Plant of the Week - Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon)
Eye Candy Credentials - It might seem slightly odd to have this summer flowering species as plant of the week, but the new leaves are simply stunning. They are deeply cut and intensly silver with an almost moonlit glow to them. The leaves are also very textural and in the low morning and afternoon sun create some good shadow lines.
How to Grow - Cardoons, which are related to globe artichokes, need well drained soil and as much sun as possible. They do get quite large so if possible grow them out of strong winds otherwise you may need to give them some support to stop the flowering stems from falling over. They will give structural interest all year round. Once the purple thistle like flower heads have faded do not cut them off as they will stay more or less intact all through the winter.
Looks Good With - Almost anything actually! In early spring the new foliage looks great with strong coloured tulips such as Queen of Night or China Pink. Pick up on the silver leaves with Stachys byzantina. Echo the purple of the flowers with Agastache 'Black Adder'.
Technical Stuff - Cardoons are perennials and originate from the South West Medeterranean and Morocco. They will grow to about 1.5m high and spread about 1.2m.