I love eating globe artichokes and they are a firm favourite with the family too. They are a classic holiday dish which we usually eat hot from the pan, unwrapping the hearts, leaf by delicious leaf.
So it’s not too surprising that we grow them at home in the vegetable patch. However, I no longer kid myself that we will be eating any of the glorious homegrown heads. I’ve been well and truly put off after numerous dinners containing boiled blackfly deep in the leaf crevises. Yes, every year the heads invariably get covered by blackfly, but shortly afterward the initial invasion the bugs disappear. I have always put this clearance down to the large numbers of bluetits (and relatives) who visit the garden, but it is sadly too late for pleasant edibility.
I continue to grow them because I love their drama when they flower: 10 foot high, massive purple thistles, who could resist? I usually cut some of the flowers for a summer vase, but I know from experience that the heads are tremendously heavy and the vase must be substantial!
However, what I really love about the flowers is their attraction for pollinating insects, because the flowers are positively encrusted with pollen. Just look at this early morning shot showing how thick the pollen is:
The bee that seems to have been enjoying them the most this year is the Leaf-Cutter bee. I’ve hardly ever seen this bee in the garden before, but this summer we have lots. (I’d like to put that down to the drilled tree stumps that I made earlier and stacked on the ground, but there is no evidence of nests in them to support this.) I have been in stitches watching them rub their bodies, particularly their tummies, over the flowers as they dive in deep for nectar.
So, without further ado, I’d like to share some photos of their antics: