‘Purple Sensation’ (Allium aflatunense) is the earliest of our ornamental Alliums to bloom. This year, they burst into flower just over the past week.
We have 2 drifts of ‘Purple Sensation’ in our garden. The one that’s been around longest is in the Back Garden along the west hedge. ‘Purple Sensation’, like most Alliums, is supposed to want full sun. However, it has prospered in this spot that gets part sun at best, so it must have more shade tolerance than is generally recognized.
I planted 10 bulbs here in 2009, and they have since multiplied to at least 50. So far I haven’t seen any need for dividing this growing host of Alliums.
Alliums are generally very attractive to pollinators and ‘Purple Sensation’ is no exception. (Plus, the rabbits leave it alone.) There’s a tiny pollinator on the flower above – can you see it? Though a pollinator friendly plant for North American gardens, ‘Purple Sensation’ has its origins in Central Asia.
Here the flowers are catching the light of the late afternoon sun.
After its flowers fade, the strap-like leaves of ‘Purple Sensation’ starts to die back. Though the stems stay mostly upright and the dried flower heads look good, companion plants are needed to prevent the bed from becoming dominated by decaying foliage. In this spot I have been experimenting with plants that will fill in after ‘Purple Sensation’ has had its turn in the spotlight.
These second act plants include Japanese Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ (Anemone x hybrida) and several shade-tolerant asters, such as White Woodland Aster (Eurybia divaritica) and Heart-leaf Aster (Symphiotrichum cordifolium).
We also underplant the ‘Purple Sensation’ in this bed with a number of shorter spring-flowering plants. These include False Forget-Me-Not (Brunnera macrophylla), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), and Lily-of-the-Valley (Convalaria majalis).
Our second clump of ‘Purple Sensation’ was planted just 3 years ago near the ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple. It started with 25 bulbs and hasn’t spread much as of yet, but it looks pretty happy. This clump is underplanted mainly with Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum).
In addition to spring-blooming Alliums like ‘Purple Sensation’, there are lots of wonderful summer-blooming Alliums (including 2 species I just planted for the first time). Those, however, will be covered in future posts.