Last week, while driving home from Virginia Beach, I stopped at a little garden center called "Bloomers". When passing by before, I always had one excuse or another for not stopping -- in a hurry, it wasn't planting season -- you know how that goes. But, it was a gorgeous day and their display of lush, green plants was enticing me to stop. So, I did. My dog was in the car (coming back from the vet's) but it was wonderfully breezy, so I lowered the windows to let him enjoy it. He didn't seem to mind, as he was sleeping peacefully in the back seat!
Almost immediately, I gravitated to the artichoke plants! Anything with large, toothy grey-green leaves is bound to get my attention. Looking down, this is what I saw...doesn't it seem as if it has a little baby face, eyes closed in slumber? Perhaps I have an overactive imagination, or am just a glutton for a sweet new plant! Home, it came (along with some French tarragon and thyme).
Years ago, when my garden was new, I tried to grow globe artichokes. The plants were very young and didn't last through the winter, despite mulching for protection. However, at some point, I noticed the neighbors behind me were raising some in their tiny, but very sweet garden (mostly flowers and herbs). Hmmmm....that must mean they can be successfully grown here!
The plant I selected is at least a two-year old plant, or it would not have a bloom. Hopefully, this might mean that it is a bit sturdier than its' predecessors. From my research and past experience, it should do well in our sandy soil, as long as it is watered sufficiently. I will plant it in a spot where it will get a bit of shade from our hot summers and a break from the wind in the winter.
For the record, Santa Cruz, California, is regarded as the globe artichoke capital of the world. Brought to the area by Italian immigrants, they thrived in the temperate climate of the area. The edible portion of the plant is actually the immature flower bud, and we actually eat the thick base of each flower bract, in addition to the heart or base. If not harvested, the bud will bloom into a thistle-like flower (artichokes are closely related to thistles). In areas with a longer growing season than mine, the plant can be cut back for a second harvest.
Wish me luck!