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