Allegedly, cabbages have been around since the 1600s, and they are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. I’ve only shown red cabbages here, but the project works just as well with white and Savoy varieties—I adore the ribbed frilliness of the dark green Savoys. In fact, en masse, a mix of different cabbages looks sensational.
What’s so clever about cabbages as vases is that the layers of leaves act as natural, ready-made drainage. So whatever you plant in the middle should, in theory, have an equally good chance of living as long as it would in its original pot. I wanted to keep these particular displays quite tonal, so I chose to plant them with cream and dark purple pansies. But, on a crazier day, I would perhaps use hot-pink primulas, and for Christmas, fuchsias and cyclamen.
After a week or so, the cabbages may start to look a bit sad and floppy, especially if the room is quite warm. To perk them up, simply peel back a few layers—the leaves underneath will look as good as new. Ripping the leaves will give a bright white edging and also introduce some texture.
Look after the plants in the same way as you would if they were planted in a regular plant pot. Water them every few days and try not to let them get too hot. I found the pansies were incredibly hardy and even when they looked on the brink of no return, after a good drink they obligingly sprang back to life again—several times, in fact.
You will need
- Newspaper or protective sheet
- Medium to large red cabbage
- Small, very sharp knife
- Small spoon
- Potted pansy plant
- Potting compost
Lay out the newspaper or protective sheet and stand the cabbage on top. Using the knife, score a square large enough to accommodate the pansy plant on the top of the cabbage. Position the square as centrally as you can so the plant won’t appear lopsided.
Cut out the square with the knife, peeling back layer after layer as you dig down—you are essentially making a square hole.
Dig down as far as you need, according to the size of the plant. After a while, it will become easier to dig out the filling with the spoon rather than the knife.
Remove the pansy from its pot and drop it into the hole. If the plant is too big, gently break off some of the smaller outside roots and shake off any excess potting compost. If the hole is too big, fill in any gaps around the plant with compost.
Push the plant in tightly so that it feels snug and secure, and give it a quick drink of water.
The Art of Living with Nature by Willow Crossley is avaible to buy from Amazon for £13.48.