Latin name: Cynara cardunculus
Location: Wash House Gardens
What it looks like: A large, prehistoric looking plant with sturdy thick stems and large spiky grey-green foliage. The flower heads look like giant thistles or globe artichokes.
History: The Cardoon was a popular vegetable in Victorian times so fits in well in the Wash House Gardens. In the present day it can be found growing in the wild throughout the Mediterranean.
How to eat it: The Cardoon is a close relation to the Globe Artichoke and can also be eaten. Unlike the Globe Artichokes it is the stalk of the Cardoons you eat, rather than the flower head. The Cardoon stalks can be blanched and cooked in a similar way to celery. The cooked stalks have a similar taste to Globe Artichokes.
More information: The Cardoon is a great plant for wildlife. As you can see the bees love the Cardoon flowers and once they go to seed the birds use the seed heads to line their nests with. Because the foliage from the Cardoon is so big it also provides perfect ground cover for helpful (and not so helpful!) garden bugs.