Know your onions, es­pe­cially the or­na­men­tal ones!

Costa Levante News - - GARDENING AND NATURE - Mediter­ranean Gar­den­ing by Lor­raine Ca­vanagh

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!

Keep check­ing our web page for lat­est news and ex­cit­ing new stock ar­riv­ing at the gar­den cen­tre. Join our mail­ing list to keep in con­stant touch. Shop on-line with us for un­usual plants, scented roses, bulbs, coloured iris, or­ganic prod­ucts and my books.

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: flo­re­na­s­pain@hot­mail.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

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