I have grown all variety of allium: Gladiator, Schubertii, Globemaster, Christophii, Purple Sensation....
(find all of them at COLORBLENDS here)....
...but somehow I have only just this season grown Ambassador (here)...
a perfect purple orb of absolute joy....and now my new favorite. I plan on ordering twice as many next year.
In the COLORBLENDS catalog it is described thusly:
"Ambassador produces 6 inch balls of tightly packed, rich purple flowers. Terrific either planted in groups or strung like lanterns through a perennial border. One of the last of the large alliums to flower. Blooms with roses. "
A humble description if you ask me.....It is absolutely marvelous. I told L'il Sis the topic of my post for today, and she agreed as to their amiability...and told me a friend of hers thinks it the 'Dr. Suess' of the garden, a comment I have heard many times before. Me, I think of it more as a Johnny Depp garden character...maybe it's those round glasses....., but I digress.
In shape, in color intensity, in bloom time,in pollinator attraction, in drama, in multi-season interest...and what I especially appreciate...
...it's striking conviviality with almost anything you plant with it...
roses, larkspur, poppies, yarrow...it is simply a garden must-have.
Grow it with and through golden privet or spirea....or the dramatically dark background
of lorapetalum...its impression can change from jaunty to moody quite suddenly. Everything in the garden is about context, isn't it? I love this chameleon quality about it. A wonderful bulb to experiment with and be enchanted by...a wonderful tonic to my spirits after the tulips have faded.
But in addition to placement and context, there are a few other tips on growing allium I'd like to share.....that I finally put into practice this time round.....that not only improved their beauty, size and vigor, but that will hopefully ensure better prospects of a return next spring. Here goes:
1. Plant them a little earlier than later. After the hundreds of tulips are planted, I can be tardy in getting the huge allium bulbs in the ground.....sometimes waiting until early to mid-December to get them in them tucked in. I think they resent this....playing second fiddle to the tulips, so I have resolved to get them in the ground earlier and with even more care than the tulips. I now
2. Dig really large holes at least 8" deep, and add a huge shovel of gravel mixed with the soil as well as a bit of bulb food at planting time. Bulbs we want to perennialize demand excellent drainage and I have all too often been lazy and negligent in this regard. Extra planting care at the front end produces far greater results at bloom time.
3. Plant them amidst foliage and other flowers that will hide their sometimes ugly feet and legs.
It is a sad state of affairs that just as their magnificent heads are in their full glory, their foliage begins to look rather tattered and brown....in my opinion, marring the overall picture a bit. Foliage-profuse neighbors help mitigate this problem.They are especially beautiful with drift or ground cover roses, butterfly bushes, and of course, my beloved boxwood.
4. Give them their place in the sun. Their size, color and intensity depends on it. Why neutralize their beauty by planting them where they will be less than their best? I speak from experience in this regard.
One other thing: I have not had much success growing them in pots, and now no longer try. I find them too tall, dramatic, and heavy-headed to be confined to the indignities of a container. Do let me know if you have found a way to do this successfully.