Globe artichokes are tasty beauties. They stand majestically in any garden, offering a steady supply of gourmet pleasures from now till September.

I fear the 19th Century horticulturist, Patrick Neill, would consider me ‘impertinent’ as only ‘prosperous men, not lesser ones’ like me should grow globe artichokes.

Mine have been focal points in the garden for many years, growing to well over a metre, with broad silvery green leaves spreading a full metre in all directions.

Originally from the Eastern Mediterranean, this ancient plant finally reached Scotland in the 17th Century, spreading as far north as Orkney and Shetland. When Neill visited Orkney 200 years ago, he found Kirkwall had no harbour and passengers had to either wade ashore or be carried by the seamen. But once on dry land they could have spied artichokes.

Further north on Unst, Neill noted these members of the thistle family grew little larger than thistles with small tasty heads. But my artichokes are thankfully much larger, topping the tall stems each plant produces throughout the summer months.

We’ve reverently eaten our first heads, and you do have to savour the pleasure. The base of each leaf contains a promise of the flavour of the central heart, so it’s worth taking the time to reach it.

I do know of two men who refused to be bothered with all this pfaff and solemnly sat empty-plated while everyone else at the table tucked in.

Like all our plants, globe artichokes only grow well when conditions are right.

They prefer light and gritty free-draining soils and need moderate fertility and moisture. If too dry, the heads are stringy and unpalatable. But if the crowns are too wet because the ground is heavy or clay, they rot over the winter.

You can treat globe artichokes as annuals, but they never achieve the eye-catching appeal of well-established specimens and they produce only one stem, not the many, multi-branched ones I’ve come to expect.

Globe artichokes usually die back in winter and if conditions are poor they simply won’t survive their first one. But the longer they live, the larger and stronger they usually become.

I’ve noticed over the last few years that established plants often don’t completely die back in my garden, so perhaps they’re lucky enough to benefit from warmer climate change weather. Conditions less unlike their original Eastern Mediterranean habitat.

Plant of the week

Paeonia ‘Honey Gold’ flowers in mid season, bearing exquisite creamy white flowers with a pale yellow centre from which grow additional creamy petals. The flowers are also sweetly scented. The plants are robust and though growing to about 90cm rarely need staking.

Like all herbaceous peonies ‘Honey Gold’ prefers fertile, moisture retentive soil in sun and must not be planted with the crown deeper than 5cm or it will not flower.