Thursday, September 07, 2006

Great big thistles

I had some free cardoon seeds a couple of years ago. They were relatively easy to grow, and I now have three cardoon plants in the front garden. Well, I say three, sort of more one and three quarters now, as gusts of wind have taken their toll.

The cardoon is a majestic member of the thistle family. One of the specimens out the front must be around 8 feet tall, with around 20 flower heads on it. The flowers are adored by the local invertebrate wildlife. There are bumble bees, honey bees, four or five species of butterfly and also hover flies on the thistle heads.

This end of the season, they are starting to look a little worse for wear, but will make a strong architectural 'statement' through the winter, and their foliage and dead flower heads may act as shelter for resident insects.

I think they are a little overwhelming in our small front garden though - the plant which got blown over in June and has grown back from the base is a far more manageable (although less dramatic) 4 feet. So perhaps if the cardoons are to stay next year, I'll perform a bit of a 'Chelsea chop' on them, to keep them a more manageable size but keep them flowering and providing a little late summer colour.

Details on the 'Chelsea chop' can be found near the bottom of the page on the following link.

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