Alliums of Lurie Garden – and a Giveaway!

Did you know that 2016 has been declared the Year of the Allium by the National Garden Bureau?  I didn’t either, until I was contacted by someone working with the online retailer Longfield Gardens (that’s Longfield, not Longwood).

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Pollinators love Alliums! A bee on Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ at Lurie Garden.

Thinking of Alliums makes me think of Lurie Garden, my favorite public garden in the Chicago area. The plantings at Lurie were designed by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

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Allium atropurpureum

In his book Designing with Plants, Oudolf appreciates Alliums for their shape: buttons and globes made up of “concentrated clusters of flowers tightly packed”. Alliums can be “points of concentrated color” as seen above against the large leaves of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

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Oudolf also says that Alliums stand out against masses of fine stems.

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I like how these Allium atropurpureum make distinct points against the masses of color created by swathes of Salvia and Monarda bradburiana.

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Allium with Blue Star (Amsonia tabernaemontana).

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Alliums can also be effective planted in masses. They contrast nicely with daisy-type flowers like these Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

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Alliums with Calamint (Calamintha nepeta). In Designing with Plants, Oudolf singles out Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ for its “spectacular spherical shape, which stand for some time as seedheads after the flowers have finished.”

‘Mount Everest’ is a white Allium very similar to ‘Purple Sensation’.

Alliums like ‘Purple Sensation’ are useful also for keeping the garden colorful during the transition from late spring to early summer.

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Masses of Alliums can have impact even from a distance.

Does this make you wish for some Alliums of your very own? Well, you’re in luck.

The nice folks at Longfield Gardens have provided a $50 gift certificate for the purchase of Allium bulbs. (The giveaway is only open to persons in the United States excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.)

To win the Allium gift certificate, just write a comment on this post. Do you have a favorite Allium? How do you use Alliums in your garden? Is your garden without Alliums, and if so, why on earth is that the case? The winner will be picked at random.

Oh, and did I mention that rabbits and other Spawn of Satan do not eat Alliums?

118 Comments on “Alliums of Lurie Garden – and a Giveaway!”

  1. Oh man! Would love some alliums. Don’t have any in our yard, but only because we built on a big, bare lot last year. We’re planting mostly natives in big swatches of color and I think alliums would look lovely with River Oats 🙂

  2. I decided to plant large allium bulbs for the first time last fall, and am impatiently waiting to see how they appear in my small cottage garden! I chose the giant types: Globe Master and Gladiator (I believe)… although Mt Everest looks tempting now!

    I had never considered planting small alliums, but your images are inspiring new ideas. If they play well with catmint, so much the better! 🙂

  3. I’m crazy about A. christophii but it doesn’t last long (four years, tops). The drumsticks come back dependably and even increase. I just added Gladiator but will have to move them into taller grasses to disguise the foliage, which starts to brown before the blossoms appear. I’m hoping they will discourage the gophers with their strong odor.

  4. Just the idea of the “Spawn” would leave them alone makes them worth while to me. ha… I have a few alliums. I forget the variety. They are tall and purple. They have been such a surprise to me because I had tried them several times before these took hold. I tried different varieties and luckily this one made it. I love the picture of the purpureum. It is a different color. I didn’t know this was allium year. Has a nice ring to it.

  5. Piet Oudolf is one of my favorite garden designers. I love how he creates these magical landscapes with large swaths of perennials. I also love alliums, though I had no luck the one time I planted them. Should I win, I will certainly try again!

  6. Spawn of satan indeed!
    I love alliums in a garden and use them wherever I can. My last garden was a joy thanks to Purple Sensation. My new garden which contained not even one plant has a number beginning to push through. I have Purple Sensation of course as well as sphaerocephalon and my favourite Nectaroscordum siculum.

  7. I use ‘Purple Sensation’ most often — inexpensive, so I can use lots! In a previous garden, I lined a path with Alchemilla and tucked loads of ‘Purple Sensation’ in between crowns. The frothy chartreuse and deep purple globes were a match made in heaven. Now I have to repeat the combo in my new garden!

  8. Alliums are pretty much my favorite bulbs…especially for those long-lasting seedheads…it’s rare to have a bulb provide 9+ months of interest. My fave for pure form is A. cristophii, but ‘Gladiator’ is the best for it’s seedheads…with A. nigrum a close second.

  9. My absolute favorite aliums are the twinkling star and the Persian blue, I have 5 varieties spread out through my garden beds, love that they keep critters away from my flowers as I live in a rural area and they are just absolutely beautiful no matter what u pair them with

  10. Pingback: A Beginner's Guide To Alliums | Angie The Freckled Rose

  11. Hello Alain, my favourite Allium is “Christophii” for it’s steely lilac star-shaped flowers. I’m planning to plant many this Autumn for a great display next year (as we used to have in the previous garden). I have heard they gradually fade after a few years, but they produce so much seed that I wonder if they can sustain themselves from self-seeding?

  12. My favourite Allium is A. sphaerocephalon, the drumstick Allium. I grew these as a kid back in Ireland, where they would flower right at the top of summer (Later than most Alliums). What I loved about them most was that each drumstick would always be heaving over with the weight of a fat bumble bee, who would be so engrossed in their nectar that you could stroke his fuzzy back, and he wouldn’t even notice! You can’t stroke bumble bees when they’re buried in a snapdragon of foxglove, and it mustn’t be on a flower about which they are ambivalent; they do sting!

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