Spring Onions and Geraniums Gone Wild

These days if you walk by our house the first thing to strike your eye will be the ‘Globemaster’ Alliums blooming in the Parkway Bed.

Allium sidewalk
‘Globemaster’ Alliums on the Parkway Bed

All these blooms are descended from 3 ‘Globemaster’ bulbs I planted years ago. As they multiplied, the flower clusters got smaller. ‘Globemaster’ is supposed to have clusters up to 10″ around, and at first ours may have approached that size. But these don’t look more than 6″.

Allium sidewalk 2

They’re still beautiful, though, and the tall stems add a certain drama. I should probably divide these Allium bulbs, but dividing is one of my least favorite garden chores. Some people get writer’s block, I get plant division block.

Geranium sidewalk border
Wild Geranium blooming on the Sidewalk Border

The second thing you’d notice is the starry multitude of Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) blooms along both the Sidewalk Border and the Parkway Bed. This is a native hardy Geranium that blooms earlier than most hybrids and exotic species of the genus.

Geranium lav
Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium spreads by rhizome and seed. Once you have it, it will be with you always. In my opinion, this is a good thing.

Geranium white
White Wild Geranium

Mostly the flowers are lavender, but there is also a white-flowered variety.

Amsonia tab

At the far end of the Sidewalk Border is a large Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana). What you see above is all one plant. Once Bluestar makes itself comfortable, it cannot be moved, except maybe with dynamite. This Bluestar does not have the narrow leaves and brilliant golden fall color of Arkansas Bluestar (A. hubrichtii). However, most years the leaves do turn a very nice yellow.

Amsonia tab close

The Bluestar is one of several plants that are shorter this year. I’d guess that they got a late start breaking dormancy due to the cold spring. Then they hurried to bloom at the normal time, so they put on less height. It’s a theory, anyways.

golden alexander
Golden Alexander

In this part of the garden now there are a few patches of blooming Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea). The yellow flowers umbels are like a hint of summer to come.

Alliums in crabapple bed
‘Purple Sensation’ Allium and Starry Solomon’s Plume


In the Left Bank Bed, north of the Crabapple tree, there’s another patch of Alliums blooming. These are ‘Purple Sensation’, which is shorter than ‘Globemaster’. They are underplanted with Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum). When the Alliums die back, the Starry Solomon’s Plume stays green, with the added bonus of unusual striped berries later on.

Allium close

What are the standout plants in your garden right now?

49 Comments on “Spring Onions and Geraniums Gone Wild

  1. It’s so interesting to see your Amsonia. I found two species in Texas this year that I still haven’t posted photos of. One had very nearrow leaves, while the other had broad leaves, and a shorter, sturdier apperaance. Both were attracting butterflies galore.

    I made a quick trip to Kansas City to visit relatives over Memorial Day. Now, I’m on my way home, and regretting that I don’t have more time. However: I did get to see peonies, pussy willows, and a few lovelies I haven’t yet identified yet while I was in KCMO. Spring may be fleeing, but I caught up with it for at least a moment.

  2. These alliums are lovely! Geraniums are always gorgeous. The red ones are the most popular here. I’m a fan of petunias though. So colorful, and tons of blooms!

  3. Globemaster would have been one of my two last choices for alliums in the catalogues. They looked so big and silly to me. (I will not be getting any anytime soon anyway.) Yours are really sharp thought. They do not look so silly at all, and in fact, they look more like what I would expect ‘normal’ alliums to look like. The more I see of ‘Mount Everest’, the more I am not so impressed. Do you have those too?

    • I didn’t think they looked silly when they were really big, but I don’t think its tragic that they have shrunk in size.

  4. The alliums are really lovely – I am tempted each year to buy some, but they are so expensive. However, if they spread like yours perhaps it would be worth the investment!

  5. My columbine are gorgeous. Not that I can enjoy them since it is so miserably hot and humid here. I have never grown alliums, but my son just bought some for his house. The peonies are just starting to open and I can’t wait.

