Garlic chives blooming in fall.
Right now there isn't a whole lot blooming in my small herb garden, but the garlic chives are making up for any lack of blooms and are flowering handsomely.
Bees seem to love the little white stars. There always seems to be at least one on the flowers in the company of a few little black ants. The long tapered leaves of garlic chives are broader than regular chives and the blooms are much larger. Their taste is oniony with a hint of garlic.
This year I switched from common chives to 'Profusion' chives (which I got from Richters, a Canadian nursery and mail order company that specializes in herbs). The mauve flowers are sterile and do not set seed. In the past, I've had to cut my chives back hard after they flower to to rejuvenate the foliage and to prevent them from seeding everywhere. Profusion Chives seem to stay small and compact throughout the growing season. Simply remove the faded flowers and you're good to go.
The Toronto Botanical Gardens.
They weren't marked, but I think these are Allium 'Giganteum'.
As well as these edible members of the onion family, there are ornamental alliums as well. This June I was lucky enough to visit the Toronto Botanical Gardens when the alliums were in flower.
The Toronto Botanical Gardens
The Toronto Botanical Gardens
Allium christophii up close and personal.
The Toronto Botanical Gardens
I was particularly struck by the fact that the alliums had been grouped into small clusters. The effect was soft and cloud-like.
Private garden Mississauga, Ontario
Of course you don't need a large garden to group your allium bulbs. I thought they looked wonderful in this much smaller garden that I visited in last May (visit this garden here).
Myself, I've always had a tendency to dot them around the garden with other flowering bulbs just as you see here:
Private garden, Toronto Ontario
Old unknown variety
I've primarily shown the tall round balls, that one usually associates with ornamental onions, but there are many colors, shapes and sizes available. For instance there are shorter, bushier alliums as well (see above).
Nodding Wild Onion, Allium cernuum
The colors range from white, pink, yellow, mauve, purple and burgundy. As well as the rounded flowers typically associated with the tall ornamentals, there are more oval shaped blooms and floral fireworks of the kind you see here.
Joe's Garden, Brampton, Ontario
When flowers are finished, Alliums turn into magic wands. The decorative seed heads add a nice architectural element to any flower bed.
You do have to keep a watchful eye on the magic hidden in those wands. Alliums can be prolific self-seeders!
Alliums beginning to open in a Toronto, Ontario garden
If you haven't done so already, fall is the time of year to order and plant allium bulbs. With all the inspiration I found this summer, I'd like to take better advantage of the wide range of colors, shapes and sizes these members of the onion family offer. So I called in the advice of an expert.
Pam Dangelmaier is co-owner and manager of Botanus, a mail-order bulb and plant company located in Langley, British Columbia. It's hard to choose from the nice variety of allium bulbs Botanus has on offer in this fall's catalogue. I had to begin my questions by asking Pam if she has a personal favourite.
"I love Allium sphaerocephalon," Pam says, "Not only is the deep burgundy color enticing, it is also a literal 'bee-magnet'. As a bee keeper, I am always looking for easy to grow plants that the bees love and this one ticks all the boxes."
Allium 'Millenium' blooms in mid to late summer. Look for this allium at your favourite nursery.
Alliums that flower in late spring pick up where tulips leave off and bridge the gap nicely between spring bulbs and early summer perennials, but there are some alliums that bloom in the summer as well.
I asked Pam for some advice as to how best to use alliums throughout the full gardening season. Here's her suggestion:
"Allium 'Ivory Queen' is a nice dwarf variety that blooms in early summer. Follow these up with a gorgeous display of Allium bulgaricum and Allium giganteum. Allium 'Millenium' produces large chive-like blooms in mid to late summer that make great additions to cut flower bouquets. All are easy to grow and maintain and look fantastic in any garden (or container)."
Allium 'Ivory Queen' (left) has creamy white globes on stems that are about 4" tall making it a great option for underplanting taller varieties. Bloom time: Mid-spring. Full sun/partshade. Planting depth: 10 cm (4 inches), Height: 10 cm (4 inches), Spacing: 10 cm (4 inches). Other attributes: Bee-friendly, fragrant, makes a good cut flower, drought tolerant and deer-resistant. USDA zones: 5-9.
Allium 'Giganteum' (right) has mauve-purple flowers is one of the tallest alliums available. It requires full sun and well-drained soil. Bloom time: Late spring. Planting depth: 20 cm (8 inches), Height: 100 cm (40 inches), Spacing: 30 cm (12 inches). Other attributes: Bee-friendly, fragrant, makes a good cut flower, drought tolerant and deer-resistant. USDA zones: 6-9.
Allium bulgaricum has fragrant pink bell-shaped flowers that hang in downward curving umbell. Bloom time: Late spring. Planting depth: 10 cm (4 inches), Height: 90 cm (36 inches), Spacing: 10 cm (4 inches). Other attributes: Bee-friendly, good cut flower, drought tolerant and deer-resistant. USDA zones:6-9.
Allium 'Millenium' has compact, upright foliage and mauve flowers. Bloom time: Mid to late summer. Full sun. Look for this allium next spring at your favourite nursery. Height: 40-50 cm (16-20 inches), Spacing: 25 cm (10 inches). Other attributes: Attractive to bees and butterflies, drought tolerant and deer-resistant. USDA zones: 5-9.
Alliums planted in among some hostas.
As well as being great self-seeders, tall ornamental Alliums do have one other drawback: their foliage can be somewhat untidy looking especially as they begin to go dormant. I asked Pam if she had any suggestions for hiding this less than appealing attribute:
"It's true, the foliage is usually not very attractive and actually begins to yellow and fade before the flower heads bloom. A great 'trick' is to plant them in amongst low growing perennials and ground covers such as hostas, grasses and hardy geraniums."
A white allium in my garden.
Once you've got your alliums selected, there is only one more issue: where to plant them and with what?
The where is easy: alliums like full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.
Allium 'Purple Sensation' and Euphorbia polychroma in my garden.
The other partners are Euphorbia 'First Blush' (variegated in the middle foreground) with Euphorbia 'Bonfire' which is to the middle left.
One plant combination I have in my own garden is to mix Allium 'Purple Sensation' with a trio of Euphorbias. The three Euphorbias are nestled together at a corner I pass frequently.
Purple alliums mixed with pink Columbine is another pretty combination.
Eryngium (Sea Holly)
I asked Pam if she had any suggestions for plant combinations as well:
"One combination I love is Allium sphaerocephalon with Eryngium (Sea Holly). The burgundy and the blue look awesome together! I also think taller growing alliums such as 'Purple Sensation' and 'Mount Everest' pair nicely with hostas and perennial grasses."
Many thanks to Pam for taking a moment to answer all my questions at a very busy time of year. I hope you have found some inspiration to start your fall bulb planting!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.
I benefit in no way from any purchase you might make from Botanus.
Bookmark this post with a PIN.