19 February 2012


The recent vague de froid — the cold wave — might have been good for a lot of the trees and plants in our garden, but the artichoke plants didn't enjoy it much. December and January had been so mild that they put up a lot of new growth and were looking beautiful.

A flattened artichoke plant

Then came the hard freeze, which lasted two weeks. After the snow melted on Monday and Tuesday, I found our three artichoke plants completely flattened, splayed out on the ground. The big outer leaves are still green, but the heart of the plant seems to be dead. I wonder why those leaves stayed so green.

A fire bug's last resting place

I also noticed a fully formed artichoke flower on one plant. Lying on its back inside the artichoke is a fire bug — un gendarme — that looks to be as dead as the plant. That firebug might not come back to life, but thousands of others will be gathering along the path over the next couple of months. We'll see if the artichokes come back.


  1. The outer leaves were older and less tender than the heart... also, because of the rosette shape of the plant, they were flattened in the first fall of snow and kept insulated... anything that was left exosed after that slight thaw we had was hit by the hard cold that followed... everything in our potager above 10cms looks like your poor 'choke! To make sure that these are alright, sow some fresh seed to make some replacements. "Sod's Law" should then take effect and cause the old plants to spring back in the Spring.

  2. How are the Aucubas looking? With that kind of freeze the leaves should be all black. But are the stems still green?

    I send a message to Mary Allen yesterday for her birthday.

  3. Doesn't the plants' survival depend on how deep the freeze went? I hope these plants make a comeback.

  4. I'm just jealous that you can grow artichokes at all! (No, I'm happy for you, just wish our climate allowed this...And maybe it will now that everything seems to be changing.)

  5. I tried to comment on Walt's blog but after three failures at word verification I've given up. The puff pastry looked delicious.

  6. Tim, good analysis and good suggestions. If the artichokes don't come back, tant pis.

    CHM, I went out and looked at the aucubas this morning. There are three of them, and they have green leaves. So I think they have survived. Mary Allen's computer is not working right now, by the way. I just talked to her on the phone. She hopes to have the computer up and running by this afternoon EST.

    Carolyn, I don't know how deep the freeze was, but those artichoke plants have been there for 4 or 5 years, so their roots but be deep. We'll see.

    Kristi, I'll tell Walt about the word verification problems.

  7. Fire bug? I've never heard of them.
    Sounds like they can take over a place?

    Mary in Oregon

  8. Mary, the firebugs are European, and they are harmless. They eat dead leaves and other rotting vegetation, making it into compost. There are thousands of them in our back yard. See for example this post.


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