Today also had mild weather although the extreme cold is set to return this weekend. Our Holiday Light Show (HLS) retrieval team was out in full force today and lead by Big John and Larry H. We also had Dick H., Urban, Peg and Vicki out there helping the fellas out. We also saw Hal, Janice and many others today. I bounced between orders which included a vast selection of caladium (Caladium sp.) varieties that will be part of our demonstration garden this year.
While we are only about four months away from seeing our spring blooming, ornamental onions (Allium sp.) showing color, the focus of this blog is on the summer blooming selections that offer similar color and that excellent "sphere" (umbel) of interest! The photo above was taken at Northwind Perennial Farm (www.northwindperennialfarm.com/) near Lake Geneva, WI. These drifts of Allium 'Summer Beauty' really accent this summer composition with these floating spheres of pink. Even as the blooms fade, the architecture of the blooms extends well in to the winter. I wont make an attempt to describe the breeding involved with many of these in terms of species crosses and selections but you'll see they all have significant form, texture and of course, beauty! While all of these varieties have subtle differences in parentage, height and flower color, most are summer bloomers with flowers forming in late June and coloring up nicely in July. Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa' at the bottom is an exception in that it blooms in early October and shows color well past frost! Interest may extend in to August but again, the dried flower "spheres" continue to add interest even as they turn brown. I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure about the possible problem of reseeding with these varieties. We are seeing more reseeding (undesirable) issues with some of the spring blooming Allium selections but I'm not sure about these summer bloomers. Ample mulching should help dissuade seedlings although additional research on specific selections is warranted. These ornamental onions all prefer full sun and are adaptable to a wide range of soils and are also drought tolerant. They will attract many pollinators as well.
Allium 'Summer Beauty' (above and below)
Allium 'Pink Pepper'
Allium 'Windy City' (Photo from Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)
Allium 'August Asteroids' (Photo from Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)
Allium 'Blue Eddy'
chives (Allium schoenoprasum) - May blooming
Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa' (blooms VERY late - October) - above and below in winter