Have you ever walked or driven past a garden, spotted a magnificent plant or flower and wondered, “What ARE those???” I’ve been asked this question many times over the past few weeks while working in my front yard and have also gotten quite a few inquiries from readers regarding the “big purple balls” on tall green stalks they’ve spotted in their own communities.
The answer to the question is Allium. Big, beautiful, and unique, the large spherical blooms of the Gladiator Allium are a true show-stopper. I planted five of the baseball-sized bulbs in my front garden around our lamppost in the fall last year and was absolutely delighted when all five bloomed atop flower stalks which rose to the height of my waist in the middle of May. The flowers have now been in bloom for almost four weeks! The coolest thing has been seeing neighbors walk by and stop to look at and sometimes gently touch the over-sized flowers. I’ve even had someone pull over on two different occasions when I’ve been out in the front yard simply to ask what they were. Yesterday during dinner, I saw a new resident of our neighborhood walk over and snap a photo of them with his iPhone. I take that as one of the greatest compliments 😉
As much as I’d like to take credit for these amazing beauties which are gracing my front yard, the only thing I’ve really done is planted them. Lucky for me, the soil in my yard is in fairly good condition and therefore, when planting, all I did was add a bit of peat moss. I simply watered them once they were planted and pretty much forgot them during the winter and early spring months. These bulbs (like most of the ones planted in the fall) pretty much grow themselves. What’s more, is since they are perennial in most zones, I’m hoping to enjoy them for years to come without having to dig them up or plant new. Since Allium are a fall-planted bulb, they are harvested in late summer and only available during the fall season to plant. They require a chilling period of 8-12 weeks with temperatures consistently below 55 degrees in order to grow and bloom properly in the late spring and early summer.
While leaving our house for a walk the other night with my two adorable daughters, I said for the ump-teenth time to my husband, “Don’t you just LOVE these???” as I lightly touched the florets. He replied, “Yeah, they’re pretty amazing. Just be prepared that some day in the near future one of the girls is going to pick one and bring it to you.” I promised him that if that ever happens, I won’t get mad but simply smile at the fact that they love them as much as I do 😉
With hands in the dirt and head in the clouds,
P.S. Like these purple Alliums? Did you know there is another giant Allium that blooms white!