Artichokes are a biennial. You may get a few artichokes the first year, but you will get many more the second year. Then, your plants may survive another year, or you may find yourself needing to replant. I use Imperial Star Seeds from Burpee.
Artichokes are technically a flower. In bloom, they make beautiful arrangements.
You can learn more about growing artichokes here.
Edible Bud Opened Flower
Artichokes growing in the garden
They get about 4-5 feet wide and tall, so plan accordingly when choosing a spot. They love to drink, and will get big and lush with lots of water.
Cut your artichokes when they are large, closed buds. The one on the right is starting to open a bit. It's still edible, but just barely. If you wait too much longer, it will flower.
Cut about an inch off the top of each artichoke. This will take off the thorns on top.
Pull off 2-3 layers of the bottom petals. These are hard and unedible.
Trim the thorny edges of the remaining outer petals.
Place in a large pot with a steamer basket. Fill with enough water to steam for about 45 minutes. Cover and steam for about 45 minutes.
Artichokes are done with a fork inserted near the stem goes in easily.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce: lemon juice, or melted butter, or mayonnaise. (I freeze lemon juice from my trees in a small ice cube tray for individual size portions.)
People often cut the stem flush, so that they can serve it upright. However, the best part of the artichokes is the heart, and the heart actually continues into the stem for about an inch (in the center of the stem), so I always leave the stem on.