Tag Archives: ornamental onions

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.