Incorporating Artichokes in the Border
It’s not at all unusual for a gardener to create a border with a specific color combination as the primary design element. The use of color can define spaces, camouflage utilitarian elements and create a sense of beauty…and that’s just the beginning of the list.
I suspect you are already sold on color being of primary importance when it comes to annuals and perennials. But, have you considered choosing edibles according to color? There are so many gorgeous varieties of edibles, some with vibrant color, others with a more muted palette. And some of which provide structure, texture and color in ways that are completely different from traditional landscape plants.
A great example of this is the artichoke. Looking like something straight out of a Land of the Lost episode, their long, grey-green leaves shoot up and out from the plant’s center…think fern on steroids. In warmer climates (where they can survive as perennials), they can grow to be 4-6 feet wide. If you are in Zones 7b or colder, you’ll be growing them as annuals…resulting in less growth per season. Their fruit can come in red, purple or green and appears on tall stalks, interspersed throughout the leaves. When the fruit is left to mature and bloom (versus eating it), the resulting flower looks much like a large thistle. Artichokes are, in fact, members of the thistle family.
Because the artichoke has such a strong presence in the garden, I would use it as a focal point. The gorgeous grey-green leaves and purple and red jewel-toned fruits and flowers will serve as a platform for plant choices. Here are a few plants I’d love to see used in combination with the artichoke:
‘Maestro’ Sedum: A bold plant can hold its own next to the architecture of the artichoke. The deep purple leaves, succulent foliage and profusion of purpley-pink flowers fit well with this color scheme. Another great option would be Garnet Brocade™ Sedum.
Daisy May® Shasta Daisy: http://www.provenwinners.com/plants/leucanthemum/daisy-may-shasta-daisy-... The white flowers of Daisy May® will brighten up the border and the serrated pattern of the leaves echo those of the artichoke. Another option would be to use the pale yellow ‘Banana Cream’ Shasta Daisy to add brightness and bit of warmth.
Graceful Grasses® Vertigo® Pennisetum: This gorgeous grass is a beautiful, deep purple. Its 3-4 foot height make it a great middle of the border plant and its fountain of leaves reflects a similar form to the artichoke. Another good choice is Graceful Grasses® Red Riding Hood®. This small fountain grass fits in tighter spaces and has purple leaves with vibrant burgundy-colored seed heads.
These are just a few ideas of plants you can use to complement an artichoke in the garden. If an artichoke plant is too large for your space, consider varieties of kale like Lacinato or Peacock Kale to add structure and a similar color palette. Have fun exploring the beautiful world of edibles!
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