Sunday, March 9, 2014

Artichoke monster

Just about exactly a year ago I planted a small globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) outside the front yard fence—not because I wanted to harvest artichokes for food but because I think it’s a highly ornamental plant.

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November 3, 2013

Throughout 2013 it grew slowly but steadily and wasn’t fazed by the cold snap in December. It handled the dry winter with aplomb and never looked droopy or ratty.

And then came the rain. While the four storms we’ve had in recent weeks have done little to ameliorate the drought, they delivered enough water to turn my meek artichoke into the Hulk himself. I bet if I had set up a chair on the sidewalk, I could have watched it grow.

This is what it looked like yesterday morning. It definitely makes an impact…

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March 8, 2014

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…but it has swallowed up the plants growing next to it.

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Yes, there is something growing under the leaves

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An Agave parryi var. huachucensis! It needs all the sun it can get to thrive.

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It’s also encroaching on a red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

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A closer look revealed that it’s actually two plants!

Time for a trim! My trusty Hori-Hori knife sliced through the leaf stems like butter. Within a matter of minutes order was restored.

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The bottom leaves were the largest, and removing them make a big difference

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Now you can clearly see that the clump consists of two separate plants

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The Agave parryi var. huachucensis can breathe easily again…

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…as can the Texas ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Compacta’) on the right

I had thought of removing the artichoke altogether but I do like it where it is. I suspect that it will slow down as we transition into summer (not that far away for us) but I’ll be vigilant and keep the clump neatly trimmed.

11 comments:

  1. It looked great already but unexpectedly looks better now being trimmed. Plus the other plants will be thanking you :)

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  2. Stake it now, Gerhard, With something massive like a 2" tree stake, or it will fall over once the buds get large. It will also die down to the ground (or will look mangy enough that you will cut it to the ground) in July. It will re-emerge once the weather cools in October, and will be twice as large next year.

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    1. Twice as large? Now you're scaring me. I will need to remove one of the two plants then. Maybe both. Are there dwarf artichokes?

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    2. No, But you can minimize their size by not giving them a lot of water. Of course, then you won't get as many artichokes...

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  3. Remarkable what those slimy snails can do to a huge artichoke plant overnight ! They looked pretty pristine this winter , and finally the rain --snails were jubilant.

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    1. Your comment is very timely. I've been expecting an onslaught of snails after the recent rains but I haven't seen any snail damage yet. Really weird now that I think about it. Could they have died during the dry spell in December and January? Not likely...

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  4. They are beautiful plants in cool weather--but Agaves come first.

    Haven't seen a snail in two years. Drought has its virtues, apparently.

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  5. If I lived by you I would take one of those chokes off your hands! I am just about to buy one for my edible section of the yard. :)

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  6. This reminds me that I need to start some cardoon seeds... :)

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  7. It's a gorgeous plant -- I hope you don't decide to remove it. Wow -- what a kick it would be to see it at twice the size! I'm in South Texas and have pretty much given up gardening. Ongoing drought conditions makes the required work and water bill way too high, and kills all the fun.

    Ah, well -- happy gardening, all! :-)

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