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Few annuals are bolder or make more of a statement than cardoon. It's the essence of exotic. This stately plant can reach 5 feet tall and bears toothed, thistlelike silvery leaves. The blooms, which look like silvery-violet artichokes, take a backseat to the plant's impressive foliage display.
Start indoors from seed or start from seed directly in the ground after all danger of frost is passed. Keep amply watered but do not overwater. Though it's perennial in Zones 7-9, it's usually grown as an annual. Cardoon reseeds freely.