Friday, 9 January 2015

Cynara cardunculus flavescens

Cynara cardunculus flavescens
Though the familiar cardoon and globe artichoke plants are undoubtedly magnificent specimens, there is a lot more to the genus Cynara, with a wide variety of exciting and intriguing (and spiky) forms and textures.
Cynara cardunculus flavescens
As well as that, most are better suited to smaller spaces than their giant relatives. All they really need is full sun and good drainage. (See also C.humilis and C.baetica maroccana.)
Cynara cardunculus flavescens
This is a more compact wild relative (ancestor?) of the culinary cardoon, with deeply cut silver grey leaves heavily armed with contrasting ivory (flavescens = yellowish) needles. The large inflorescences are also fiercely spiky and mottled and the florets are of a deep violet blue. The whole plant grows to about 4ft across and about the same in height at flowering time.
Cynara cardunculus flavescens
A magnificent thing, but perhaps not to be planted too close to the path. And wear very thick gloves working near it!
4L pots ~ £10

Eryngium - unknown species but definitely one of the Latin Americans

Eryngium sp
I bought this under the name 'Blue Steel', which it most certainly is not. It most closely resembles some of the Mexican species that have become popular of late, such as E.venustum, but the leaves are much less deeply cut. It doesn't quite match any of the better-known South Americans either so I'm stumped.
Eryngium Mexican sp
That said it's a handsome bromeliad-like evergreen with small violet inflorescences. I shelter it from the worst of the winter weather here and grow it on a very well-drained soil in full sun, where it has developed into a clump about 2ft across and about the same in height (at flowering time).
2L pots ~ £8