Not only do they look good, they're extraordinarily good for you. Packed with vitamins A, C, E, manganese and zinc, they offer a whole range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and are a good source of calcium and vitamin K for bone health.
No wonder Thrive, the gardening therapy charity grows them. They're fun to grow and great to eat. The flower bed is part of a lovely, varied garden at their HQ in Beech Hill near Reading, maintained by the people they help.
Thrive is a charity that uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health. They also work with people who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.
The other two photos are of their Battersea centre, which I visited earlier in the summer, where volunteers created these easy-to-work table height flower beds.
As most of us know who use this site, an afternoon's gardening has a remarkable way of making you feel healthier and happier. Thrive therapists utilise this to design tailored programs for each individual. Methods involve exercise to improve strength or mobility; giving a sense of purpose and achievement; connecting with others and reducing feelings of isolation or exclusion; acquiring new employable skills; and just being outside in touch with nature to give a sense of well being. It's remarkable work and well worth checking out their site: www.thrive.org.uk and their Grower page on GreenPlantSwap.
As for the Swiss Chard, there's nothing Swiss about them. They were grown by the Greeks and the Romans who prized them for their medicinal properties. The name chard apparently comes from the French 'carde' which they also used for Cardoons, a much larger, celery-like plant. They are part of the Beet family (Beta vulgaris) and one of the most rewarding vegetables to grow.
Plant seed or plugs between March and July in rich, well-drained soil and water steadily through the season. They'll survive drought, but keep it steady and they are less likely to bolt. You can either take leaves from time to time for the kitchen or crop them to the ground. They should give three good harvests and meanwhile fill the garden with brilliant colour. They are happy plants indeed.