My neighbor had just returned from several weeks away when he took me on a tour of his vegetable patch in late July. Left untended, the long green bed had turned wild and weedy. But one showstopper rose above the overgrown fray: The artichokes had gone into full bloom, crowned with showy, peony-size flowers of wiry thistle-purple, the heart bursting forth.
Vegetable flowers are usually the result of a garden literally going to seed, a process called bolting, in which the plant focuses all its energy on the production of survival—seeds. Other times, as is the case with the adored squash blossom, the flower comes first. (In those instances, remember not to pluck the garden bare of the blooms, or you’ll miss the fruits of the mature plant.) But for other garden veggies and herbs, the flowers offer a second chance for life in the kitchen—yet another example of how a bountifully a garden gives.