So when we put in the new driveway it was widened a bit, which made the narrow strip of lawn between the driveway and the Crabapple Bed even narrower and more pointless-looking. So last year I said to myself, why not take up that last bit of lawn and plant bulbs? Alliums, specifically, which were much on my mind at the time. So I did.
Specifically, I planted 25 Star of Persia (A. christophii) and 25 A. caesium. These both come into flower in early June (A. caesium a few days after A. christophii), after A. ‘Purple Sensation’ has gone over. Star of Persia is about 2′ tall with stout stems, A. caesium is 12-18″ with much narrower stems.
This is the first time I have planted A. caesium. I love the blue flowers, though they are not as large as the catalog indicated. The centers are a pale blue, with darker blue veining. Unfortunately, I think I need to move them to the west-facing side of the bed. Right now they are shaded by the foliage of other plants and I suspect they do not get enough sun. Also, not sure this plant should spread out in a narrow strip along the driveway, which to my eye works better with Star of Persia.
We’ve had a handful of Star of Persia for a few years, ever since we saw it in a bunch of gardens at the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland OR. Now they have a more substantial presence.
Judy was especially enchanted by the silvery-purple flowerheads, which look good even when they go to seed.
The flowerheads in our garden range from about 6″ to 10″ across.
Of course, it’s not just the size and color of the flowerhead that is striking. It’s also the loose starburst quality, as of a silvery galaxy in formation.
We planted these Star of Persia closer together than we were supposed to, but I think they still look good.
One thing I haven’t worked out with these bulbs is an effective underplanting. I transplanted some Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) that were struggling in another area. Not sure if that will work or not. Also planted some Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) seeds with mixed results. I will have to keep thinking about this. Any suggestions?
On a totally different front, we have Chickadees building a nest in the new birdhouse hanging by the back porch window. We recently spent several hours watching the little black-capped birds flitting in and out of their new home with beaks full of moss and other nesting material. Judy took this picture through the window with her phone.
I would point out this is a genuine Chicago birdhouse, as its a two flat.
There are several more Allium species in our garden that bloom later in the summer. I guess I went through a brief Allium phase, but I’m over it now. There are so many other genera to obsess over.
Love the birdhouse!
I love Star of Persia. Even after it loses its color, it takes on a nice tan and can remain a visual feature for some time (until my wife tells me “It’s dead.” Stay safe.
Very true, the flower has a second life as seed head.
That is a fabulous birdhouse. Your Chickadees are smart to use it. Always better to be on the top floor. 🙂
Yes, who wants the garden/basemennt apartment?
As someone who grew up in a two-flat, I got a good chuckle from the birdhouse (ours felt like a birdhouse from time to time). I love the photo of the A. caesium — to me, they look like electric lights. Beauties!
Yes, there is something electric about them.
Star of Persia is grand! Also, what a nice-looking birdhouse. No wonder the chickadees scoped it out and claimed it. I have heard this is one of their super powers.
So glad to learn they have super powers – they are needed!
A birding friend told me that chickadees are so observant and clever that other birds are always watching them to see what they do and where they go. Then, the other birds follow the chickadees’ lead.
Love the alliums, they look really good alongside your driveway.
So glad you think so.
Your allium collection is nice. I love those Persian stare bursts. I planted some but they were in too much shade. Not good I can say.
I often have trouble figuring out what to plant at the base of tall allium so I am no help there.
Lucky you having chickadees building a nest where you can watch them.
Chickadees are fun to watch.
I love the Alliums, but that birdhouse is wonderful. It’s a perfect style and color. Great choice for garden art and bird housing. 🙂
Thanks, I really like it too, and apparently o do the chickadees.
I envy your chickadees. I seem to only attract House Sparrows, which I do not allow. Don’t let them evict the chickadees’ Like your alliums.
We’ve had house sparrows laying siege to the chickadees in the birdhouses but the metal predator ring keeps them out of the nests.
The silvery-grey colour of the Star of Persia is quite striking, I’ve not seen a plant and colour quite like it. The chickadees are very lucky to have this wonderful birdhouse, Rolls Royce standard!
Yes I agree that Star of Persia is striking and unusual.
I’m joining the others who love your birdhouse. Do you have tenants on the first floor? I enjoy watching birds and would love to have some birdhouses but only have feeders up at the moment. Also, love your flowers. I seldom comment but I read every post and look forward to the next one.
I don’t think there are tenants on the first floor but maybe we will see some later.
I love your alliums – of which I have none – but may soon! Thank you. I also love the chickadee house. We have a family of baby birds that use a post on our porch. It was a woodpecker that prepared the spot first. So considerate.
