Native of the Mediterranean.
Artichokes arrived to Britain from the Netherlands in 1530. (RHS, The Garden, June 2015, p.26)
Artichoke need full sun in water retentive but well draining soil.
Allow 2-3 feet between plants. Water in well. Also water regularly in dry weather.
Garden centres advise to keep crops weed free, and to mulch with well-rotted manure or similar in spring when the soil is warm and moist. But to be honest, these plants are so huge, I find that they simply shade out any weeds.
Some types of artichoke (such as the one above) are maintained by suckers which develop off the base of a mother plant. New plants can be propagated from rooted suckers, taken from established plants from March-April. They should be healthy, 20-30cm (8-12in) long with at least two shoots.
Artichoke are winter-hardy in the south but need mulch or straw to protect from the cold in northern UK.
Harvest flower heads when still closed.
In late May 2019 my brother visited London, and we had a magnificent spring feast from the back patch, including steamed artichoke and a lovage risotto.
Cooking: boil or steam heads until tender, drain, remove the leaf scales one by one, dip them in melted butter and then suck out the juicy flesh from each leaf scale. Finish off with the succulent ‘heart.’