Know your onions, especially the ornamental ones!
I always think that alliums suffer with their common name – ornamental onion. It just doesnt´ inspire desire, but it should! There are very few plants that can add such sparkle, elegance, and longevity of flowering in a garden yet occupy so little space. With over 700 species, they come in all forms – oval, spherical, globular and the latest with crazy dreadlock hairstyles! They are pure statuesque floral art and with a great palette of colours, variety of heights and bloom time, you’ve just got to get some into your life.
It was back in the late 1800’s that these curiosities of the plant world started to attract real attention. Russian botanists began collecting some of the spectacular alliums from Central Asia and introducing them to horticulturalists in the Imperial Botanical Garden of St. Petersburg. It was the start of a subdued passion throughout the world, largely unrecognised by the masses. It has probably been the majestic displays of alliums at the Chelsea Flower Show; above all, that has introduced them to a wider public. And, once tried, I promise you, you’ll be hooked!
They are tough and drought tolerant plants, preferring to be grown on the dry side and loving sunshine – sounds good, doesnt´ it? Alliums are natives of dry, sandy soils with good drainage; many are from Eastern Europe, Turkey and the lands that were once known as Persia. They have no serious disease or insect problems and they will even deter deer, voles, moles, chipmunks, rodents and Viveros Florena – Probably the best little garden centre in Andalucía!
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Summer Hours, June, July & September: 9 – 2, closed Sundays & Mondays and August. Winter Hours, October – May: 10 – 4, closed Sundays and Mondays. Viveros Florena, Crtra. Algarrobo/Cómpeta, km 2, Cómpeta, 29754, Málaga Tel: 689928201 Web: www.viverosflorena.com Email: email@example.com And see us on Facebook – Lorraine Cavanagh’s Garden Centre www.viverosflorena.com rabbits! I’m not so sure about In warm climates like ours, it goats and wild boar! However, always pays to plant a little they will attract bees and butdeeper and apply a high potash terflies. Extremely hardy, many feed to help develop good roots can survive as low as -30C. and bulbs. If planting in conThey will multiply naturally, so tainers try and plant to the they can just be left to get on same depth, though spacings with it. can be less to create a full-look
Their rounded flowers form ing pot. Use a good quality great contrasts amongst more compost and consider forming mixed plantings, spiked lasagne layers using different flowers, huge leaves etc. and varieties in layers, starting they are excellent as cut with the largest bulbs at the flowers or the dried seedpods bottom. make great Christmas decoraAllium caeruleum is a tions. lovely azure blue, one of the
Even crammed gardens can few true blues. Its flowers are take some alliums as they dont´ much smaller, like golf balls, need much space. The smaller but abundantly produced and flowerers look lovely planted totally lovely. ‘en masse’ forming lovely drifts; try 10cm or 15cm spacing. Larger varieties can be planted in small groups of three or five, giving them more space to develop their stunning heads. Try a spacing of 30cm apart for most, and up to 45cm apart for the true giants. A good rule of thumb when planting is that bulbs should be planted at least twice the depth of the bulb and three times the width of the bulb for spacing.
Allium christophii, known as the Star of Persia for its huge starry metallic amethyst flowers sometimes as much as 30cm across. It is particularly suited to dry conditions.
Allium Eros, named after the Greek god of love, this is a delightful allium bearing pink/ lilac domed flower heads to 10cm across. Clumping and spreading in the most charming manner.
Allium Gladiator is one of the tallest with big lavender mop-heads up to 15cm across atop 1,5m stems – it’s striking and sweet smelling too.
Allium vineale ‘Hair’ Newish, bizarre and crazy, this is the bad-hair-day allium! Very different from the usual pompom shapes, the centre is purple surrounded by erratic green hair-like tendrils.
We have all of these alliums in stock and lots of other great bulbs for spring flowering. Next week I’ll tell you about more of them. Meanwhile, check out our webpage for details of bulbs in stock. Half page colour photos, cultivation, propagation and pruning advice. Three indexes. Latin, English and Spanish. Cross reference section