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Many of us are familiar with the spring-blooming alliums - the big purple balls atop of tall bare stems. With names like 'Gladiator', 'Globe Master', 'Mount Everest' and Allium giganteum, you can expect them to make a big impression in the garden. Planted as bulbs in the fall or potted perennials in the spring, they send up their leaves in early spring, followed by huge balls of purple or white that shoot up and open like fireworks. Even as they dry on the stem, the flowers add interest to the garden.
Lesser known alliums include two of my favorites: Allium 'Summer Beauty'(shown below) and Allium 'Lavender Lollipop' (shown above). They bloom mid to late summer and though smaller in stature, they add a whimsical touch lasting well into the fall.
'Lavender Lollipop' (Allium x 'Windy City') is a new introduction from Brent Horvath from Intrinsic Perennial Gardens located in our backyard in Hebron, IL. It's a deeper shade of purple, floriferous, and stands tall on 15-18" stems. Like other alliums, they need full sun, are drought tolerant and deer resistant.
Allium x 'Summer Beauty' is a good companion to several other perennials such as hardy geraniums (above).
The deep purple of Stachys officinalis or Salvia 'Cardonna' along with the blue spruce make a nice backdrop for these allium clumps.
Alliums planted in drifts with Calamintha nepeta 'White Cloud'.
Grasses like Seslaria autumnalis (Autumn moor grass) or Sporobolis heterolepis (Prairie dropseed), Echinacea (coneflowers), and Perovskia (Russian sage) create a natural prairie-like setting for summer alliums.
Though they look like their cousin, common chives, summer alliums are ornamental onions, not edible. They have a sterile seed so they stay well behaved in their clumps,
Stop by and pick up an allium or two and add some whimsy to your garden.
- Tracy Hankwitz,
BGC Store Manager