Despite the strong winds that are currently buffeting the house, and sweeping unhindered across the garden, the cardoons are still standing strong. I cannot help but admire their structure and steadfast nature.
I love their giant leaves with serrated edges, the older stems as thick as my wrist, creating a canopy beneath which the cats like to shelter, and seemingly immune to being toppled by the wind.
The new leaves come through a pale silvery-lime green, becoming deeper and darker as they age.
While those plants have yet to flower, there are two others further down the garden which sent up strong stems topped with striking globe-shaped buds. The scales, mottled with burgundy, gradually open as the bud splits at the top to reveal the first glimpse of purple within.
I must confess that it was the spectacular flowers that first caught my eye on a visit to Painswick Rococo Gardens last year, and for which I sowed these seeds, but more and more I find myself drawn also to the structure of the plant as a whole, with its architectural foliage and buds. I suspect we will need to remove one or two of the four plants that are currently in this border, as they do fill a large space, but I hope those that remain will form a fine backdrop to this border next summer, with more seasonal flowers for the bees to enjoy.
We have yet to explore their edible nature, but apparently the young buds can be eaten much like artichokes, while the leaves can be wrapped in straw and tied for three weeks to blanch the stems which are more commonly eaten on these plants. Something to try next year, perhaps.