HEIRLOOM GARDENER

Captivating CARDOONS

WHEN IT COMES TO PLANTS that make a statement, few compare with cardoon. A stately ornamental edible topped with an otherworldly looking thistle, cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is a beauty to behold. It’s a close cousin to the artichoke (C. scolymus), with sprawling, spiky foliage that gives way to a tall, edible stalk topped with a striking, globeshaped purple flower.

Its violet flower and jagged, silvery foliage earned cardoon the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit from the U.K. Some would argue that its blossom is better left to the bees, because harvesting the stalk would ruin its beauty. Reaching a regal 5 to 6 feet tall, cardoon makes an excellent gateway to an herb or vegetable garden, or a backdrop for lower-growing grasses and perennials.

Cardoon is so glorious in full bloom that its culinary value can easily be overlooked. Its unusual visual

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