I grow plants mainly for cutting for arranging, not eating. Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus) and Artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are great for flower arranging on a grand scale, having architectural leaves beloved by those favouring more traditional designs. They are of course also loved by snails for their lunch! (The ones munching at my plants are certainly as big as those the French serve up for theirs! I tend to be a bit ruthless with them….enough said!) My original Cardoon has suffered far worse this year than the new one, but the variety of I have now has proper spines and I think they find it a bit intimidating! It was found at a visit to Great Dixter. What I thought was a small one (Cynara cardunculus Dwarf form) better suited to my size of garden has done a “topsy” and grown enormously. Maybe my soil is better!!!? So my advice is if your garden is small these are not the plants for you! The original is now up to 9’ and in flower! If space is not an issue they both make spectacular additions to a border as well as a flower arrangement. My artichoke is with the few vegetables I grow.
The leaves of both condition beautifully. Scrape away any leaf blade attached to the stem which would be under water. Cut with a knife rather than scissors. It is less damaging to the cellular structure allowing good water uptake. Floral foam requires a clean cut for easy placement - best cut twice to make a point. Their preference is water’ but once conditioned well they do not have any real objection to foam. They are fabulous feature material to frame focal flowers, spectacular in a vase on their own, and have a good vase life. The flowers are pretty spectacular too.
The little design in the photograph is so simple to do – straight sided glass bowl with two small leaves curled round to add support and two flowering heads cut very short just popped in. this is a great idea for those edible heads which ‘got away’! (Wonderful dinner party centrepiece and serve artichokes for starters….!)
1 My Cardoon earlier in the year...about 7' at that stage
2 The dwarf form!!
3 Ditto in flower now - very spiky!
4 The little flower arrangement described above