October 10, 2009

Allium and Iris: A Favorite Combination

It is great to walk through the garden on April mornings and see the happy pairing of allium and Dutch irises. Now is the time to plant those bulbs for next spring.

This is my first year with allium 'Purple Sensation' so I don't have photos of mass plantings to show you. I do have more bulbs to add to the garden later this month to increase the display. I'd like to add some of the taller allium, but I haven't gotten an order together so far.

Dutch irises were first planted here in fall 2005 and they have not disappointed me. This is my first fall without buying more to plant. If I can locate my existing clumps without too much digging (this is where using blogging and photos as a journal can help), I will divide my oldest clumps. I have several other colors that include blue, yellow, bronze and lilac.

Although the foliage of the iris and allium wasn't a distraction, I planted hardy geranium 'Rozanne' around the feet so that there would be no bare spot in the garden in that location. The geranium begins to bloom in early summer, just after the irises and allium have finished blooming. I guess I should include it as part of the combination, but there are other so many other options (nepeta, coreopsis, etc.) for planting at the feet of the irises and allium.

This perennial geranium sprawls a bit and that's okay as it is a nice ground cover that bloomed all summer long and is still in bloom. The loose sprawling habit also makes it easy for bulbs to emerge through the geranium. The only problem with the geranium is that I have to keep rabbit repellent on it for a few weeks in the spring. It is rated for zones 5-8, although it will need more water and afternoon shade in the hotter zones during the summer. I interspersed taller annuals to provide a bit of relief for my geraniums on the west side. Knock Out® Roses shade the geranium on the south side.

Dutch irises and allium can be planted at the same time in the fall. They like the same conditions, making them easy companions to use together.

The irises are rated for zones 5-8 and the allium for zones 4-8. They need good drainage, especially in the winter. I lost a few last winter by planting them in an area that was too wet, so don't do that! Both perennial bulbs are deer and rabbit resistant.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home Garden
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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