Alliums are great additions to any garden. Taking up little space their tall slim stems can be squeezed in between most plants and their umbelliferous flower heads make a real statement in the early summer border. If you’ve ever cut your alliums for a vase you’ll know from the smell that they are unmistakably a member of the onion family - let your leeks, onions, garlic, or shallots go to seed in the second year and you’ll see that familiar flower too.
At Genus HQ we have Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ in part of the woodland garden - an area not too shaded by the surrounding mature sycamore trees and amongst some young shrubs and Himalayan birch. We love the alliums but their enthusiasm for life has resulted in them shedding seed and producing hundreds of offspring. Every year we have to weed these out to prevent them from annexing the whole woodland.
Despite their takeover attempt Allium is a great genus - the RHS Plant Finder lists four pages of species available to purchase from UK nurseries. As well as the usual purple varieties like ours, White varieties like ‘Mont Blanc’ and ‘Mount Everest’ are popular as well as pinks in the form of ‘Pink Jewell’ or ‘Silver Spring’. Some have unusually shaped umbels - ‘Art’ and A. atropurpureum being real conversation starters. Some of the real crowd pleasers are the show-offs, the big heads! With exceptionally sized flowers almost the size of footballs, starburst effect A. schubertii and perfectly round ‘Universe’ will have your gardening guests thinking you have watered them with horticultural steroids.