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).
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.
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).
Oudolf also says that Alliums stand out against masses of fine stems.
I like how these Allium atropurpureum make distinct points against the masses of color created by swathes of Salvia and Monarda bradburiana.
Allium with Blue Star (Amsonia tabernaemontana).
Alliums can also be effective planted in masses. They contrast nicely with daisy-type flowers like these Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).
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.
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?
I didn’t know that. They are such striking flowers.
The are, aren’t they?
I love alliums almost as much as I love tulips. Gorgeous photos.
Who decides these things? Still I have no complaints about alliums, I love them, apart for the invasive ones. The ones in your photos are lovely and there are some great colour combinations there.
The National Garden Bureau is an association of plant retailers and growers, I think.
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 🙂
Yes, that sounds like a great combination!
Alliums are by far my favorite summer flowering bulb. I wouldn’t be without big ol’ Gladiator but I love the blue blooms of caeruleum. I’m also a huge fan of Schubertii, but they rarely make it two years in my zone 5 garden so I think of them as annuals.
Those are all good ones, I have Globemaster, which is something like Gladiator.
No rabbits! I’m cursed with them and nothing has deterred. Home made, commercial nothing. I’m looking for alliums now.
I have a few: allium cernuum, Gladiator, and Purple Sensation. Would love to try some others!
I have ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Globemaster’ which I think is like ‘Gladiator’.
Alliums are kryptonite to rabbits.
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! 🙂
We have ‘Globemaster ‘ in the front parkway. I love it, and it’s been spreading nicely.
I have a few: allium cernuum, Gladiator, and Purple Sensation. Would love to try some others!
I’d like to try Allium cernuum in my garden. Maybe next year.
Wonderful! There are so many, the yellow ones, the small ones, and, of course, chives!
You’re right, we shouldn’t forget chives!
Alliums are wonderful!
I love alliums and ordered some last fall. Looking forward to the display in a couple of months. The combinations in the Lurie Garden are inspiring.
I agree. There are others I don’t have good photos of, like Allium chrstophii.
Love Alliums in my garden!
There’s a lot to love.
My favorite is Persian Starflower.
Don’t know that one, sounds interesting.
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.
I think the dying foliage is a challenge with most of the tall Alliums.
beautiful pictures! am definitely going to be planting more alliums 🙂
Good for you!
Love those photos from Lurie Garden. Anxiously awaiting alliums to bloom. I planted a few last year after seeing so many great ones on blogs.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.
Alliums really are striking flowers. I was intrigued by them after seeing some Midsummer ones at the Chicago Botanic Gardens last summer. I planted some last fall, and I’m thinking they have not come up 😦
I hope they come back for you.
I have lots of different Alliums growing in my garden, but can’t really claim a favorite. Purple Sensation seeds around a lot which bugs me. I’d love to win more!
It seeds around for me too, but I don’t mind.
i love the Gladiator
Looks like a good one.
love the purple sensation
I don’t have any alliums in my garden but I love them!
Maybe you should try a few.
I’ve never grown alliums, mostly because clients simply didn’t ask fir them, but I’ve always liked them. I’ve never seen the ones in the second photo and I’ve never seen them planted in such large drifts. They’re pretty that way.
Yes, they are used in some creative ways at Lurie.
I love that they are rabbit proof. I will plant some this year. I love the colors they come in.
Give them a try, I bet you’ll like them.
I did not know it was the year of the allium, but I love it as much as I love allium….and you can never have enough so winning a gift certificate to purchase more is great! Love all the pictures of the alliums too!
True, Alliums are one of those flowers you can never have enough of.
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.
Our Allium spreads steadily. Maybe yours will also.
I have an ornamental purple allium (its name is lost in the mists of time) and a couple of ornamental ones – chives and garlic chives. I would love to have ore – they are so easy to care for and pest free. Thank you for the chance!
They are easy plants, as you say. Plain old chives is a really good plant.
I have never planted alliums, but you had me at rabbits do not eat them. I bet woodchucks would leave them be as well.
Don’t know much about woodchucks, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
I guess I finally got my timing right because I have a small order of Alliums to pick up at the end of the month but would love some more. 🙂
Of course, wouldn’t we all?
I planted some new alliums in the fall for bloom this spring, so I guess I unwittingly got the timing right, too. I really love the Allium/Amsonia combination.
