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HELEN LANG: Spectacular globe artichokes

For those of you not familiar with this rather magnificent plant, it really is spectacular

Home again after a pleasant visit with my brother. While there we were asked to view Greta’s garden. She is an avid gardener, living right beside the sea which, of course,  makes it even lovelier.

She also grows unusual things such as Verbascum. I was interested to see she also has globe artichokes in one of her flower beds. For those of you not familiar with this rather magnificent plant, it really is spectacular.

Years ago my eldest daughter and husband built a big house in White Rock and I got to design their front yard. We put in a half-circle driveway with a large raised bed in the middle, between the house and the road. In this I planted several globe artichokes which were so spectacular that people used to stop and go in and ask what they were.

I grew them one year in our vegetable garden in Sidney, but they took up more room than I could spare, especially as we never did manage to enjoy the fruit. It was always too messy,every green petal had to be dipped in butter, before being pulled between your teeth to release the pulp. It was yummy, but definitely not to be consumed in front of guests. The flowers are wonderful too, a marvelous blue with big flowers resembling large globe thistle blooms.

When I got home some of the big pots needed a drink but I was careful not to put too much on all at once. I recall a man, highly irritated with me when I had that small garden shop. He felt I had sold him some strange seed potatoes that developed hollow centres as they matured.

I assured him that it was not the potato’s fault, but that he had probaby let the plants get dry for some time before watering them again. He denied it, but his wife said, “Remember we were away for three weeks in July and they didn’t get watered, so when we got home you soaked them for an hour or more.”

He didn’t kill her then, but I’m not sure about later.


Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.