gardening at home with sarah | favourite alliums for may to july colour

Watch as Sarah shares her best allium varieties currently growing at Perch Hill for spectacular colour from May to July.

You may remember that we were here about a month ago when it was tulip time. They’re going over, but the allium bonanza is now coming, and that is the wonderful thing about alliums is that they just give you this seamless succession as the last tulip drops its petals the first allium comes out and that’s really why I love them, and the two earliest that you get are here, ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Purple Rain’ and then this one comes later in June which is cristophii but I’m going to show you lots more of these in the Oast Garden.

Alliums were one of the first things I planted in here about twenty years ago, and the variety I planted was this one which is called ‘Purple Sensation’ which is really good value and it self-seeds and that’s what’s happened in here, so I planted fifty bulbs and there are now at least five hundred and we’ve actually thinned them too, but what happens when it self-seeds is it goes slightly more mauve like that which is it reverts to the species type, the wild type that you’ll find in the Mediterranean called ‘hollandicum’, so those you can see are very very similar, but that’s a seedling of the hybrid. So those really do flower in May, as does this, which is called ‘Purple Rain’ and that’s a newer variety and I love it because it is just exactly like a sparkler at a firework party, sort of really airy and bold at the same time I adore that one.

And then in June you can see (we’re still in May but) this is coming and this is called cristophii and this will flower all the way through June and this is another one that I think is incredibly good value, much much cheaper than things like allium giganteum and completely perennial, all these have been coming up in the garden for twenty years, and I love cristophii also at Christmas because this is it, da naa! You just spray it silver and throw it at the Christmas tree and it lodges on the sort of complex structure of the fir tree with the complex structure of the allium, so that’s another real cracker. And then similar to that which flowers in June into July is this one which is called schubertii, and this gets even bigger than cristophii, so its sort of outer wands come right out to here when its fully expanded, and this one, surprisingly has quite a nice honey scent, not an onion scent at all, and also those are truly spectacular at Christmas, we either just have them dried like that or we spray them silver, or we spray them gold, and again, can you think of anything nicer at the top of your Christmas tree, right, right at the apex, so they have a double value, well triple, they’re beautiful in the garden, they’re fantastic in the vase and they’re brilliant dried.

And then there’s just one final one that I wanted to show you which is a shade lover in fact, it used to be called nectaroscordum but now it’s been re-classified I think into the allium family, and I rather love it because it’s almost like a little mini hand-tied bunch with the droplets of flowers hanging around the stem, and that will grow in shade, so that’s another beauty and it will again self-seed. You just couldn’t have May here without alliums.

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