It is great, isn’t it?
LOL, re: your rabbit comment. Yes, I’ve had Drumstick Alliums for years, but recently added several other types of summer-blooming Alliums. I realized I needed more of them after last year’s Fling!
Yep, all those Alliums in Toronto were inspiring, weren’t they?
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!
Next time could be the charm.
I love them all. Each year I try to add a new one to the garden. This year it was ‘Gladiator’, last year ‘Schubertii’.
A new Allium every year, I like that idea.
I would love to grow some alliums! I recently have 4 (!!) rabbits hanging out in my yard….
My condolences! They’re all over my garden also.
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.
I’m glad you got right down to fixing the new garden’s lack of Alliums.
Had to be done. Waiting now to see what comes up.
Beautiful use of Allium. I have some A. karataviense and a tall one whose name has been lost. I should use more of them.
So should we all!
These may just make me rethink my longstanding antipathy toward alliums, born of 3 gardens’ worth of constant yet futile warfare against that noxious weed, Allium canadense! 😉
You can’t blame an entire genus for one rotten onion!
LOL, that is true! Although I suspect the fact that the entire Allium genus has made me deathly ill (as a foodstuff) for the past 32 years might have something to do with my antipathy as well, LOL. Even the smell of onion or garlic causes my tummy do to flipflops (guilt by olfactory association?). 😉
Great photos, plus good tips from Oudolf. I would love to see the Lurie Garden again some day. Remember that great Oudolf border at the Toronto Botanical Garden?
Yes, I loved that.
I love the Persian Blue for their gorgeous color, the Globe Master for it’s size and the Red Drumstick for it’s cute shape.
Never seen the Persian Blue, sounds intriguing.
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!
Sounds like a great combination.
I love alliums. Mine are about to bloom. I am definitely going to need more.
Don’t we all need more?
Lovely Lurie Garden, I’d like to stroll there.
You would enjoy it.
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.
I agree with you about A. Christophii, though I don’t have any. I’ll have to check out A. nigrum.
Beautiful! I wonder how they would grow in my yard, which is part-sun at best.
‘Purple Sensation’ is tolerant of some shade in my garden.
I just love the layers of colour, especially in the second and third photo…very inspiring!
I love Alliums! I keep finding more to add each year. This year will be the first for my Purple Sensation alliums (planted last fall) which I am so looking forward to!
I’m sure you will enjoy them.
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
‘Twinkling Star’ – that sounds enchanting. Sounds Ike you are rich in Alliums.
I’ve never grown an allium! I would love to try! I try to plant everything, avocado seeds, pineapple tops and so far I’ve had success! My children make fun of me! Oh well, I love flowers and plants!
So do I! Carry on with your growing experiments, ignore your mocking children.
I do not have any alliums in my garden but I would love to say I did!
I can’t wait for them to bloom every year. Piet Oudolf is a fantastic designer and we are lucky enough to live close enough to one of his UK gardens, and can visit through the changing seasons. It is inspirationall
My Chicago office is a ten minute walk from Lurie, so I consider myself very lucky.
Allium atropurpureum are such a lovely shape and fantastic colour. I must get some!
Yes you must!
What a heavenly array of alliums! I just loved these pictures. Now you have me wishing for mine to pop up…way to go yet, but time to buy more!xxx
You can never have enough Alliums.
Oh please, oh please, let it be me
That wins the alliums that I seek
For with their wild colors and shapes
I’ll have a Seuss-like landscape escapade !
I’ll put your name in the bowl, beyond that I can’t make any promises.
I am just dying to plant some lovely alliums in my new garden bed I sweated to carve out of ancient sod early this spring. I hope I am the lucky winner!
“Carved out of ancient sod” – that sounds very dramatic!
I love ‘Summer Beauty’ but since you already shared that one I’ll go with ‘Ivory Queen’! It’s so unusual for an allium, very silvery and wide-leaved.
I’ve never seen that one, sounds intriguing.
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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?
My Globemaster and Purple Sensation are spreading, so I haven’t experienced them fading away. Sometimes I cut down the seed heats to prevent self-sowing.
Alliums are beautiful but I always end up weeding them out. They look amazing en masse at Lurie, especially with the salvias.
There are some weedy Alliums that will pop up in the garden. It can be hard to tell the good from the bad.
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!