The Globe Artichoke is a stunning perennial suitable for both the edible and ornamental garden. It’s large grey-green leaves add an architectural element to the garden and the large globe shaped buds open into an attractive purple bloom, which is loved by the bees. Vigorous, prolific, and hardy, this perennial is also edible and medicinal. The globes are harvested at about fist size and before they open, but the stems and fleshy leaf parts can also be eaten. Medicinally the artichoke is thought to have the one of the highest antioxidant levels of all vegetables. Cynarine is a chemical constituent in the Artichoke which is traditionally used to enhance liver function and as a digestive aid. It has also been used to treat chronic liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis and symptoms of diabetes. While the whole plant contains Cynarine, it is mostly concentrated in the leaves.
Artichokes are best grown in full sun in reasonably fertile and well-drained soil. They may flower in their first year but fully mature in their second year with the plants lasting 3 – 4 years before needing replacing. However, they can continue from side shoots and dividing every 2 –3 years will keep them producing. Cut back the stems in autumn and use in the compost or as mulch around the plants returning the nutrients to the plants. In cold areas mulching the plants well in late autumn can help protect plants from the cold winter weather. Globe artichokes can reach 1.8 m and have a spread of about 1 m so give them room to grow, planting about 60 cm+ apart in a group creates a stunning mass planting.
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