HI Jessica! I am sorry I did not see this post sooner - I love growing and eating kale - yum yum!
Ornamental kale (the type you buy in the garden center) is edible - in that it is not poisionous - but it is very bitter (and may be sprayed with whatever they typically spray ornamentals with). There are many other equally beautiful kale varieties that (to me) taste much more delicious. For example, any of the "red" varieties ('red winder' a.k.a 'red winter', 'red russian, and 'redbor') will give you that dusty purplish cast that you may be seeking out in your garden, but with a much sweeter and more tender leaf for eating (as well as being much more prolific that the ornamental "heads of kale").
A truly magnificent looking and tasting kale is 'nero di toscano' or 'cavalo di nero' - its first purpose is as an edible kale, but it is one of nature's most striking plants...and very large. A nearby display garden grows this one and the resident cats like to rest in its shade!
Even the more humble varieties, which I grow for their compactness and flavor, like 'dwarf blue curled' are to me attractive in an understated sort of way. The way the water beads on their leaves is so pretty and gives them a lot a charm.
My gardening season has come to an end, but maybe you live in warmer place that can sustain kale year round. If you have trouble finding kale or kale seeds in the store, just let me know - I collected seeds from my red and dwarf vareties and would be happy to share. Also, even though it may look like your kale has died over the winter, if you let it be, in the spring it will literally become a shrub of yellow flowers totally unlike the original leafy plant - its amazing to see it bloom!
Oh wow Beary you are so knowledgeable about kale. I am currently in Seattle dreaming about how to create a beautiful vegetable garden. It's only just started to warm up here. We had a frigid and long Winter. May I please, please have a little of the kale seeds that you are happy to share plus any growing tips too. I am a garden ingenue so I need all the wisdom you can provide. Abundance to you,
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