Over the last couple of years I have been more than a little preoccupied with one species in the Allium family, namely garlic (Allium sativum). So much so that I have created a website all about this fascinating and beautiful vegetable. You can see it here. There are however beautiful ornamental Alliums that also deserve a place in our gardens. The one that is looking elegant in my garden at present is A. sphaerocephalon or drumstick allium. My garden is pretty low on elegance and high on profusion and confusion so it is a very welcome member.
Most ornamental alliums grow best in regions with hot dry summers and cold winters so my seaside garden is not necessarily the best spot for them. It doesn’t get quite cold enough in winter, and I tend to forget where I planted them and water them in late summer when they need to stay dry. I am however determined to persevere and have been heartened by my success with the drumstick allium this year.
Drumstick alliums usually start to flower near Christmas and always before New Year. Their leaves are grey-green, tall slender and sparse. Flower stems are up to a meter tall and are initially topped by bright green golf balls. Over a few days these gradually change to a magenta purple with the colour creeping down the flowerhead. These beautiful plants take up very little space and look best if they are grown through perennial plants. My plan is to combine them with the soft grey foliage and pale yellow flowers of Santolina neopolitanum ‘Edward Bowles’. Drumstick allium will gradually form thick clumps. Lambley Nursery has this and a range of other Alliums for sale from their latest catalogue. If you are interested in growing these have a look at their winter/spring bulb catalogue here and see what you think