Cabbages and Kings

Blame it on the rapidly approaching Australian summer, the design world's fascination with foliage (witness the number of collections inspired by horticulture this year, such as H&M's S/S 2011 Raw Nostalgia range and Chanel's S/S 2011 collection, which was influenced by the gardens of Last Year at Marienbad), or just our move to the country and my new appreciation of the beauty of a hand-grown vegetable. Whatever the reason for it, I have become completely obsessed with gardens this year.

One vegetable, in particular, has become rather prominent in my cuttings and images. It's the humble cabbage, which really isn't humble at all, but rather magnificent. You only have to look at its lush dark layers  to see how magnificent it is. And I'm not the only one with a fondness for the star of the Brassicaceae family. (NB I prefer the Russian word for cabbage – капуста, or kapusta – which sounds like something a mafia head would threaten his enemies with. "If you don't pay up today, you'll get kapusta tomorrow, y'hear me?") King Louis XIV was also rather partial to a little cabbage leaf (as well as peas and pears), instructing his garden designer, Jean-Baptiste Le Quintinie, to ensure there were plenty of these in the royal potager at Versailles. As well, Lewis Carroll was fond of it, incorporating a now-famous "cabbages and kings" line into his poem, 'The Walrus and the Carpenter'. And John Cleese reportedly loves it so much he ordered 'bouquets' of it instead of flowers from a top London florist.

And then there is the dominance of cabbages in all things culinary. Think of the Cabbage Soup Diet, cabbage rolls, coleslaw, Asian vegetable rolls, saurkraut, and stir-fried cabbages and noodles. Not to mention the fact that it's extremely good for fixing hangovers and painful breasts.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the most inspirational cabbages seen this year.

Chateau Villandry, France. You may not believe me when I tell you that this entire garden in the Loire (below) is crafted from vegetables, and in particular cabbages. Shocked? So were we, when we saw it in person for the first time. It is truly spectacular. Thousands of vegetables, including cabbages, artichokes and Swiss chard, are used as a decorative element, and the plantings change every year according to the colors and foliage desired. It's worth the airfare to France, trust me.

Hennes & Moritz's witty, whimsical S/S 2011 collection, entitled 'Raw Nostalgia'. So pretty. No wonder it sold out quickly.

'Rabbit & Lettuce' cushions, made from handprinted fabric produced by Thornback and Peel. {Photo courtesy} This gorgeous print reminds me of Peter Rabbit running from old Mr McGregor's garden...

A couture cabbage frock. How sensational is this dress? Perhaps not one for the Oscars, as it might start to wilt by the Vanity Fair party (and smelly cabbage isn't a good look when you're chatting to Jack Nicholson), but for a Vogue shoot on gardens, it would look magnificent. Grace Coddington would love it. {Via}

Cloris Leachman's ad for PETA. Okay, so this is two years old, but it's still gorgeous. Who would have thought a gown made from leafy greens could be so chic?

Cabbage bouquets. How beautiful do these look? Perfect for brides who love gardens or cooking! {Via} {Image at the very top of post is via}

Cabbages & Roses. One of London's loveliest stores, Cabbages & Roses specialises in romantic, English-style frocks, coats, homewares and fabrics. The King's Road store is a little treasure trove of charm and prettiness. But if you can't make it to King's Road, the Jigsaw stores also sell the Cabbages & Roses collections.

And the last word comes from The Independent, as always...

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