This is the optimum time to start planting some of your seeds. Certain varieties require more days in the pot prior to lining out in your garden so check your list. Some garden All-Stars worth discovering are Cardoon and Artichokes.
Cardoon is a great plant to use in your border as an accent or near Leeks and purple Kale in your vegetable garden. Its sculptural silver foliage is a real eye-catcher. Whether grown in your veggie patch or your perennial border, use your imagination. As with many silver foliaged plants, they compliment the bold, hot colors. In the right location with good, rich soil, Cardoon can reach six feet tall so allow it elbow room. Some people produce the Cardoon for its edible leaf stocks and roots. It is a favorite of Chef Mario Batali. In the Colonial American vegetable garden, it was an important staple. It is worth adding to your list of unique collectibles.
As for the ‘filet mignon’ of the plant world, artichokes take the grand prize. Start your artichokes early and use annual varieties. Some people are successful growing artichokes even in the Northern areas like Vermont. There are subtle tricks on how to get the artichoke to flower in one season. Hence, the reason you must start your seeds early. Even if you don’t get a flower, the foliage is stunning.
Can you pick out the Cardoon? Hint - it's the tallest plant.
Photo and design/planting by Greg Bilowz
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)