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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.


      Showing posts with label Alliums. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label Alliums. Show all posts

      Sunday, November 1, 2009

      ORNAMENTAL ONIONS

      By the fountain at Columbus Circle, New York City, a designer with a sense of humor plants decorative onions to reflect the globe sculpture across the street.

      Giant allium bulbs are ready to plant now for next spring and summer bloom. In fall catalogs, they're usually bunched dismissively with "other bulbs" after the ever popular tulips and daffodils, an afterthought. But they have the advantage of being showy, deer and rodent resistant because of that oniony aroma, useful for container planting, and unlike daffodils and tulips, the seed heads continue to look great in the garden and in a vase long after the flower has passed. Above, seed heads in July add structure and style to a few plants of santolina.

      Two or three large alliums
      look like lollipops
      sticking up from the
      soil. Don't be stingy,
      buy a dozen or more
      to clump in one area
      to look kinda natural.

      Alliums have one
      great disadvantage.
      With most of the
      ornamental onions
      the foliage starts to
      yellow or dies back
      completely by the
      time the flower
      emerges. So place
      your bulbs among
      other leafy plants to
      camouflage the die-
      back, as shown here
      in the herb garden
      of the NYBG.

      Although you wouldn't
      know it from my im-
      ages where the alliums
      seem to be all purple,
      they come in various
      shades of lilac, pink,
      white and even a true
      blue and a yellow.
      Be sure to check for
      hardiness in your area
      if you want them to last.

      To the right, on The
      High Line in late June
      a display of astilbe in
      the foreground, and
      behind, foxtail lily
      and drum stick allium
      (A. sphaerocephalon).
      Double click on this or
      any image to get a
      better view.

      Try ornamental onions
      in containers with other
      plants, and the seed
      heads will reward you
      with their stately
      presence. Full sun and
      excellent drainage are
      the two requirements.

      I've had great success
      forcing A. schubertii
      on a sunny windowsill
      in winter, and watching
      the buds emerge and
      unfold to look like giant
      firecrackers. As the
      foliage died back, I cut
      some stems from my
      boxwood shrub and
      poked them gently into
      the pot to provide a
      complete cover-up.


      Below are two arrangements with stuff I grew on my farm. The fresh arrangement includes drumstick and another small pink allium, globe thistle,
      and several cone flowers, stems cut very short and stuck in wet floral foam.
















      The dried arrangement
      is composed of stiff
      necked garlic, and the
      seed heads of Chinese
      chives and Allium
      christophii
      stuck in
      one of my favorite
      vases. When you get
      tired of the arrange-
      ment, cook with the
      garlic.

      To learn more about
      growing and using
      anything allium, crafts
      and original recipes,
      see my book,
      Onions & Other Alliums',
      by Ellen Spector Platt,
      Stackpole
      Books, 2003.

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