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.