The great big thistle we know as a globe artichoke is a mammoth plant, worth growing because it looks so good and the bracts of the thistle, when taken young enough, are gorgeous.
They are hungry plants and need a lot of manure dug in, but they grow for fun and once established will do well almost anywhere. People make the mistake of taking the flowers when they are fully open and try to cook them. What happens is they remain tough and it is difficult to digest them. But if you want them as a tasty starter, with a butter sauce, take the flower as it is just beginning to ope, ever such a tiny amount, and then boil the individual bracts.
Make sure you let some flowers grow out because they do look rather stunning, and they make a great backdrop to a herbaceous border.
Give them a good mulch of well rotted manure in the spring and feed with fertilizer in the summer at the appropriate rate. Divide them up every three years and they will flower in their first year.
Image: By David Dennis from Scotts Valley, CA, USA (Artichokes in Memphis) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons