Tag Archives: Allium

Birth of an Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

10 May

The thing I love most about this time of year is the process by which new flower buds slowly open up and reveal their hidden treasures. I particularly love watching my Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ as the buds break free from the papery bracts protecting them and explode into a profusion of perky florets. The allium ‘flower’ is actually a cluster of much smaller flowers (florets) atop a stem–this type of arrangement is called an inflorescence.

The papery bract begins to split open under the strain of the growing florets.

The florets start to take on color.

The emerging inflorescence, seen from above.

Individual florets begin to bloom.                Close-up of a floret.

The newly emerged inflorescence, seen from above.

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ in bloom.


Allium Update

20 May

A short while ago, I posted a photo from above of an Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ bud just before it was about to open. Here are side views of subsequent phases in the Allium lifecycle: opening, and fully open (ok, those might not actually be the technical terms).


Alliums look delicate, but pitted against squirrels, Alliums will usually win. Why? Because they are members of the onion/garlic family, and squirrels prefer slightly less aromatic bulbs for dinner. Hummingbirds and butterflies have more sophisticated palates, however, and love Alliums. It can’t get any better: a flower that deters pests but attracts welcome guests.

Adding to the Alliums’ charms is the fact that they 1) don’t take up much space and so can be tucked almost anywhere, 2) are long lasting, 3) are pretty hardy, and 4) are just pretty. In the language of flowers, the message Alliums convey is one of perfection and elegance. It’s hard to disagree with that.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

7 May

WordPress, which is the platform that hosts this blog, offers a Weekly Photo Challenge through the Daily Post. Most weeks I don’t have anything quite compatible to offer, but this week the challenge was “From Above.” And coincidentally, I had recently taken a photo from above, of one my Alliums (Purple Sensation) that was just beginning to open. So here is a bird’s-eye view.

A Lot to Learn About Allium

4 Aug

During our very brief visit to Vermont a couple of weekends ago, I was not only fortunate enough to see Beth’s asparagus forest, but I discovered that ignorance can lead to bliss.  In my case, I was admiring a clump of flowers at another friend’s house. Nan’s flowers had been battered by rain and were horizontal instead of vertical, and though they were a bit past their glory days, they still caught my eye. Maybe it was the charming way in which they were now peering over an old stone wall. Or perhaps it was because they were a color and shape I liked. Or maybe it was because unbeknownst to me, they were the same genus of plant I had in my own yard: Allium.


I like to think that had I looked more closely, I would have  known that. But when something appears so wholly out of context, it is sometimes hard to “see” it. Nan’s variety is called Drumstick Allium, and it was in bloom in July. The one I have in my garden is called Purple Sensation, and it blooms in early spring, like the few other alliums I know. The photo below shows the Purple Sensation on May 1.  In my defense, it is more open and fluffier than the Drumstick, and a different shade of purple, and upright….

What I discovered at Nan’s was that I had just spent two years thinking I could only have Allium in the spring, when in fact, it is possible for these ornamental onions to brighten any garden for almost three seasons of the year.

I am quite ready to admit that I am only an amateur gardener, which should by now be quite obvious to anyone reading this. But my ignorance led to such great delight at the discovery that I could have alliums in my garden for much longer than I thought, that I hope to never become jaded by the significant amount of gardening knowledge that awaits me.