Alliums of Lurie Garden – and a Giveaway!

Did you know that 2016 has been declared the Year of the Allium by the National Garden Bureau?  I didn’t either, until I was contacted by someone working with the online retailer Longfield Gardens (that’s Longfield, not Longwood).

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Pollinators love Alliums! A bee on Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ at Lurie Garden.

Thinking of Alliums makes me think of Lurie Garden, my favorite public garden in the Chicago area. The plantings at Lurie were designed by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

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Allium atropurpureum

In his book Designing with Plants, Oudolf appreciates Alliums for their shape: buttons and globes made up of “concentrated clusters of flowers tightly packed”. Alliums can be “points of concentrated color” as seen above against the large leaves of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

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Oudolf also says that Alliums stand out against masses of fine stems.

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I like how these Allium atropurpureum make distinct points against the masses of color created by swathes of Salvia and Monarda bradburiana.

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Allium with Blue Star (Amsonia tabernaemontana).

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Alliums can also be effective planted in masses. They contrast nicely with daisy-type flowers like these Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

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Alliums with Calamint (Calamintha nepeta). In Designing with Plants, Oudolf singles out Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ for its “spectacular spherical shape, which stand for some time as seedheads after the flowers have finished.”

‘Mount Everest’ is a white Allium very similar to ‘Purple Sensation’.

Alliums like ‘Purple Sensation’ are useful also for keeping the garden colorful during the transition from late spring to early summer.

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Masses of Alliums can have impact even from a distance.

Does this make you wish for some Alliums of your very own? Well, you’re in luck.

The nice folks at Longfield Gardens have provided a $50 gift certificate for the purchase of Allium bulbs. (The giveaway is only open to persons in the United States excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.)

To win the Allium gift certificate, just write a comment on this post. Do you have a favorite Allium? How do you use Alliums in your garden? Is your garden without Alliums, and if so, why on earth is that the case? The winner will be picked at random.

Oh, and did I mention that rabbits and other Spawn of Satan do not eat Alliums?

118 Comments on “Alliums of Lurie Garden – and a Giveaway!

  1. Who decides these things? Still I have no complaints about alliums, I love them, apart for the invasive ones. The ones in your photos are lovely and there are some great colour combinations there.

  2. Oh man! Would love some alliums. Don’t have any in our yard, but only because we built on a big, bare lot last year. We’re planting mostly natives in big swatches of color and I think alliums would look lovely with River Oats 🙂

  3. Alliums are by far my favorite summer flowering bulb. I wouldn’t be without big ol’ Gladiator but I love the blue blooms of caeruleum. I’m also a huge fan of Schubertii, but they rarely make it two years in my zone 5 garden so I think of them as annuals.

  4. No rabbits! I’m cursed with them and nothing has deterred. Home made, commercial nothing. I’m looking for alliums now.

  5. I decided to plant large allium bulbs for the first time last fall, and am impatiently waiting to see how they appear in my small cottage garden! I chose the giant types: Globe Master and Gladiator (I believe)… although Mt Everest looks tempting now!

    I had never considered planting small alliums, but your images are inspiring new ideas. If they play well with catmint, so much the better! 🙂

  6. I have a few: allium cernuum, Gladiator, and Purple Sensation. Would love to try some others!

  7. I love alliums and ordered some last fall. Looking forward to the display in a couple of months. The combinations in the Lurie Garden are inspiring.

  8. I’m crazy about A. christophii but it doesn’t last long (four years, tops). The drumsticks come back dependably and even increase. I just added Gladiator but will have to move them into taller grasses to disguise the foliage, which starts to brown before the blossoms appear. I’m hoping they will discourage the gophers with their strong odor.

  9. beautiful pictures! am definitely going to be planting more alliums 🙂

  10. Love those photos from Lurie Garden. Anxiously awaiting alliums to bloom. I planted a few last year after seeing so many great ones on blogs.

  11. Alliums really are striking flowers. I was intrigued by them after seeing some Midsummer ones at the Chicago Botanic Gardens last summer. I planted some last fall, and I’m thinking they have not come up 😦

  12. I have lots of different Alliums growing in my garden, but can’t really claim a favorite. Purple Sensation seeds around a lot which bugs me. I’d love to win more!

  13. I don’t have any alliums in my garden but I love them!

  14. I’ve never grown alliums, mostly because clients simply didn’t ask fir them, but I’ve always liked them. I’ve never seen the ones in the second photo and I’ve never seen them planted in such large drifts. They’re pretty that way.

  15. I love that they are rabbit proof. I will plant some this year. I love the colors they come in.

  16. I did not know it was the year of the allium, but I love it as much as I love allium….and you can never have enough so winning a gift certificate to purchase more is great! Love all the pictures of the alliums too!

  17. Just the idea of the “Spawn” would leave them alone makes them worth while to me. ha… I have a few alliums. I forget the variety. They are tall and purple. They have been such a surprise to me because I had tried them several times before these took hold. I tried different varieties and luckily this one made it. I love the picture of the purpureum. It is a different color. I didn’t know this was allium year. Has a nice ring to it.

  18. I have an ornamental purple allium (its name is lost in the mists of time) and a couple of ornamental ones – chives and garlic chives. I would love to have ore – they are so easy to care for and pest free. Thank you for the chance!