  6. I love your late May front beds. Here, in Kentucky, the alliums and wild geraniums have had their moment in the spotlight.

  7. I know just what you mean about division block. I have two clumps of irises that desperately need to be divided. For years, I’ve been telling myself I must do it, and yet I haven’t. Those alliums are still beautiful, regardless of their size.

      • I don’t know. Partially, for me, it feels as though I am attacking the plant that just wants to be left alone. Not a good feeling.

  8. A beautiful explosion of color after your long winter and cold spring. I love how alliums keep coming back year after year unlike some other spring bulbs that eventually peter out. Your combinations are fabulous, especially the Allium/Starry Solomon’s Plume.

  9. Loving the alliums – they are in the fall planting plan for this fall. I love the idea of underplanting them.

  10. Lovely! I too love the wild/native geraniums and love seeing them in the woods around the house and agree, you can’t ever have too many! My Irises are going wild now as are the Baptisia and Lupine. This spring has been so wild- we’ve already hit 96F here in northern WI!!!

  11. You tempt me with those alliums! My current star of the show is false blue indigo. For some reason, the blossoms are opening in stages, so it is blooming quite a long time this spring.

  12. So excellent to have a pricey bulb like ‘Globemaster’ multiply! I’m like you in procrastinating when it comes to division. In your parkway bed, a festival for pollinators, you could quite plausibly use the rationale that you want to minimize soil disturbance. The alliums are clearly happy, so there’s no real need to dig and divide unless/until bloom diminishes.

    • That’s it!! Minimizing soil disturbance is extremely important to me, it’s at the core of my whole gardening philosophy. So I really can’t divide the Allium bulbs.

  13. Last year I also planted Allium Globemaster. It stande in a shady part of the garden and still blossoms. My standout plants are my yellow peony “Bartzella” in the front garden. In the backyard rose “Fritz Nobis” is blooming. And also many other roses start to bloom now.

    • None of my roses have begun to bloom yet, though they mostly have buds. I had to cut ‘Sally Holmes’ to the ground this spring.

  14. Both of those alliums are striking and lovely, they certainly stand out. Mine get less each year sadly, I have no idea why. Lovely to see so much in bloom.xxx

    • It seems the most frequent problems with bulbs come from too much moisture or not enough cold. Not sure if either of those would apply to you.

  15. Your alliums are looking good. I have noticed that my allium blooms have become smaller over the year yet more plentiful. I like the trade for more flowers.

  16. You have gorgeous plant combinations! I have some alliums, but they are sort of scattered throughout the garden. I love the mass of them that you have, as they really make an impact. I planted lavender geranium maculatum last year, and they do look so pretty in bloom. I’m counting on the fact that they will spread!

  17. The luxury of Alliums that multiply, wow! I can only dream. The combinations you’ve chosen for the Alliums is spot on, and great that they lengthen the season of interest. This year I’d say my stand out plant of the moment is also an Allium – christophii (not always a reliable appearance as it depends a lot on how much winter or spring rain we get. this year a lot so lots of Alliums

  18. Hello Jason, that’s a lovely cool colour palette. I think the globe master alliums look lovely, they add quite a bit of drama and I know the bees love them. The stand-out plants in our garden right now are probably the roses, that are coming into flower, we’re still a little ahead of you so we’re on our main summer flowering display. The roses have taken a good few years to establish but now they’re really coming into their own.

  19. You can never have too many hardy geraniums in my opinion! Those alliums look fantastic – another treat for your neighbours.

    • The Alliums get a lot of compliments from passersby. I agree about hardy Geraniums, but Wild Geranium may put that idea to the test with the way they spread!

  20. We seem to have many of the same flowers blooming….I love the wild white geraniums as I have not seen these before. I also hate dividing and will undertake some allium and iris dividing this year.

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