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Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says

  • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
  • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
  • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
  • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says

Last summer we helped a fine, senior plantswoman create a Grower page and list her plants. She is Patricia Marrow, who has been selling plants from her Somerset garden for more than 50 years. As some may know it was she who introduced, quite by accident, the lovely oriental poppy 'Patty's Plum'. As others who have been to her garden may also be aware, she renounced plant labels as 'not necessary' quite a few years ago. So listing plants for GreenPlantSwap was not the easiest task.

Anyway at the end of a hot afternoon, I asked if I could buy a few plants. She happily agreed, until the last plant. 'Oh that's a weed' she said. 'You can have that for nothing.'

So the weed came home and was planted. One year on this scrap of a plant, with barely a root, is a majestic 2m Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus.

It has huge silver-grey deeply cut leaves that form the ribs of a monster, vase-shaped plant. At the top are great, thistly globes from which, just now, violet-purple flowers are sprouting.

If ever a plant needed space, this is it. You almost feel it would reach out and belt you one if you didn't give it room. I love it.

The Cardoon also delivers in other ways. The leaf stems of Cynara cardunculus, and flower buds of Cynara scolymus (artichoke), are both edible. Plus the seeds of the artichoke have recently attracted attention as a possible source of biodiesel.

It's some weed Mrs Marrow. This plant is a force to be reckoned with .. if you have the space that is. The RHS concur and gave it an Award of Garden Merit.

Comments (11)

  1. Grower

    steve black

    nice tale there thanks for sharing

  2. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    Fab plant :-)

  3. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    I wouldn't be without my Cardoon.

  4. Grower

    Will DB

    Lovely write up. I hope I can visit the wonderfully named Mrs Marrow's garden and nursery sometime, she and her plants look well worth the visit!

  5. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    I thought I'd share a picture of my Cardoon with you all.

    • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
  6. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    What a fabulous display Angie! I did wonder if someone north of the border would join the post, even if it's not the original Scottish thistle. For some reason even the name Cardoon sounds Scottish to me.

    In fact the plant comes from the Mediterranean area and like Mrs Marrow, not everyone's a fan. I've seen it described as being like 'prehistoric celery', or 'celery on a bad day'. Though I guess that's a little kinder than calling it a weed;-)

  7. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Certainly not a weed in my garden Jeremy - in fact, thistles, should they seed in the garden, get pulled immediately!

    My plant is now in it's fourth year - so this is what you can look forward to in a year or so :)

  8. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Depths of January and I came across this photo of the flowers on our Cardoon in full fling back in the Summer. The plant doesn't like the cold winter weather we have now any more than I do, but you kind of know it'll muscle back in for the Spring.

    • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
  9. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Our Cardoons just did their final 'collapse' of the season. They do tend to become very big and ragged at the end. Does anyone have any smart ideas for visually attractive Cardoon supports?

  10. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Unfortunately I haven't Jeremy. Personally I surround them with plants that still look good late in the year and this helps hide the strong wooden stakes I get in the ground early in the year. Let us know if you find anything. I suppose if you were a dab hand with a welder you could create something really attractive.

  11. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    At the Eden Project last week I saw this very simple solution to the problem above. Trim back all the branches so you have single stems and keep the flower heads on. They look good to me ... and you keep the 'structure' of the plants in the garden through to winter.

    • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
    • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says
    • Give room to a Cardoon, whatever Mrs Marrow says

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