C. cardunculus. This striking perennial heirloom is grown as an ornamental artichoke but its leaf stalks and stems are edible. It grows at least 1.2m (4’) tall for a stunning Mediterranean look with large silvery-green, deeply-cut leaves and thistle-like flowers of rich, royal purple. Its flowers are highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Thick stems, steamed and seasoned, are an old-world treat. The unopened flower buds make unusual cut flowers.
Matures in 150-210 days. (Open-pollinated seeds)
It takes some work and a lot of patience to grow artichokes from seed, but it’s worth the effort. Commercial culture is limited to warm areas hardiness zone 7 and above. Artichokes require good soil, regular watering and feeding, plus frost protection in winter. Before frost, cut back to 15cm (6″) tall and mulch with soil, straw or leaves to keep the root from freezing. Uncover in April. Offshoots of these plants should be set out in the spring, so that the older plants can be replaced after a few years. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Artichokes from Seeds Guide and grow food.