Woodpeckers can be helpful that way.
Star of Persia is on my list – it’s striking. And definitely won’t scoff at the beautiful blue A. caesium – so lovely too! I could definitely do with either of those in the borders. My alliums are planted more towards the middle of the bed and I’m hoping that the various plants around them will cover up those yellowing leaves but haven’t had them long enough to know what combinations seem to work out the best.
I have some planted in the middle surrounded by ground covery plants and that is a good way to go.
I’m envious of your Chickadee nestlings. We have so many sparrows in our area, they commandeer every birdhouse around here. Do you have sparrows? Is the opening too small for them?
If by sparrows you mean house sparrows, we have them too and I really despise them. But yes, the opening keeps them out and I attach a metal ring that keeps them from chipping around the entrance to get to the nest.
The Star of Persia is a beautiful thing! I’ve never grown alliums but that one might make me want to try,
Give it a try!
Your alliums look gorgeous. Love the huge heads! Cute bird house, here’s to chicks!xxx
Sounds like there are little chicks in there right now.
Alliums are great in the garden as they fill the gap between early/mid-spring bulbs and herbaceous perennials. A. christophii is wonderful!
Your Star of Persia reminds me of our Amsonia species; it really is beautiful. That birdhouse is a knockout, though. I’ve never seen one like it. Did you buy it specifically for chickadees, or did it just happen to suit them? I’ve never had birdhouses, but I know different species prefer differently-sized holes.
The hole is designed specifically for chickadees and house wrens.
Allium Christophii – now that’s what I’m talking about. Yours look amazing and certainly much more impressive than the few we have left here. It’s such a striking allium I think they’re very under-used.
They seemed to be more frequently used on the West Coast of the USA than here.
I am never able to get the alyssum to go from seed –I’ve pretty much given up on it. But I wonder if ajuga would work as an underplanting. I have one that has lavender flowers and the foliage is a bit dark reddish almost purple. I looked at a couple of pictures on line and I might have the “chocolate chip” or ajuga reptans. I like it because it does spread but not aggressively and it is lovely even when not flowering. I have it in a semi-sun / semi-shade spot and it does fine.
Ajuga sounds like a good idea, thanks for the tip.
Cool birdhouse, and even better that it is providing a nesting site for the birds. Fun to watch them through their nesting season.
Alliums look great. I like the dainty A. caesiums best.
They really are fun to watch.
I love that allium ! I also think ajuga might just work as an underplanting .. I use it as well.
We had chickadees nest in one of our birdhouses last year .. I was thrilled because they are such sweet birds .. I love their call. We almost had a wren family this year but for some reason they didn’t quite move in permanently .. they made a nest but skipped town ? LOL
Yes, we have had house wrens nesting in our bird houses as well. Both they and the chickadees are fun birds.
Ha! A Chicago two-flat, indeed. Nice birdhouse. I think all your alliums look amazing!
Star of Persia certainly is pretty in your garden. I was not sure what to think of that see-through floral density. I think that in our landscapes, it might look like a strange agapanthus. I still intend to limit my first selection to the two cultivars that I mentioned earlier (Purple Sensation and perhaps Mount Evereste). After that, I do not know if I will try anything else.
Maybe you’ll pass your Allium obsession on with these lovely photographs. I know I’ll have more next year. I only sowed Alyssum once, years ago, and it stays self-sowing in the cracks between our house and path. When it gets too untidy I pull all of it out but by that time it has self sown. I think it would be lovely to undersow for Alliums. Amelia
Yes, it does self-sow though it doesn’t really start blooming here until June which makes me think I should go back to buying flats of small plants already flowering, which we can plant in early May.
I think you probably get a better choice of plants than I do. I have been disappointed in my efforts at growing from seed this year. I am considering forking out more and buying a few plants on the internet to give me more variety.
You certainly have a way with alliums. I need to try them again. Gorgeous photo of the Chickadees.
Can’t wait to see the chicks when they fledge.
I really like that Star of Persia allium. It does look rather galactic with its silvery star-like structure. I am also wondering about what to use for underplanting for some new alliums. As yours are next to the driveway, maybe some herbs that smell good when walking past? For example, wild oregano. The smaller butterflies and lots of pollinating insects adore it, and it spreads well.
Maybe A. ‘Battlestar Galactica’ would be a better name. I should consider Oregano as an underplanting, though it is so aggressive. Tried thyme but it was mostly overwhelmed.
True. I nearly suggested wild strawberries but they spread like mad too.