  19. I planted some new alliums in the fall for bloom this spring, so I guess I unwittingly got the timing right, too. I really love the Allium/Amsonia combination.

  20. LOL, re: your rabbit comment. Yes, I’ve had Drumstick Alliums for years, but recently added several other types of summer-blooming Alliums. I realized I needed more of them after last year’s Fling!

  21. Piet Oudolf is one of my favorite garden designers. I love how he creates these magical landscapes with large swaths of perennials. I also love alliums, though I had no luck the one time I planted them. Should I win, I will certainly try again!

  22. I love them all. Each year I try to add a new one to the garden. This year it was ‘Gladiator’, last year ‘Schubertii’.

  23. I would love to grow some alliums! I recently have 4 (!!) rabbits hanging out in my yard….

  24. Spawn of satan indeed!
    I love alliums in a garden and use them wherever I can. My last garden was a joy thanks to Purple Sensation. My new garden which contained not even one plant has a number beginning to push through. I have Purple Sensation of course as well as sphaerocephalon and my favourite Nectaroscordum siculum.

  25. Beautiful use of Allium. I have some A. karataviense and a tall one whose name has been lost. I should use more of them.

  26. These may just make me rethink my longstanding antipathy toward alliums, born of 3 gardens’ worth of constant yet futile warfare against that noxious weed, Allium canadense! 😉

      • LOL, that is true! Although I suspect the fact that the entire Allium genus has made me deathly ill (as a foodstuff) for the past 32 years might have something to do with my antipathy as well, LOL. Even the smell of onion or garlic causes my tummy do to flipflops (guilt by olfactory association?). 😉

  27. Great photos, plus good tips from Oudolf. I would love to see the Lurie Garden again some day. Remember that great Oudolf border at the Toronto Botanical Garden?

  28. I love the Persian Blue for their gorgeous color, the Globe Master for it’s size and the Red Drumstick for it’s cute shape.

  29. I use ‘Purple Sensation’ most often — inexpensive, so I can use lots! In a previous garden, I lined a path with Alchemilla and tucked loads of ‘Purple Sensation’ in between crowns. The frothy chartreuse and deep purple globes were a match made in heaven. Now I have to repeat the combo in my new garden!

  30. I love alliums. Mine are about to bloom. I am definitely going to need more.

  31. Alliums are pretty much my favorite bulbs…especially for those long-lasting seedheads…it’s rare to have a bulb provide 9+ months of interest. My fave for pure form is A. cristophii, but ‘Gladiator’ is the best for it’s seedheads…with A. nigrum a close second.

  32. Beautiful! I wonder how they would grow in my yard, which is part-sun at best.

  33. I love Alliums! I keep finding more to add each year. This year will be the first for my Purple Sensation alliums (planted last fall) which I am so looking forward to!

  34. My absolute favorite aliums are the twinkling star and the Persian blue, I have 5 varieties spread out through my garden beds, love that they keep critters away from my flowers as I live in a rural area and they are just absolutely beautiful no matter what u pair them with

  35. I’ve never grown an allium! I would love to try! I try to plant everything, avocado seeds, pineapple tops and so far I’ve had success! My children make fun of me! Oh well, I love flowers and plants!

  36. I do not have any alliums in my garden but I would love to say I did!

  37. I can’t wait for them to bloom every year. Piet Oudolf is a fantastic designer and we are lucky enough to live close enough to one of his UK gardens, and can visit through the changing seasons. It is inspirationall

  38. What a heavenly array of alliums! I just loved these pictures. Now you have me wishing for mine to pop up…way to go yet, but time to buy more!xxx

  39. Oh please, oh please, let it be me
    That wins the alliums that I seek
    For with their wild colors and shapes
    I’ll have a Seuss-like landscape escapade !

  40. I am just dying to plant some lovely alliums in my new garden bed I sweated to carve out of ancient sod early this spring. I hope I am the lucky winner!

  41. I love ‘Summer Beauty’ but since you already shared that one I’ll go with ‘Ivory Queen’! It’s so unusual for an allium, very silvery and wide-leaved.

  42. Pingback: A Beginner's Guide To Alliums | Angie The Freckled Rose

  43. Hello Alain, my favourite Allium is “Christophii” for it’s steely lilac star-shaped flowers. I’m planning to plant many this Autumn for a great display next year (as we used to have in the previous garden). I have heard they gradually fade after a few years, but they produce so much seed that I wonder if they can sustain themselves from self-seeding?

    • My Globemaster and Purple Sensation are spreading, so I haven’t experienced them fading away. Sometimes I cut down the seed heats to prevent self-sowing.

  44. Alliums are beautiful but I always end up weeding them out. :/ They look amazing en masse at Lurie, especially with the salvias.

  45. My favourite Allium is A. sphaerocephalon, the drumstick Allium. I grew these as a kid back in Ireland, where they would flower right at the top of summer (Later than most Alliums). What I loved about them most was that each drumstick would always be heaving over with the weight of a fat bumble bee, who would be so engrossed in their nectar that you could stroke his fuzzy back, and he wouldn’t even notice! You can’t stroke bumble bees when they’re buried in a snapdragon of foxglove, and it mustn’t be on a flower about which they are ambivalent; they do sting!

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