Maybe you’re tired of me talking about my Alliums every spring and summer. But I have something new to say about ‘Purple Sensation’ that you can’t say about every Allium.

Back Garden Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Namely, that this Allium variety, at least in my garden, really is an almost no-maintenance plant. I started this patch of ‘Purple Sensation’ in the back garden over 10 years ago. The patch has gotten bigger every year. However, it gives no sign of needing lifting and dividing. And did I mention that it is thriving in part shade?

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ with Clematis ‘Gurnsey Cream’.

This is the same patch looking the other direction. I did discover this May that Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’ is a nice companion for this Allium variety.

This is the whole Back Garden patch, or almost all.
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ in the Front Garden.

I planted a second patch of ‘Purple Sensation’ south of the ‘Donald Wyman’ crabapple. Though this is a dryer, sunnier spot, the performance here has been basically the same, though this second patch is usually a few days ahead of the first. Despite this year’s cold spring, both patches started blooming early this year. Thanks to the drought and a brief mid-May heat wave, they finished earlier than normal, especially in the newer patch. Ditto for the foliage dying back.

Allium ‘Mt. Everest’

In the Back Garden the variety ‘Mt. Everest’ is blooming. This is its second season and there is no sign of spreading, nor have the flower heads gotten smaller. Unfortunately there is one fewer than there should be, as I accidentally broke one of the stems. Clumsy.

‘Mt. Everest’ closeup

Glad I planted this one.

Allium karataviense

These days I ask myself why I ever got excited about Allium karataviense. The foliage is supposed to be something special, but is it? Though it may not be the Allium’s fault. It was subject to an emergency transplant into the Back Raised Bed that was done with little thought as to how it would fit in with its neighbors.

Allium ‘Globemaster’, seen from the street.

When I first planted Allium ‘Globemaster’ its 10″ flowerheads inspired awe. Though it has multiplied, these days it looks a little pathetic. I swear this is the year I will finally lift and divide these bulbs. By the middle of June. You have permission to castigate me if it doesn’t get done.

Well, that’s all I have on this year’s May-blooming Alliums. More Alliums to come as we go through summer. This is a flower that I’ve come to think of as essential to our garden. As of now, we have nine species or varieties, though admittedly some are more successful than others. And remember, Alliums are good for bees and rabbit-resistant.

60 Comments on “‘Purple Sensation’ really is sensational”

  1. These are quite incredible! These large blooms look like they are all doing so well, and yes – the leaves are also beautiful. Funny… I was just on another blog and someone identified a flower as a member of this species, but it had not fully opened yet.

  2. Oh, these are really beautiful. I have seen pictures of them but not for real and put them on a “think about” list that I keep. I think the perfect place for them is in a semi shady place along a short pathway from a garden gate where I have surprise lilies planted. They are tall enough to show up at a distance but not so tall as to worry about flopping over in a thunderstorm. These could go in back of the surprise lilies and I’d have tall shady flowers spring and again in fall. Maybe I should just put them on the “buy in fall” list right now.

    You know you’re an “enabler” here, or perhaps, “influencer” is more like it although I think they make money off the deal somehow.

  3. They all look great, Jason! I think mine in more shade are actually doing better this year, because of the early heat and the lack of rain in mid-spring. I watered the south-facing, sunny ones, but I think not enough. Hopefully, they’ll be back in better shape next year. The ones in shade look happy. Your swaths of ‘Purple Sensation’ are amazing!

  4. I think that alliums are such a cheerful flower. It reminds me of little balloons bobbing in the garden. I never tire of seeing/reading about them especially when you have such nice big swathes of them. I’ll be watching to see if you get some thinned and replanted. 😉

  5. I think that if the alliums go to all the trouble of putting on their show every spring, the least you can do is write about them! The ‘Purple Sensation’ is just that. Despite their regal bearing, the floof at the top seems to say they don’t take themselves too seriously. I think they are great personality flowers.

  6. Well, these are sort of the two primary varieties that I want to try, so it is interesting. I do not expect them to perform as reliable here as they do there, but I must try. If they do not last, at least I will know. They are available in nurseries, but I never see them in gardens anywhere. I want ‘Mount Everest’ because it is white. I want ‘Purple Sensation’, and will likely try it first, because it gets good reviews, and looks like what I expect allium to look like. If one or both perform well, I may try one with really huge flowers, like ‘Gladiator’ or ‘Globe Master’.

      • Yes, they are chilled prior to sale (I believe), like almost all other bulbs. Bulbs that require more chill than they get here are happy to bloom for their first season, but are less likely to bloom afterward. That is why so many are used like expensive annuals. Some of the alliums are supposed to be satisfied with minimal chill. I do not know what to think about them, since I have not tried any yet.

  7. Hi Jason .. I am totally smitten by Purple Sensation .. in fact so much so, that it is the only allium I have spread throughout my back garden now .. it is just so well behaved with stature even when it has lost it’s colour, the seed head is a wonderful explanation point against the other plants. I did have Schubertii for a couple of seasons and then it seemed to disappear .. I have no idea why .. their structure was amazing along with the scent .. but for now I am happy to have lots of Purple Sensation to enjoy. I have to say you made me pause with Mt. Everest .. I didn’t think I would like a white one , but yours looks very nice !

  8. Your Purple Sensation are stunning and I never realised that they could be grown in shade, must try that. I too have a Clematis Guernsey Cream in a shady vorder so must plant some alliums with it to keep it company!

  9. What a stunning patch, and very well named – it IS sensational. I dont see it grown much on the coast of Georgia, and I wonder why. It is probably good in Zone 9. The deer dont eat society garlic, so I may have to try another bulb from hat large fa,ly!

  10. I think your Alliums were the inspiration for me trying them and I am so pleased I did! I have some Purple Sensation and Mount Everest too. They look good in your partial shade. If you do divide them I would appreciate any tips as I have never tried it myself. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hello Jason, I don’t mind you talking about Alliums at all. I always looked over Purple Sensation and preferred Christophii, however, of all the bulbs I planted several years ago, we’re down to just a few flower heads. These are my favourite allium, their metallic-lical star-burst flower heads are so unusual, but if they keep disappearing, then I might have to learn to love Purple Sensation instead.

  12. How wonderful that your allium patch keeps getting bigger – I’m hoping that mine will as well but it is a (of course I also have ‘Purple Sensation’!). I have one lone white allium in the border which was in a mixed bulb packet. Sometimes you win and sometimes, as in this case, you don’t when it comes to mixes.

  13. How can someone get tired of alliums!! Your allium area is amazing! These are some of my favourite plants altogether, and I’ve always dreamed of having a “forest” of alliums like you have. However, I’ve never really managed. When I lived in Sweden, I never really found a good place to group them, and it was very windy. Where I live now, in Ireland, it’s…. very windy. Still, when a friend in Sweden talked about digging up some allium bulbs (because they spread like wildfire in her garden), I couldn’t help but ask her to send them here, so now I have quite a few of them in a good place, perhaps a bit sheltered – time will tell.

  14. It just occurred to me that the globe-shaped flowers I’ve seen in roadway and commercial plantings probably are alliums. I’ve only seen the purple, but they seem to do nicely in full sun. The Houston Garden Club is promoting Purple Sensation on their website, so it makes sense. I’ve only seen them as accents, though. Your massed planting is gorgeous.

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