Thursday, January 3

From small seeds giants grow

Back in 2006 we sowed some seeds. We wanted to grow something ornamental in one area of our plot. We already had a couple of globe artichokes, that we had inherited, growing on another part of the plot which were very decorative and much loved by the bees so when we saw something similar in an ornamental kitchen gardens that we visited we decided to try growing some of this plant from seed. (The garden in the photo below is at Doddington Hall).
The plant was a cardoon. We knew  that the plant would eventually grow very large but we were wrong. There was no eventually in it. By the end of it's first season it was already the same size as the artichoke plants and we had quite a few plants. 
We decided four plants were more than enough so planted one in each corner of one part of our plot. The flowers are a smaller version of a globe artichoke and  the bees and other insects love them just as much.
The only problem with growing such tall plants on the plot is that they often fall victim to strong winds which completely flatten them.
They also take up quite a large amount of space and so we have now only two remaining plants. 

Each year it is touch and go whether they survive the winds each year all the top growth dies down and new shoots spring up the following year. If the top growth does fall victim to the wind then it makes good composting material.

2012 was fairly kind to the cardoons and so I was able to leave the seed heads on to provide a bit of winter interest.
Already new growth is appearing at the base of the plant.
You can actually braise the leaf stalks of cardoons and can also eat the flower buds in the same way as artichokes but we have never tried and are unlikely to. We'll just keep growing them as ornamentals and for the pollen loving insects.

I just find it amazing that such a huge plant started life as a small seed and that each year the plant rises from the ground to tower above my head. 



Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

17 comments:

  1. It's such a shame that the wind flattens them like that. I suppose you could stake them.

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    1. They're just so huge Jo. About 3m high (about 9') and about 1.5m across (about 4.5') Brackets for our friends from the US.

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  2. Your plot was looking so abundant! I think I may try and grow artichokes this year :o)

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    1. Hi Jome (or is it Josephine)I seem to have missed your move to the new blog so I'll have to do some catching up and edit my bloglist.

      If nothing else artichokes are great for the bees and in a garden setting as, you now garden in, provide good ornamental plants. They don't grow as huge as the cardoons.

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    2. I've just noticed that I did visit your new blog in the beginning but forgot to add you to my bloglist which meant that I missed new posts. I've put that right now!

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  3. They really are magnificent aren't they - too big for my plot though.

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    1. They do take up a big space Elaine.

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  4. Wow the Cardoons are awesome! Your plot looks very nice in the summer : )

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    1. The summery photo with the flattened cardoon was taken in 2009 Anna. As it was the last time I took a photo of the flattened plant. This summer it wasn't as nice!

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  5. Absolutely stunning, but wouldn't last very long at Bag End. Last week the wind was so strong that ~I~ could barely walk down the garden, definitely not "cardoon friendly"

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    1. They certainly wouldn't last long in that sort of wind Bilbo

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  6. It's really huge plant! Very beautiful too!

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  7. One of those would just about fill my garden, all on its own! I agree that they are very picturesque though, and very much the sort of thing for a stately home. I think they are quite popular as a vegetable in Italy. I seem to remember seeing Antonio Carluccio eating them somewhere.

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    1. Certainly not a small/medium garden plant, Mark. They'd dwarf our garden too.

      Do you remember whether he used the stems or flower buds?

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  8. Cardoons were on my wishlist of plants to grow here until I fully appreciated the way the wind funnels through and flattens things. Think I had better wait for my shelter belt to develop a little further before I give one a go, and I think one is all I could cope with, what magnificent plants they are.

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    1. They are huge Janet - too large for our garden

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