News: Gardening With Alliums


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Gardening with Alliums

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday I was enjoying a very hot and sunny British Grand Prix at Silverstone, looking out to the garden this morning, apart from the colour of the plantings, it looks like a typically overcast winters day. Not to worry, we are promised sunny intervals tomorrow.

Today I am belatedly going to cut back the alliums, they have now given way to the agapanthus. The agapanthus look truly superb this year, one plant showing 23 flower heads. I always feel that alliums are not as widely grown as they should be, they are one of the most useful plants for naturalising in a shrubbery or woodland. Although they prefer full sun they also do well in partial shade, their liking (like most bulbs) is for good drainage, but they will adapt to any soil type once established. 

There are alliums for all parts of the garden, taller varieties for the border and the smaller species for the rock garden, front of borders, terraces and containers. Taller types circled with complimentary smaller varieties can be particularly effective. They are a favourite with flower arrangers as the blooms are long lasting and can then be dried for use in winter arrangements. Their appeal is emphasised by the number offered in the green as impulse buys during spring shopping trips. They will perform far better when planted as bulbs in the autumn where you have a far wider choice and considerably better value for money (the tall purple sensation only £9.50 for 10). 

Reasons not to grow alliums can easily be overcome. The foliage can have an unpleasant onion smell when broken, just be careful not to trample on them. Many of the taller species carry their globe like flowers on a leafless stem with the foliage dying back as the flowers emerge. Try planting these in mixed borders and amongst shrubs that only cast light shade in May and June. Make sure the area around your alliums is kept clear and well weeded to make sure they grow strong straight stems.
Enjoy your garden,

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