April 27, 2009

Have No Sphere? Grow Alliums

I've admired alliums for years, but have deliberated on how to use them in the garden. There are different colors, heights and bloom sizes. One allium, appropriately named 'Globe Master' has blooms that are ten inches across!

A cottage gardener friend successfully inspired me with her plantings of alliums and irises. Last fall, I planted allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation' (zones 4-10) with iris x hollandica 'Rosario' (zones 4-9) in several groupings around my garden. This is the first bloom season and I must say that I've totally fallen for this combination of Dutch irises with alliums! Of course, my plantings need a few more years to mature and fill in the space that I've allotted, but I'm already convinced that I must have more alliums.

I have planted several groupings outside the fence since both the Dutch iris and alliums are deer resistant. I have sown annual seeds along the areas with the intention of hiding the fading foliage of these bulbs when the annuals bloom later.

'Purple Sensation' is a wonderful purple (see smaller photo of same allium that was taken in dim light versus the bright sunlight in the photo with the iris) with blooms that are four inches across.

Inside the cottage garden, I have planted the irises and alliums with my Knock Out® Roses. To hide the bulb foliage when it begins to fade, I had the idea that a mass planting of hardy geranium 'Rozanne' (perennial) would do the trick.

Well, the rabbits feasted on the geraniums over the winter, so I have only three tiny little plants left out of nine. The plants are tiny (they were large last year) because the rabbits ate them down to the ground. What I don't understand is why the rabbits haven't touched my geranium 'Brookside' that are planted along another path in the cottage garden. Of course, the rabbits know that 'Rozanne' is more expensive than 'Brookside' and they have exquisite taste when it comes to plants.

On our Sunday walk through Sarah P. Duke Gardens, there were even more alliums and combinations to inspire me. I'll be watching the performance of my 'Purple Sensation' and start putting together a wish list for planting additional alliums this fall.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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