One of the more unusual vegetables here in Ireland is the artichoke. If you know about artichokes, then you either love them or hate them. My husband & I fall into the former category, and have been known to shout for joy while driving through artichoke fields in Britany.
It's unusual to find these vegetables for sale in supermarkets here, and when you do, they're often a bit old &amp;amp;amp;amp; dried out. But since the climate is not so different from Northern France, they grow quite well. So I have a couple of plants, grown from seed in my urban garden.
This year, my artichokes are coming up trumps, and delivering a second crop for 2005. So I'm waiting for the right moment to harvest & eat this delicacy. We eat them boiled, dippling the leaves into a mixture of mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar &amp;amp;amp;amp; dijon mustard.
My first encounter with the edible thistle was in San Francisco - they grow very well towards Santa Cruz & Monterey, and my hostess served them simply with freshly made mayonnaise. Unforgettable!
Artichokes are such a beautiful plant that it's not unusual to see them grown in front gardens as an architectural feature. But the owners don't harvest eat them, which seems to me to be a terrible waste. Although the flowers are also beautiful, and the seed heads are lovely rimed with a silvery frost.
Once you have managed to get a couple of artichokes growing, propagation is not a problem. One of my stalwarts was producing lots of shoots, so I took my trowel & prised off a few. Potted them up, and despite not having many visible roots, they seem to be thriving. I'll leave them in the pots overwinter, and find good homes for them in the spring. Perhaps a few architectural plants in the front garden....