Not Your Mama’s Onions

Allium, flowering onion, comes in a variety of sizes, heights and versions of purple, as well as bloom times.  Allium Giganteum is very tall and large and blooms slightly later than the ones shown below.  Allium Christophii, Star of Persia, is shorter with a larger flower and is a show-stopper in more compact gardens.

Allium English garden

Allium in my May garden

Allium have a stunning architectural look to them and can be a focal point of a calm, serene, modern-style garden or they can be an early spark of excitement in a classic English-style garden like the one in front of my house.

Allium in May

Allium are sun-lovers but tolerate a bit of shade.  Plant them where, once they are done their show, other plants will grow up in front of their fading foliage and let them blend in, for example, behind a boxwood hedge or a mid- to late-summer blooming perennial.  In my garden I have them behind daylilies, speedwell and Artemesia “Silver King” which are all still relatively short at this point in the season and have their moments of glory later than the Allium.  If you get the bloom times of the varieties co-ordinated, they pair stunningly with Nepeta, Catmintand are great for keeping squirrels somewhat at bay.

I don’t like to have too many things blooming with the allium; however I do love the look of gold foliage with their purple flowers.  Above you can see them with Goldflame Spirea and elsewhere in this garden but not in the photos Tradescantia “Blue and Gold”, Spiderwort, captures the morning sun like a jewel.

When designing gardens that I know small children will be living with, I try to incorporate allium for their ball-like, unique shape which I think is engaging for children.  What child can’t benefit from being drawn into nature a little more these days?  If you have enough, they also make beautiful cut flowers.

Giant Flowering OnionAllium English garden

Are you looking for garden ideas to complement a typical North American subdivision home?  Look for my next post in which I show the transformation of one such lot with lush and colourful foliage.

Allium Toronto

I design gardens in the Greater Toronto area.  Check out a few examples above under “Garden” and follow me on Twitter @patinaandcompan

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About patinaandcompany

I am a compulsive beautifier of all things habitable. Give me your ugly, non-functional and visually repellent, and I am in my element. Also, an avid and experienced gardener determined to share my horticultural experiences with others. See more at "About"
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17 Responses to Not Your Mama’s Onions

  1. Donna says:

    Wow, it didn’t take long for your garden to catch up with mine out here in Victoria! Your alliums look stunning; you can never have enough scattered around the yard. They look great everywhere.

    • Thanks! Yes, I said you could cut them if you have enough, but you really never do have enough that you would want to cut any! Everything really came out all at once here. Late tulips are still coming along, dwarf irises are finishing up at the same time as hellebores, lilacs are in bloom and peonies are on the verge! Bergenia and primula are still in full bloom, weirdly enough. You get to enjoy yours at a much more relaxed pace, for sure. What’s blooming in Victoria right now?

  2. I’m so happy to see your alliums (Is the plural “allia”?)

    They look lovely against the old brick/stone of your house (it looks old, may be not). My allium crop this year has been most disappointing. It’s gone from dozens to just a few, and I don’t know why.
    Honestly, it’s an old time Canadian spring, where one never knows what will come back and how.
    And speaking of that – I missed your blog posts. I’m so glad YOU came back!

  3. I just planted some Allium Millenium in the back garden today. I put it in the frontscape last year and fell in love with it. It’s shorter, as you know, with lovely, glossy green leaves. It’s beaut.

  4. Very pretty! I just put some pictures of allium up on my mominthegarden facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MomInTheGarden?ref=hl) as I simply love them! I love your front garden, it is beautiful! Dana

  5. Very nice. They are in full bloom here too. You being so close, much of our plants are in sync.

  6. Love these tall flowers, beautiful garden.
    Brenda

  7. Sartenada says:

    Gorgeous garden and flower photos.

  8. Gorgeous garden! Great job. I am thinking that you might find your job so relaxing.

  9. Sheryl says:

    The allium are lovely. I have some purple and white iris that bloom at the same time as my allium, and I like the purple-look of the garden. . . and then it moves on to other colors as the season progresses.

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