A handsome, thistle-like plant, which is more at home in the herbaceous border than on a small vegetable plot. Growing to about 4 ft high, its arching silvery leaves provide an attractive foil for the bright floral display.

However, the globe artichoke must never be allowed to bloom - the ball-like heads are removed for cooking just before the fleshy scales open. In many ways a fussy plant, it requires good soil, regular watering and feeding plus frost protection in winter, but the reward is a gourmet's delight. Plant rooted suckers each year so that mature specimens can be disposed of after a few years, as they will not last forever.

To cook, cut off the stalk, remove outer layer of scales and then wash thoroughly to remove insects. Then, boil in salted water for 30-40 minutes. When ready, remove each scale in turn and dip the base in melted butter, vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce.

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