December 8, 2014

A Year for Planting Allium Bulbs

This has been the year for planting large globe alliums in my garden with sixty-one new bulbs planted this fall, thanks in large measure to my husband's help.  Globe alliums are useful for filling the gap between the last of the tulips in May and June-flowering perennials, so I planted a few from Costco last fall in the East garden.  Above is 'Globemaster,' which is one of the most expensive but most sturdy of the large alliums.

You have to look closely to see all the alliums in this photo, but next spring there will be more of them since they return and multiply over the years.  The tallest ones are 'Gladiator,' some of which reached nearly five feet.  This area gets about half a day of sun, so things tend to stretch taller than they would in full sun.

Here is another view of the East garden in late May.  You can see that tall 'Gladiator' is in full bloom, while shorter 'Globemaster' is just starting to open.  There are also some 'Purple Sensation' alliums blooming, which are less expensive but have smaller heads than the others.

Here is a shot of two 'Purple Sensation' alliums.  This type is supposed to multiply quickly to form large clumps, and the seeds are viable as well, so this type is a good choice for a gardener with a limited budget.  Chartreuse lady's mantle (Alchimella mollis) blooms in the background.  I especially love mauve with chartreuse, and there is a lot of each color in this part of the yard.

Above is Allium christophii, which is the last globe allium to bloom in June.  It is quite a bit shorter than the others, and the inflorescence is very large and silvery-mauve in color.  This one is only halfway open.  Like most bulbs, alliums prefer full sun and well drained soil.  Most are hardy in zones 5-7.

Most of the newly planted alliums were placed in this northwest corner of the backyard.  We also planted several hundred perennial tulips ('Don Quichotte', 'Negrita' and 'Renown') across the front of this mound.  Ten purple-blooming 'Ambassador' bulbs were planted among 'Caradonna' salvia at the back of this photo.  I'm hoping they bloom together, as they'd make a great show, but I'll have to wait and see.  The salvia might be too late.  We also planted sixteen 'Globemaster' bulbs in groups across the top of the mounded bed, and twenty 'Purple Caila' along the path running behind the mound.  'Purple Caila' is somewhat rare, and I am excited to see its blue-violet coloring.  In the northeast corner of the backyard, I planted ten 'Early Emperor' alliums, which are supposed to bloom a couple of weeks earlier than the others.  Five 'White Empress' alliums were planted in the white garden.

The odd thing about alliums is that their leaves show up early and then start dying back by the time the flowers bloom.  In the photo above from April, much of the green in the flower beds comes from rosettes of allium leaves.  It's really nice to have more green early in the season, but alliums look best when they are planted among clusters of perennials so the perennial leaves form a base for the allium blooms after their own leaves have withered away. 

Here is one final shot with alliums in the background.  I am excited to take more photos next May and June and share how the alliums are doing in my garden.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, a five-foot allium? That's impressive! Alliums are so pretty, and I love what a big variety there are. I never used to plant them when I lived in NC with my clay, as they would just rot. In my new garden, however, I've started planting them, and they are such a great early Summer flower.


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