We are all familiar with the artichokes that we prepare at home or eat in a restaurant. But, how many of us have seen the beautiful artichoke blooms that emerge when the artichokes are past their prime eating-wise.
We have some artichoke plants in our garden, and they produced dozens of artichokes - many more than we could eat or give away. So, now the blooms have taken over - and they are beautiful! The bees love them. The plants themselves are huge, much larger than I expected them to be (4-5 ft tall).
Wikipedia has a pretty good article on Artichokes. Although the orgin of the plant is unknown, this is currently where they are grown:
Today, Globe Artichoke cultivation is concentrated in the countries bordering the Mediterranean basin. The main producers are Italy, Spain, and France. In the United States, California provides nearly 100% of the U.S. crop, and approximately 80 percent of that is grown in Monterey County; there, Castroville proclaims itself to be "The Artichoke Center of the World", and holds an annual festival at which artichoke ice cream is served. The cultivar 'Green Globe' is virtually the only kind grown commercially in the U.S.
I have never been to the Artichoke Festival in Castroville, CA, but it sounds like fun. It was held in May, so we have missed it for this year, but there is always 2010!