She doesn’t look like much, but wait ’til this summer! This is Violet de Provence, a French heirloom artichoke with a purple flower. I decided to grow this variety because after visiting France this year I am obsessed with all things Provence. You would be too, that place is the closest thing to heaven on earth besides the good old Pacific Northwest. The wine, the olives, the lavender, the sunshine, it’s all amazing. I even drink Herbs de Provence tea to unwind and ground after a long day now. Plus I love the color purple and this variety is supposed to be tasty. I would expect nothing less, it’s French!
Artichokes require vernalization (a period of cold, can be outside in the winter or in your refrigerator depending on what you are planting) in order to bloom, so I got her going early with the rest of her friends inside our glamorous seed starting workshop in January. I’ve never grown artichoke from seed before but from what I read come March we are going to move her to the greenhouse where she will experience a month of cold. This is going to fool her into thinking a winter has passed so once it warms up in late spring/early summer she will go into flower, the tasty part of the plant we eat. It is a common way to grow plants that are considered biennials (meaning they have a two year life cycle) that you want to flower in the first year.
The flower is the grand finale of a plant’s life cycle. True perennials will live on after that, but for annuals, biennials, and short lived perennials the flower is the culmination of its life’s work harvesting light from the sun and nutrients from the soil. So appreciate them, for their beauty and for this reason too.
If all goes well I will be harvesting these lovelies from our garden in the early summer, chopping them down, and harvesting them again in later summer.