introduce some of our novel ideas. Complete descriptions of gardening tasks and places to keep the plants is just a beginning. Every plant will have a special description written for people with low vision or completely blind. And plant properties will be completely accessible too. Instead of marking hardiness with one, two, or three snowflakes, we will described that particular plant can for example survive -10C in the winter, or we will describe how wet on touch the soil should feel.

A special attention not found anywhere else will be taken about the colourblind. For them Plants will label images with the interesting or dominant colours of flowers, foliage, bark, etc.

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